Five tools for easier meditation ...
When I first started meditating, I found it really difficult, and I used to get frustrated and angry with myself because I thought I wasn't doing it "right" (more about that here). After practicing meditation regularly for a couple of years, I've developed a few tools to make it easier and more enjoyable.
1. Find a comfortable way to sit. If you're not comfortable, the discomfort will be the only thing you think about and it will make you annoyed at meditating, annoyed at yourself, and resistant to doing it. A few options that work for me:
- Kneeling with yoga blocks or a bolster under my bum.
- Sitting on a chair with feet on the floor.
- Lying on the floor.
- Sitting in bed with pillows behind me.
2. Pick a time every day that works for you. For me that's either first thing in the morning or directly after my yoga practice. Before bed can be a nice time (just make sure you don't fall asleep), or when you get home from work, creating space for the transition from work to home. Lunchtime works for some people, and depending on your morning or evening commute, those can also be good times to try. Whatever time it is, make sure it's one that you feel comfortable with and are able to commit to (most of the time).
3. Use a timer to start. When I began meditating, I used to worry that I would get caught up and be late for work or appointments. I became a little obsessed with looking at the clock during my meditation and I found it very distracting. When I started using a time, I could let go and concentrate more on breath or whatever my focus was that day. Now my body kind of knows when it's time to stop so I don't use a timer any more, but I found it very helpful at the beginning. (Side note - make sure the timer ending noise is gentle, or you'll be rudely jolted out of your stillness).
4. Stop feeling like your mind should be blank. This is basically impossible and will leave you feeling frustrated or annoyed. I meditate not to clear my mind, but to observe what is going on and to create space between thoughts, feelings and actions. At the beginning, it can be nice to focus on a particular "thing", and when your mind wanders, bring it back to that item to create focus. I often use my breathing or the repetition of a mantra, but it can be similarly useful to focus on an object (I like rocks and crystals - they're solid to hold and make me feel connected with nature). The object itself is not important- it can be a candle, a flower, or something special - what's important is that it helps keep focus and you can keep coming back to it when you start to drift off.
5. Start small. At first, sitting in stillness with only your own thoughts and feelings can be very difficult. Begin with 5 minutes a day, and slowly build from there. Small but regular practice will have a stronger impact than long sessions infrequently.
Did you find these tools helpful? Let me know in the comments or use #meditateoctober
It's not too late to join me for 10 days of meditation over on Instagram #meditation101010