Like most things in life, you’re only going to get the benefits if you practice regularly. Because, like exercise, the benefits from a meditation practice are cumulative. However, unlike many people, I don’t believe that a rigid mindset is beneficial when practicing meditation.
Therefore, if you want to maintain a daily practice, you need to find ways to make practicing desirable, achieve your meditation goals, that deliver benefits, and that also ensure you don’t get stressed out in the process.
It’s important to know that if you are a beginner meditator, or even experienced, you are going to come across various mental, emotional, and physical resistance…. And that’s just from you! And if you add to that issues that may arise in your external environment, there are going to be days, weeks, or even longer, when you just don’t want to, or find it difficult to meditate…
A successful practice, that can develop so many benefits, hinges on you overcoming the obstacles and reasons why you are not wanting to meditate ‘at this time,’ and the next time, and the next.
So let’s share some ways I, and many other successful meditators, have been able to maintain our practices for many years, (25+ years for me.)
How Can I Maintain A Daily Meditation Practice?
Make Meditating A Priority:
I assume, like so many others, that you want to meditate for the many mental, emotional, and physical benefits that practicing brings. Benefits like relief from stress, deeper relaxation, reduced blood pressure, a greater sense of peace and calm, improved focus, better self-control, improved memory, academic performance, etc.
Therefore, why not make it a priority? I imagine there are things you routinely do every day that don’t benefit you nearly as much as meditating will. So why not swap out some of your time-wasting and un-beneficial habits for something that is going to benefit every aspect of your life?
– Do you spend time gossiping about others and complaining about your life?
– How many hours do you spend scrolling through social media?
– Do you ring people just to fill in the time?
– How much time do you spend worrying about the past, the present, the future, and other things that you have no control over?
This stuff, and a lot of other stuff we do each day, tends to bring us down and lower our vibration. Meditating is a much more beneficial way to spend this time. It will pick you up, raise your vibration, and leave you feeling better for the rest of the day….
…. and it will help to break your unnecessary and unproductive time-wasting habits!
Go Into Your Practice Mentally And Physically Prepared:
Meditating is much easier if you are not tired, stressed, or feeling overwhelmed. I know it’s at these times that we need the benefits of meditation the most, however, it’s much harder to get into a beneficial meditative state when we are mentally, emotionally, and physically overstretched.
To get the most out of your sessions, pick a time when you are already at ease and have not been bombarded by the many issues that each day brings. And for this reason, many people find that first thing in the morning is often the best and easiest time to have a beneficial practice.
However, any time that you can overcome the issues of your day to focus on your meditation goals is going to be of benefit to your future well-being.
Prepare Your Space Properly Before Starting:
If you have a regular space set up you will be familiar with how it feels, your desired posture, the sounds you may hear, and even the smells. If your space is basically the same every time you meditate, you won’t need to change stuff once you have settled. And this allows you to just focus on your practice.
With this in mind, it’s also good to have a trigger or an associated event that once completed signals to your body and mind that it’s now time to meditate. Your trigger could be after brushing your teeth, once you have sent the kids to school, or after feeding the cat…
Familiarity and routine work for many people, especially at the early stages of setting up a practice.
Start With Shorter Sessions:
I’ve read articles where teachers or practitioners suggest that even 30 seconds is enough when you begin…. or just do 3 sessions a week at 5 minutes each…. Ummm….
My thoughts are: go back to the reason why you wanted to begin a meditation practice in the first place…. the reasons are often related to achieving a better state of mind. And your current state of mind, the busy one, the agitated one, the frustrated, angry, and stressed one took how long to develop?
Will sitting for 30 seconds, or only 3 times a week help you reach your meditation goals in a time frame that suits you, or is going to take a little more than that?
Imagine this… If your goal was to run a marathon, how much training do you think it takes to get there….. or, if you want to lose 10 pounds of weight, would eating one less chocolate bar every second day get you there quick enough?
