Published on Feb 14, 2022 By Lisa Codina
When you’re new to meditation, it is often challenging to maintain a regular practice. This is perfectly normal for beginners, and also for experiences practitioners. According to one of the 7 Pillars of Mindfulness, we should embrace a “Beginner’s Mind” whenever we meditate. Essentially this means that we should cultivate a mindset that is willing to see everything as it is, as if it were for the very first time. We must be receptive to new possibilities and not get stuck in a rut of our own expertise and acknowledge that each moment, especially in meditation, is unique.
A “Beginner’s Mind” is a start, but sitting with the mind requires commitment, discipline, and perseverance, and many factors can contribute to, or hinder our meditation experience.
Here are some practical meditation tips to get you started and to help you establish a strong foundation for your practice:
1. Create an inviting space
Choose a space in your home that you can devote to your practice. It doesn’t need to be fancy nor decked out with meditation gadgets, but it should be a space that invites calm. Keep a yoga mat and a bolster or pillow handy if you prefer meditating while seated. Whatever the case, create a space that provides a reminder to practice and eliminates the chore of having to set up each time.
2. Make it a part of your schedule
Many people prefer or suggest meditating in the morning so you can set the tone for the day, but it is important to ask yourself when is a good time for you! For example, are you a morning person or a night owl? Perhaps waking up earlier in the morning resonates with you, but if you struggle with it and this hinders you from practising then try meditation before bed. Whatever the case, choose a time of day that works best for your needs and your schedule and try to create a routine by sticking to that time each day.
3. Don’t get caught up in the HOW — just DO!
One of the most important factors when starting a meditation practice it to feel physically comfortable. It doesn’t matter where you practice, whether you sit or lay down, which cushion you use, whether you sit in silence, listen to music, etc. Just make the intention to be in the moment, whatever that may look like. Create a foundation for your practice then you can worry about the small things later.
4. Sit for just 3 minutes
This may seem ridiculously easy to do, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly and how often the mind can wander in 3 minutes! Make the commitment to start with just 3 minutes. If all goes well, increase by another 3 minutes and practice that for one week. Continue to increase the time, little by little. Before you know it, you’ll be meditating for a longer period of time.
5. Start with guided meditation
It can be difficult to navigate your own thoughts when starting a meditation practice. Guided audio meditations provide a solid foundation, and provide reminders on coming back tot he present moment, and letting go of judgmental thoughts. Use a meditation app that resonates with you or try these!
6. Adopt a Loving-Kindess attitude
You will notice thoughts and feelings arise during meditation, and it will be easy for you to make judgments and self-criticize. Try to look at them with a kind and compassionate attitude. The purpose of meditation isn’t to block our thoughts or emotions, nor push them away. One of the goals of meditation is to practice focusing your attention, letting what comes in be, and staying with it, observing whatever comes up, until you can refocus your attention back to the present moment.
7. Practice. Every. Day.
This cannot be stressed enough. You must really commit yourself to the practice. Perhaps, set a ‘long-term’ goal, for example one week or one month to start. One of the biggest obstacles to practicing mindfulness is one’s own ability to create a never-ending list of reasons and excuses as to why one should not be practicing. If you value it, you will find both the time and the space to do it.
8. Observe gratitude
Remind yourself that you’ve made this commitment and that you’re sticking to it! Each time you sit to meditate and each time you finish your meditation, smile. Observe gratitude for your willingness and motivation to practice. Be grateful that you gifted this time to yourself, and that you continue to show up.