How to Start A Meditation Practice
Author - Alyssa Rimmer
Interested in picking up meditation but not sure where to start? We'll show you how to start a meditation practice of your own in just 5 simple steps.
A few weeks ago, I sent an email out talking about meditation and mindfulness. I got so many responses from people who have been wanting to start meditation, but just don't know where to start.
So for today's Self Care Sunday, I thought we'd talk about it!
We'll cover some of the benefits of meditation, I'll talk about my personal journey with meditation, how to start a meditation practice for yourself and then we'll finish up with some resources for meditation. How does that sound?
The Benefits of Meditation
There are so many incredible benefits of meditation, that we could probably take an entire blog post to talk about it. But for time sake, and your sake, let's keep it high level and talk about why you might want to consider adding meditation into your routine.
So…why is meditation so great?
- It reduces stress
- It promotes happiness
- It improves concentration, focus and cognitive function
- It helps you relax
- It increases self-confidence, acceptance and awareness
And honestly, so much more!
But meditation can feel really challenging and overwhelming if you're brand new. It can feel like you're “bad” at it. Like you can't sit still for that long. Like your mind is racing a million miles a minute.
We'll talk about all that later on, but know that those feelings are totally normal. And should be expected as you're just getting started.
My Journey with Meditation
I thought it would be helpful to share my own personal journey with meditation because I feel like it's pretty common.
I actually first learned about meditation through a podcast about 4 years ago. It's a podcast targeted at entrepreneurs and the guest on the show talked about how much it transformed their life and business. I was in the year leading up to leaving my full-time job and I felt like anything I could do to help my business be better, and help me be a better entrepreneur, was something I had to reach for.
So I started a 10-minute daily meditation practice. And guess how long I lasted? 5 days.
It wasn't enjoyable, it wasn't freeing, it wasn't something I could fit into my routine and I just didn't want to keep doing it. So I stopped, put it on the back burner and totally forgot about it.
Until… September of 2016 when Matt and I decided to take a little break from our relationship. This isn't something that I've talked about before and I'm not going to dive too deeply into it, but at this juncture in my life, where I was now living without that person I'd become so accustomed to having around, it felt really strange.
And I decided that I needed to learn how to be happy with myself before I could be happy with anyone else.
Enter meditation. In October, I decided to do 30 days of meditation. I downloaded a new app (more on that in a sec) and told myself I would meditate 10-minutes every single day. And you know what? I did about 26 or 27 of those 30 days and felt amazing!
I left for my Thailand trip shortly after, where I continued to the meditation practice, but when I got back home (right around the holidays), I stopped again. And it hasn't been something I've been able to stay consistent with until the beginning of this year.
Matt and I are now back together, which I'm sure you know, but that break was really meaningful and important for both of us. We both learned how to be more independent, we learned how to exist without the other person, we learned how to take chances on ourselves and found that we just needed that little space to bring us closer together.
Now in 2018, I am more consistently meditating (still not every single day), and notice how different I feel on the days I don't meditate. I can see how beneficial this practice is and I hope that this post will help you start!
How to Start a Meditation Practice
I want to start this section by telling you there is no one way to start a meditation practice. It's a very individualized thing, and the type of meditation that works for me might not work for you. But these are the steps I went through to start on my journey.
1. Begin with Guidance
I started by trying a few different free guided meditations on YouTube and then decided to download an app on my phone. I think guided meditation is the perfect way to start because you're not just sitting alone with your thoughts. You're listening to someone speak who is giving you cues to breathe, to maybe scan your body, and it helps your mind stay focused.
Unguided meditation, which is essentially just you sitting either in silence or with some soft music, I have found is much more challenging. My mind tends to wander, I have more trouble focusing and I don't feel as good after it's over.
The app I use now is called Calm and I love it. It's easy to use, it has a huge variety of sessions, and it has made meditation more enjoyable for me. Try it out for yourself and if it doesn't work for you, others I have heard of are Headspace and Insight Timer.
2. Start Small
One of the scariest or off-putting parts of meditation is the idea that in order to meditation properly you have to do it for 20 minutes every single day. I don't know about you, but that puts me off!
The idea that you have to meditate for a certain amount of time in order for it to be effective is bogus!
If you're just getting started, I recommend starting small. Start with 3 minutes every single day for one week. Once you've got three down, move to five. Once you've got 5, move to 10 and so on. You could work your way up to 20 or 30 minutes, OR you could stick with 5.
Most days I'm either doing a 5 minute or 10-minute meditation. And that's it! It doesn't have to take up a huge amount of your time and easing your way into it, it becomes more of a habit rather than a chore.
3. Find Your Time
Most people like to meditate in the morning. I personally have found that to work best for me as well, but that doesn't necessarily work for everyone.
If morning isn't your time, that's okay! Try lunchtime, or right before bed.
You just want to find a pocket in your day that you can be consistent with because by being consistent and sticking to a similar schedule each day, you are able to turn your meditation into part of your daily routine. It becomes something you don't even have to think about.
4. Find Your Space
Another thing that can be really helpful in building a consistent meditation practice is finding a place to practice it. You want to find somewhere quiet where you won't be disturbed. Somewhere that is comfortable. Somewhere that is relaxing.
I actually sit on my couch most mornings, with Trevi curled up next to me. I usually meditate while Matt is getting ready for work, so something that has really helped me is a pair of noise-canceling headphones. I pop these babies on, they're nice and comfy, and I can't hear anything by my music and the guidance.
If you don't have that, just find a space in your house that works. It might take some testing to find where that is (it could be in your bedroom, next to your bed, in your office, etc.), but once you do find it, try to always meditate in that same place.
5. Build It Into Your Routine
Which brings us to the 4th point; building meditation into your routine.
Just like with anything else in life, the more you do something and the more consistent you do it, the more routine it becomes. That's our goal with meditation. That it becomes part of your daily life without you even having to think about it. Like your morning cup of coffee or tea. Meditation is just part of what you do.
Granted, it can take a loooong time to get there. I'm a testament to that fact. I'm still not doing it every single day and I've been focusing on it since January.
But if you stick with it, I promise, eventually it will become just another thing you do each day.
6. Don't Give Up
Lastly, don't give up if you don't get it right away.
Meditation is called a practice for a reason; it takes time to build up your meditation skills. It isn't going to happen overnight. So if there are days when you're feeling totally stressed or your mind is all over the place, don't get mad at yourself. That's a natural part of life and happens to everyone.
Or if there is a day or two that you miss your meditation, that's also okay!
And let's say you've been consistently meditating for 10 minutes daily and there's a day where you can only do 3. Also, totally fine!
There aren't any strict “rules” with meditation. Each person comes at it differently and each day is going to feel different. Just be gentle with yourself as this is a practice that will evolve as you evolve with it. And don't give up on yourself!
My Favorite Meditation Resources
Meditation Playlists on YouTube: you can just search that term and thousands of things will come up!
Meditation Classes: check your local area to see if there are any teachers that offer meditation classes. Sometimes community bulletins or listserves can be a great place to find that info!
Meditation Retreats: take your meditation even further and sign up for a retreat! Do a Google search for “Meditation retreat (plus your area)” and see what comes up. You might be surprised to see there are places to go very close to where you live!
What are your thoughts on meditation? Is this something you've incorporated into your routine? If you have more info to share, any meditation videos you love, or just generally have thoughts on the topic, please feel free to share below!
I'm excited to hear how this works for you and I hope this post helped you if you're just getting started!
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