Yes…. I do agree with ‘not diving into the deep end’ before you know how to swim, however, apart from the physical discomfort, what can really go wrong with meditating for a little longer? And if you’re uncomfortable after 4 minutes, just change your position and begin again.
I would suggest that anything under 10 minutes, while it can be beneficial, may not get you to achieving your goals quickly enough. And this may cause you to become disillusioned and think that meditation is not working for you… so you may give up!
Ten minutes a day, most days, (doesn’t have to be every day, but could be several times a day as well) is a good goal, to begin with. (I prefer at least 20 minutes to really still the whole body and mind.)
HOWEVER… THE IMPORTANT THING IS THIS: HOW MUCH OF YOUR TIME MEDITATING WAS SPENT IN A RELAXED BENEFICIAL MEDITATIVE STATE?
Remind Yourself Why You Wanted To Begin Meditating In The First Place:
The numerous benefits of meditating are very well-researched and documented. So I won’t go into them a gain here. But if you are interested in learning more, this article is quite good: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
Although the science-based benefits are great, they are not the reason why I have continued regular practice for so many years.
For me, the main benefits are peace of mind, a sense of calm, greater control of myself and my life, and self-awareness…. basically the improved awareness of my SELF allows greater control of my mind, emotions, and body. And the upside to this is that I HAVE A GREATER ABILITY TO MANIFEST MY LIFE AS I WANT IT TO BE.
Yes, greater self-awareness allows us to choose and decide how we interact with others and the environment in general. And this empowers us to create better lives for ourselves and those that we love!
Never Judge Yourself Or Your Sessions As Good, Bad, Or Anything Else:
Anyone who’s meditated for a long time is going to tell you that sometimes you have good sessions and sometimes you just don’t get into a meditative state at all. And it’s at these times that it’s good to know that it may be better just to get up….
…. going and doing something else to take your mind off it, rather than beating yourself up for not being able to meditate, is sometimes the best thing you can do for your practice….
Sometimes, our daily lives just get the better of us. And we can’t escape the worry, fear, stress, hurt, anger, etc. It’s at these times that we would benefit the most from being able to still our minds, or being able to focus them toward more positive beneficial thoughts.
However, some alternatives that would also benefit us greatly include taking a walk in nature, going to the beach, or playing with our children or pets. Why? Our energy goes where our attention (thoughts) goes…. And if we are beating ourselves up because we are unable to meditate, it’s lowering our vibration…. Essentially, it’s SELF-HARM.
Whereas, if we put ourselves into any situation that distracts/directs our minds towards some pleasant aspects of life, it will raise our vibration…. and it is healing for us.
There is nothing more important than the way you are feeling…. so, always, always, always be good to yourself!
Set Boundaries So Others Won’t Disturb You:
If you’re sharing your space with others, family members, work colleagues, etc. it would be a good idea to let them know that ‘this is the time you are going to be meditating, and you are therefore not available!’
Then you have one less thing to distract you while you are meditating.
When others know that you are serious about your practice, they will give you the space to do it…. but sometimes, you have to make it very clear to them!
What you may find interesting is the way people behave and feel about you setting aside time for yourself, to ‘improve’ yourself…. You may get a variety of reactions depending on the types of people you are hanging out with, married to, or have raised your kids to be.
Choosing to meditate when you are in the company of others who are also on a journey of self-improvement will make it easier. However, if the company you keep includes angry, frustrated, stressed people, well, I wish you good luck… Your best option would be to meditate in a different space or when they are still asleep!
Just Do It! Just Meditate Anyway:
In the beginning, you may not feel like meditating. However, if you just accept that yes, I’m going to meditate now, and go through your normal routine, you will find that your mind and body will begin to relax. And as you notice yourself relaxing you will naturally ‘allow’ an even deeper state of relaxation to happen.
Just be with it, not forcing it or expecting anything to happen….. and eventually the mental, emotional and physical relief you experience will be a catalyst that makes you want to meditate more. I, and many others I’ve spoken to, all notice that if we just do it, our initial resistance or excuses just seem to fade away.
