Meditation is scientifically proven to decrease stress and increase focus. Regular meditators state they experience decreased anxiety and increased overall happiness after incorporating meditation into their daily lives.
In today’s busy world it is easy to skip out on setting aside the time in our days to meditate, but according to the experts the benefits of sitting on the meditation cushion prove to be worth the time. So how can we help make sure we meditate every day?
The researchers say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so here are six helpful tips on how to make daily meditation a habit:
1. Pick a time of the day to meditate and stick to it.
Like brushing our teeth, having a set time to meditate makes it more likely that we do it everyday. At first it may feel difficult, but soon it will become part of the daily routine. Many people meditate in the morning, right as they wake up, or after walking their dog, or as soon as they finish that first cup of morning coffee. Other people are nighttime meditators, choosing to take the time to sit and breathe at the end of their day right before bedtime to help wind down. Try it a couple different times of the day, see what works best for you, and then stick to it.
2. Create a space to meditate.
There’s no need to remodel your home when it comes to creating a space to meditate. Simply designating a specific seat at the kitchen table or a spot on the floor to one’s practice can do wonders in creating a meditation space. An extra step may include lighting a favorite candle before you begin to practice, incorporating another one of the five senses into the mix. By going a little further in making the practice feel more attuned to personal preferences, we become more willing to take the time to sit.
3. Sit. Even when you don’t want to.
At the start it can feel like a burden to carve twenty minutes, or even five minutes, out of our hectic schedules to meditate. It almost always feels like there could be something better we could be doing with our time then sitting and “doing nothing.” Seasoned meditators face this dilemma just as much as first time meditators, but seasoned meditators also know how their mind will feel if they don’t sit so they make sure not to skimp out on it. After the first month of regular meditating (for twenty minutes a day), MRI scans have shown a shrinkage of the amygdala, which is responsible for our brain’s flight or fight response. So even when it feels like a chore to sit down to meditate, try not to forget about all the benefits to be reaped.
4. Meditate with others.
Find other meditators to help keep you accountable. When first establishing a daily meditation practice it can be helpful to have a self-designated “accountability partner.” If you have a friend willing to act as your accountability partner, ask them if you can send them a text every day to check-in and share that you’ve meditated for the day. It can be a detailed text about how your practice was or it can just be an emoji describing the tone of the practice. Try it for four weeks and see how it affects both of your practices.
5. Be gentle with yourself.
Meditation may sound like a simple habit in theory, but it can be a difficult one to establish. Remember to be kind to yourself as you learn to calm your mind. Meditation is meant to be a form of self-care, not a form of self-aggression, so treat yourself well as you work to establish a daily practice. You can even reward yourself with a treat at the end of the week for a job well done once you’ve completed your first seven consecutive days of meditating (we are fans of a daily rewards system for ourselves as well).
6. Find an online community that can help support you.
Online communities can be a great support system to keep you on track with a new practice of meditation. My own platform Mother Yin is a free holistic online platform created to help women find balance in their bodies, minds, and lives. It features wholesome balancing meditations in its bi-monthly email newsletter, as well as interviews with leading female meditation teachers to help inspire your own meditation practice for those moments when you don’t feel like sitting on the cushion.
Happy Meditating in 2020! Be gentle, be kind, be soft, like the breath.