Tips for Beginning a Meditation Practice

by Carol Hendershot

Developing a meditation practice can have a powerful impact on our lives, relationships, and well-being. And, it can be challenging and difficult!

I know it was for me; I can’t tell you how many times I promised myself that I would be consistent only to lose it a day or two down the road.

The process is like planting a garden. We plant seeds or small plants, and make sure they get plenty of water, sun, and nutrients. Then, we begin to wait, and wait, and wait. We do our best to trust that the plants will eventually grow. When the young shoots finally start to appear, we have to protect them from bugs, rabbits, and deer. If we become impatient and start to dig around, forget to provide the proper nutrients, or don’t give the plants protection, our garden will not flourish.

By practicing mindfulness meditation, we are planting seeds for peace and calm in our lives. If we consistently build mindfulness into our days, even when nothing seems to be happening, we will see the benefits.

When we see our pesky old patterns, resistances, and distractions threaten our progress, it is vital that we continue to feed it.

Here are some questions I often hear:

 When should I meditate?

The best time to meditate is the time that works best for you! Think through a typical day and pinpoint a time that you can set aside 5-10 minutes every day. If you can do it at the same time and in the same place, that is even better. Many people find that it is easiest to be consistent first thing in the morning, but that might not be right for you.

How long should I meditate?

It’s best to start small; 3-5 minutes is an excellent place to start. Slowly increase the time as you feel more comfortable in the practice.

How often should I meditate?

Consistency is the key. It’s much better to meditate for even one minute every day than sixty minutes once a week or once a month.

Where should I meditate?

At first, it doesn’t really matter; but it’s nice to find a pleasant place where you will want to return.

You can sit on the floor (using a pillow or cushion for support) or sit upright in a chair with your feet resting flat on the floor. You can also meditate lying down (if you can do it without falling asleep!) If you can, find a posture that embodies dignity and wakefulness.

Is there a way to make it easier?

It is hard to change old patterns! We are creatures of habit, and we do things the way we have always done them. Here are a couple of tips! Try to do it at the same time every day and even in the same place. If you can tie it to something you already do, it will be easier to make it an automatic part of your day. Learn to savor the good that comes from your practice.

The Good News: Once it is a habit, it will be as easy as brushing your teeth. Changing habits over time creates new neural networks in your brain. Then, it is almost as if it is hardwired into us.

I’m already overwhelmed, how can I make this fit?

Here are some ways to integrate mindfulness practice into your busy life:

  • Take three deep breaths and pay attention to how it feels
  •  Feel your feet on the ground
  • Take a few steps and notice the sensations in your feet and legs
  • Stop and take a few seconds to listen to sounds in the room

Check out “How to Meditate” from Mindful Magazine

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