It’s easy to begin…. as easy as taking one slow deep breath with awareness…. and then another, and then another…. And when you notice you are distracted, just take a slow deep breath with awareness, and then another… and this flows into the next tip….
When Distracted, Just Begin Again:
Recognizing when you have been distracted or are not ‘meditating’ is actually a good thing. This is the ‘awareness’ that you are wanting to develop. And the only thing to do is to begin again, and again, and again….
This leads us to one of the most important benefits of meditating which is developing mental discipline.
And why is mental discipline so important?…. An undisciplined mind resides in a person who believes life is random and that they have no control over the circumstances of their lives. They accept things that are happening ‘to them’ as luck, chance, or fate…
Whereas an individual with a focused mind creates circumstances and opportunities for themselves and therefore ends up achieving their goals and dreams and therefore living a great life.
Take Advantage Of Any Free Time During Your Day:
Once we get the hang of it, meditating is one of the simplest things we can do. However, this doesn’t mean that we will always have a great session. But it does mean that we can be more versatile in the way we practice.
With experience, you will find that you will be able to practice more often, regardless of where you are or what’s happening around you. And when you can do this, you will know that every time you meditated in the past, whether you felt like it or not (especially when you didn’t feel like it), has been of benefit to get you to this point where it’s easy for you.
So, when you are waiting for the bus or train, in the dentists waiting room, 10 minutes before your favorite TV show starts, or anytime you think ‘what should I do now?’ just turn your attention to your breath and notice ‘how do I feel now?’ And you will feel your body become relaxed, your mind will find peace, and clarity will saturate your entire being.
Begin A Meditation Journal:
Writing down the positive experiences you had and the good feelings you achieved in each session will give you something to refer back to when you don’t feel like meditating. However, as I have already mentioned, sometimes it’s ok to just skip a session or two….
Go easy on yourself…. Because if you’re taking life too seriously, it’s probably one of the reasons you need meditation more so than others who are naturally more relaxed and prone to having more fun.
For many, the benefits of meditation are often slow, (however, they are cumulative) and therefore you may not be aware of how you are changing over time. Journaling will also give you a record of how you progress over the weeks, months, and years. This can be important for some people to refer back to.
Meditation Apps, Guided Meditations On YouTube, Or Join A Meditation Group:
Modern technology makes it easier than ever to meditate. Not only is instruction in many different methods readily accessible to everyone, but of most benefit are the Brainwave Entrainment Audios. These are specifically engineered audio tracks, using binaural beats and they can actively shift our brainwave state, quickly and easily, into deep meditative states.
I don’t suggest using technology every time you meditate, but when you want a quick and easy result, they are really beneficial. However, we should never rely on something external from us to do something that is essentially an internal process.
Meditation groups are a great way to meet others on a similar learning journey. Here, you can discuss any issues you may be having and learn from the experiences of others. However, eventually, you will get back to the core of meditation….
… and that is meditation is an internal experience… it’s all about you coming to know yourself, (not other people and their issues!) Eventually, you will want to meditate alone, you will enjoy it, and you will even crave the times you can meditate….
…. just for the profound relief, peace, and clarity that it brings to your life…. and that is why I still meditate after more than 25 years!
Meditating Regularly Is Definitely Something Worth Working Towards!
Our personalities, habits, stress, anxieties, etc. are things we have developed over many years… in fact, it’s taken our whole lives to get us to where we are now.
And if we are wanting to meditate to change some of our less desirable characteristics or to alleviate some of the stresses from our lives, it’s not something that can typically happen overnight!
What I’m getting at is that nearly everyone will not notice the positive benefits of maintaining a meditation practice in a ‘big’ way quickly.
However, if you maintain a regular practice, it’s possible that other people will notice the positive changes in you before you recognize them.
So, if you are currently finding it challenging to practice regularly, I urge you not to give up. Consider the points above and try to incorporate some of them into your mindset to help make your practice easier……
Remember, life is a journey and the best things develop over time…..