Daily Meditation Will Profoundly Impact You
It’s likely that you already know the long list of the impressive benefits from meditating. But what you may not know is how to develop a regular meditation practice. You’ve got a busy life and a busy mind. I get it. But meditation is extremely simple and very doable no matter what’s happening in your life. It’s time to start a daily practice now. No more excuses.
Don’t Complicate Meditation
The principle of meditating is simple. It’s consciously keeping your mind focused on something specific. For instance, in a breathing meditation, whenever your mind wanders away from focusing on your breath, you shift your attention back to your breath. Focus on your breath, mind wanders, bring your thoughts back to your breath. Focus on your breath, mind wanders, bring your thoughts back to . . . Simple, right. What you’re doing is training your mind to focus better. (Psst, you’re learning how to control your mind, rather than your mind controlling you.) In a nutshell, here’s the process to easily get you started.
Here’s the Game Plan to Meditate Daily
You want to get comfortable and be undisturbed when you meditate. Try different positions and locations. Find a quiet spot on a park bench, a cushion or pillow on the floor, a couch in a dimly-lit room. This is the time to explore what works best for you.
Use a timer so you don’t have to keep an eye on the clock or worry about falling asleep. A popular one that’s free is “Insight Timer” which is available for iPhone and Android. “Meditate for iPhone” costs around $3 and will give you stats on your meditation practice.
Commit to meditate five minutes a day. It’s very important that you start so small that you won’t fail. I can’t emphasis this enough. To form a long-lasting habit, you need to be consistent, so start with something that’s very easy and doable. On one day if you feel like meditating for 10 minutes, go for it but you’re committed to only five minutes each day. Once you’ve meditated five minutes daily for seven days straight, then commit to meditating seven minutes a day. If you can stick to that for 21 days straight, then add 1-3 minutes to your practice until you build up to 30 minutes a day.
There’s many different types of meditations, but here’s an easy one. Sitting with your eyes and mouth closed, focus on your breath. Follow your breath as it enters your nose, your throat, then inflates your lungs and belly. Continue to effortlessly follow your breath as it moves out of your deflating lungs, into your throat and out your nose. If it’s helpful, you can inhale for the count of five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds and exhale for five seconds. Observe your breath without overanalyzing or thinking too much about it.
It’s not a matter of if your mind will wander but when. When your mind wanders, gently bring the focus back to your breath. If your thoughts wander into how bored you are, bring your attention back to your breathing. If your to-do list pops into your mind, patiently bring your focus back to your breath. You’re training your mind to focus, concentrate and let go, not wander off into thoughts. Like learning any new skill, you won’t be very good at it initially but you’ll get better at it the more you practice. Be kind and extra patient with yourself as you gradually get the hang of this.
After your timer sounds, finish your meditation by “grounding,” i.e. imagine your feet growing roots to the center of the earth.
It’s Essential to Quiet Your Mind Every Day
Meditating for five minutes each day is better than 60 minutes once a weekend. The goal is to develop a daily habit (or at least six days a week). If you can’t meditate one day for the committed time, then get quiet for just a few minutes. And if you can’t find a few minutes to get quiet during the day, you need meditation more than ever! As a friend once said to me, “If you can’t find 10 minutes to meditate, you need to sit and think about that for an hour.”