Life has been crazy busy for me lately. I had midterms, then I was in the process of changing jobs, and then my husband came home from the field and brought a nice upper respiratory infection with him. So I asked my good friend (and favorite yoga teacher) Emmalyn to share with you all a bit about meditation. Building my meditation practice is something I’ve been working on and I can’t wait to employ these awesome tips!
We’ve all heard how great meditation is for us. Maybe you’ve seen the articles that show up in mainstream news almost every day or maybe you watched Anderson Cooper’s piece on 60 minutes a few months ago. We know that we should start meditating BUT knowing is the easy part. The hard part is actually sitting down to meditate on a regular basis and creating a lasting practice. That’s what I’m here to help you with! If you still need convincing check out these benefits on meditation.
When I work with women to build a meditation practice as a part of their yoga and wellness journey we start by exploring what meditation means to them. Most of them have in mind a person sitting completely still doing nothing. While this is what it looks like from the outside there is a whole lot more that goes into the practice. First we need to set ourselves up for success by picking a time of day and a length of time that we can actually commit to. We need to have a designated space that makes the practice feel special. We need a reward for after we finish our practice. And we need the practice itself. Use these five simple steps to start your own, lasting meditation practice!
- Set aside a time of day to dedicate to your practice. Practicing at the same time every day will help the habit grow deep roots into your daily life. I do my practice in the morning before the sun comes up but you can pick any time of day that works well for you. Maybe play around with how it feels meditating after a long day of work or right before bed. We all have an optimal time and just need to do some exploration.
- Pick a length of time that works for you. Just because someone you know says they meditate for 20 minutes every day doesn’t mean this is the right length of time for you. Pick a number of minutes that feels totally doable to you and stick with that for a week. After that week decide if you feel ready to increase the amount but don’t increase too fast. Sometimes we have to hold ourselves back in the short term for growth in the long term. Make sure this is a time that you can commit to for the next 21 days. If that feels intimidating decrease the amount. When I first started my practice I chose 10 minutes every day for 90 days and it stuck. Now I use the 10 minutes as my base number and increase if I have the extra time or need the extra time.
- Create a mediation space in your house. Maybe it’s a corner in your bedroom or the big comfy reading chair by a sunny window. Wherever it is make sure you can be comfortable and have quiet time alone. This was the part of the practice that took me the longest to figure out. I’ve explored with meditating on the sofa, in bed, in my reading chair, on my yoga mat, and I’ve finally figured out that having my meditation cushion right next to my bed is best.
- Reward is a big part of creating a lasting habit. When I first started learning about the reward side of building lasting habits this was the part I had the most trouble wrapping my head around. The reward is a benefit you get from your habit. You might tell yourself the benefits you get from simply meditating are enough but will this actually bring you back to your meditation space each and every day? I doesn’t for me so I give myself a reward for sticking with my practice. I’ve used a lot of different rewards depending on what I’m in to at the moment. My two favorite meditation rewards are giving myself a gold start (check mark) in the goal tracking app I have and using a beautiful meditation oil my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas. Make sure the reward you pick has enough pull to get you back into the habit when you need it.
- Focus on your breath. Now that we’ve built up all the support that goes into creating a meditation practice now we will get into what you actually do while you are sitting or laying down. It’s really as simple as focusing on your breath. There are many different ways of doing this and my favorites are to place my hands on my belly and feel the movement that comes from each breath. I also like to use the mantra So Hum; saying in my mind “so” as I inhale and “hum” as I exhale. Keeping your awareness on your mind will slow down your thoughts and bring you into a restful space.
I hope these 5 simple steps help you start or build on your meditation practice. Remember, don’t put to much pressure on yourself to get it all right. It’s taken me years to even begin to feel comfortable with my practice and my mind still drifts to my to do list or thinking about what happened yesterday. When that happens the moment we realize we are no longer in the present meditation begins.
If you would like help putting together more concrete plan for your meditation practice visit my website and schedule a FREE 20 minute Health Exploration Session. Happy meditating!!!!
Emmalyn Gaertner wants to live in a world where health is about balance, we find happiness in the little things, and our food is cooked with love. As a yoga teacher and wellness expert, Emmalyn guides women through flowing transformation both on and off the mat. When Emmalyn isn’t practicing yoga or at her computer she enjoys hiking with her dog Ollie, cooking with her husband, and always loves a hug! For recipes, tips & tricks, and healthy inspiration please visit her website and her Facebook page!
In vibrant life,