We have all heard about the benefits of adding meditation to your daily routine, but it’s very hard to do. Here are some foolproof meditation techniques!
Hello, friends! In recent years, wellness routines such as yoga and meditation have become extremely popular. Articles, and even whole magazines, are dedicated to showing the benefits of adding these routines to your life. Though, even as an avid yoga lover myself, I struggle with meditation. The whole “be still, sit still, and think of nothing” thing does not work with my overactive mind. I have tried and tried, and meditation has never stuck as something I routinely do, no matter how much I would like to incorporate it into my day. I’m sure many of you are the same. You know the benefits of meditation, and want to reap those benefits, but actually meditating is like sawing your hand off with a butter knife: very difficult, and in the end, it doesn’t work. However, I came across some wonderful tips and tricks to make meditation for restless minds easy, painless, and a part of your daily routine. If you want to add meditation to your life, and you’re like me, follow along with me as we go over how to effectively make meditation a habit.
1. Add Meditation to Another Daily Routine
I would tell you to choose a specific time of day, but in all reality, it’s much easier to make something a routine by adding it in after another task you do daily. As for me, I choose to add in my meditation with my morning coffee. This way, I’m meditating around the same time every day. Adding it in along with something else you do every day, such as after your shower, before or after meals, or after you brush your teeth, will help make meditation part of your daily ritual. For instance, since I started meditating while drinking my morning coffee, creating that stillness of mind has become part of my coffee ritual, so to speak. Coffee doesn’t feel complete without that few minutes of inner reflection. And that’s the point. The task you do before meditating won’t feel complete each day without your small bit of meditation, and eventually, it will completely become part of your routine.
There are those that will tell you morning meditation is best to start the day off on a high note, and those that will tell you to end the day with meditation to relax you before bed. Both are true, and I chose to tag my daily meditation with my morning coffee to start my day off how I want. Do the same for your meditation practices, and choose when to meditate based on your schedule.
2. Choose a Particular Space
I’m sure when you think of a meditation space, you think of a bare room, maybe with some soft, chiming meditation music in the background, and some incense burning. This is not necessary to meditate. Sure, incense is nice, and soft music can help, but it is not a requirement for your space. I typically sit at my dining room table, or on the floor next to it. Do I have a bare room? Hardly, and I usually have two dogs trying to kiss my face. Sometimes I’ll burn some incense, but that’s really only because I like setting things on fire. I really don’t enjoy the meditation songs you can find, either, though I do have a pretty awesome CD of Tibetan Monks singing. My point is: that’s not what makes a home meditation space. All you need is a place to sit that you can use every day. That’s it. It can be on your patio, in your living room, on your bed, or even on your bathroom floor. Whatever works for you.
3. Sit Comfortably
Via Fashion Flakes
Another thing about meditating that never stuck with me was the fact that everyone is always trying to tell you that you have to sit up super straight in the lotus position. I have not mastered sitting like that and frankly, I find it uncomfortable. Also, I have learned there are other ways to meditate than that one seated position. So, I advise you instead, to sit comfortably. The position that is most comfortable for you to sit in, whether that’s cross-legged, legs straight out, one leg bent and one straight, or on a cushion; you do that. If you find lotus comfortable, do that! Personally, I like to sit cross legged, or with my legs folded yet not crossed like the photo above (called Burmese Posture, as I just found while trying to find a photo to explain how I sit), as I sip my coffee. This way, my legs don’t fall asleep, and I’m not coming out of my inner reflection because I’m uncomfortable. I’ve even meditated while lying on the floor, but I don’t recommend that if you have to go to work or class soon, because you might fall asleep (found out through experience). It’s great for at night, though!
Now that you have a place and time of day you are going to meditate, and have a comfortable position to sit in, let’s go over some meditation techniques that I found helped quiet my overactive mind.
4. Acknowledge and Let Go
Quieting my mind was the part I always found hard. I don’t know about you, but I would get frustrated. When the yoga instructor or meditation videos or podcasts I was listening to would tell me to clear my mind, and “think of nothing”, it would take less than 10 seconds of stillness for my mind to be filled with plans for the week, tasks I needed to do, and what I was going to eat next (because I’m always thinking of food). I couldn’t turn it off. I would try to “think of nothing,” and I ended up thinking of even more things, so my meditation would completely die.
Do you have the same problem? Well, I have a sneaky trick that I learned that will help you clear your mind. This is going to sound super crazy, but I’m telling you, it really works. When you’re sitting comfortably in your meditation position, and a thought pops in your head, let it. Let’s say the thought is what you’re going to have for lunch. Think to yourself “hmm, that’s a good question” and let it go. It sounds too easy, right? But, because you acknowledged the thought, your mind finds it easier to move on. After a few minutes (sometimes it takes me longer) you’ll no longer have those nagging questions popping into your head, and you can fully embrace the stillness of your mind.
5. Be a Mountain
If you've noticed, I only use the phrase “think of nothing” in quotes. Why do I choose to say quiet or still the mind instead? Because, honestly, "thinking of nothing" is not something most people can do, and that’s not the point of meditation. I found a great explanation countering the whole “think of nothing” mentality. While meditating, you’re not really “thinking of nothing”, even though that’s how people describe it. You are like a mountain, and your thoughts are like clouds. The mountain does not move because of the clouds, nor does it entertain them. It sits, stoic, unmoving, and allows the clouds to roll by. The thoughts are still there. You just look at them, acknowledge they are there, and let them pass. This was probably one of the best meditation tips I have found, because it helps me realize that you don’t have to "think of nothing," just let the thoughts roll by. Kinda neat, huh?
6. Know That It Takes Times
You’re most likely not going to fully clear your mind the first time you meditate, or even the second. You’re going to have to take it slow. You’re not going to meditate perfectly for an hour either so don’t worry if you can barely make 5 minutes. Start slow. The first week, try to sit there and let go of those nagging questions as they come to you. Take 5-10 minutes. Were you able to let them all go? That’s fantastic! Do it again the next day. Maybe you weren’t able to let them all go by the time your 5 minute timer went off. But, were you able to let one thought go? That’s progress! Tomorrow, shoot for letting go of two. Each week, try to increase your time. I typically try to go about 10-15 minutes on weekdays, and longer on the weekends. This is totally okay! You don’t have to always meditate for 45 perfect minutes. Every little bit helps, even if you were only able to clear your mind for 5 minutes one day.
7. Try Meditation Apps
The last thing I want to talk about are some apps I found that might help you make meditation a habit, and to track how many minutes and days you have meditated in a row. Headspace, MINDBODY Connect, Sattva, Calm, and Smiling Mind are all free meditation apps, and highly recommended. I’ve also tried Take a Break, but it wasn’t my favorite style-wise. The Mindfulness App and PAUSE are supposed to be awesome, but they’re not free. Buddhify is rated as one of the best meditation guide apps, but again, it’s not free. So, unless you really think it would help you, then I wouldn’t start with a paid app. However, Buddhify is gorgeous, well set up, and worth every penny. But, that’s how I got into running (I use the term “running” very loosely). I bought that Zombies, Run! app like 4 years ago and because I paid for it, I felt more obligated to use it. So, do what works for you.
There you have it, folks! Some surefire ways to actually make meditation a part of your routine. Have any of you tried these meditation techniques before? How do you meditate? Do you have your own tried and true ways to quiet your mind? Let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget to share this post with your family and friends, and happy meditating, everyone!
**Featured image via MyWellBits