Sunday, March 9, 2014

Still Not Meditating Daily? Here’s Why And How To Start

It took me a long time to develop a meditation practice that I would – and could – do consistently. I have a fast, active mind and have always liked to be ‘on the go’ so sitting down and getting quiet was quite the challenge.
Ironically, we often resist what benefits us the most! After years of on-again, off-again practice, meditation has now become a non-negotiable practice in my day, as routine as brushing my teeth.
Here are the top five reasons why I wouldn’t even consider missing my daily meditations (and why I recommend you develop a daily practice of your own that works for you!):
1. It sets the tone for your entire day. It’s super simple: the days I start with meditation consistently unfold totally differently than the days I don’t. The practice centers and calms me, and since my energy affects everything and everyone around me, the calmer and more centered I am, the smoother the day flows – and, of course, vice versa.
2. It helps you make better decisions. Meditation quiets my incessantly chattering mind. That chatter obscures the deeper awareness of what feels right good and in alignment for me. Given that we all make large and small decisions all day long, having a higher level of discernment makes a direct and tangible difference in my quality of life.
3. It reduces your stress levels. The peace and calm I feel in meditation allows my body to rest and relax deeply on a daily basis, unraveling some of the built-up tension that accumulates as part of modern living. Science has shown that meditation has similar benefits to getting a good night’s sleep. It’s in these states that the natural self-healing ability of the body can then kick in –  something that’s hard for it to do when in go-go-go mode all the time.
4. It makes you happier. Science has proven that meditation produces higher levels of ‘good feeling’ chemicals like serotonin and endorphins. I definitely notice my mood is enhanced by my mediation practice (an effect that’s magnified by combining meditation with the practice of gratitude!).
5. It builds your self-esteem. Every time I do something that I know is good for me, I feel better about myself. Since I know the amazing power and benefit of meditation to my health, happiness, and quality of life, I get a big boost of self-esteem every time I do it.
Ok, great, so you KNOW it would benefit you, but you’ve had a hard time sticking with it. What do you do?
It took me a long time to develop a regular practice so I really understand! Here are five simple ways to short-cut things for you, and help you make it a daily habit that sticks:
1. Meditate first, before anything else in your day. Get up, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, drink a nice glass of water to hydrate yourself, then sit yourself down. Do nothing else (especially not looking at email)! Just sit down. If you let the activity of the day get in the way, you will drastically reduce the likelihood that you’ll do it.
2. Start with just five minutes. Anyone can do five minutes! Keep it simple and simply observe your breath and your thoughts without ‘doing’ anything with them. Five minutes may eventually become longer, but just start with five and feel great about that accomplishment. It will build your confidence, and increase the good vibes for continuing.
3. Choose one spot to meditate. It helps to have a peaceful place that feels good to you. I sit in a particular spot on my couch. It’s comfortable, and it’s like there’s a ‘memory’ there that’s been built over time that makes it welcoming for me to sit there and meditate. Some people advocate sitting up in bed (lying down is not recommended, too easy to fall asleep). Find that spot for you, and it will help you get into your meditation more quickly and deeply each time you go there.
4. Know that it’s ok for your mind to be busy. You are not going to stop the mind so don’t even try! Be ok with recognizing just how busy and loud the mind actually is. What you’re developing is your higher mind, that ability to stand back from the mind and observe it neutrally. With time, this practice will lead to your ability to stand back from whatever happens in your day and observe it so you can respond rather than react.
5. Commit to a 21-day experiment. Science shows that a new habit is built in 21 days. Don’t think about meditating daily for the rest of your life, just focus on building a simply practice for the next 21 days and notice the difference it makes.
You may have already come across a meditation technique or a guided meditation that you like but that you haven’t been using consistently. If so, you may want to use that in your 21-day experiment (even if it’s longer than 5 minutes).
One resource I find really useful is the Omvana app which has a huge variety of guided meditations on different subjects from different teachers (including some by me!). Simply pick the one(s) you like best.
I’d love to hear about your experience. What’s worked for you? Where have you gotten stuck? Did you take on the 21 day experiment, and if so, how did it go?
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