I’ve mentioned meditation from time to time here, but I realised recently that I haven’t actually dedicated a whole post to it yet – which is pretty surprising, because it’s a practice I love.
I thought I’d share with you what I get out of it and offer some advice on how to build your own practice. But what I want to start with is a disclaimer – and that’s that meditation, in its traditional form, isn’t for everyone.
Learning to be more present, aware of your breath and able to find calm however, is. And there are plenty of different ways you can achieve that – going on walks, knitting, swimming, reading, cooking, etc. For some of us however, a dedicated practice like meditation is hugely helpful.
Some people irk at the mention of meditation, and I get it. It’s often sold as a magic cure-all, when it really isn’t. What it is, is a tool.
This tool does different things for different people, but for me it helps with the following:
- Creating a sense of space
- Raising my self-awareness
- Calming stress
- Easing anxiety symptoms
- Reminding me the importance of my breath
- Allowing me to pause
- Giving my busy mind a rest
I would love to tell you it’s something I do for an hour every morning as the sun rises, but alas, this is not the case. It’s more of a 10-minute thing that I aim to squeeze in three to four times a week. And that alone helps with all of the above. Of course for me this comes alongside yoga, journaling and a robust self-care regime. In the past it came alongside therapy.
It’s just one of the tools I have to help me feel mentally healthy, but an important one nonetheless.
When people struggle to meditate, I think it’s often down to some common misconceptions, such as that it has to be a daily habit, or that it must be at a certain time of the day.
You may think if you’re not able to ‘stop’ thinking, you’re doing it wrong (which, spoiler, isn’t the case). There can appear to be so many rules to meditation it can feel like an elite golf club that’s frankly not worth the effort getting into.
But when you do knock on the club house door of meditation and get the right answer, you’ll find that none of these misconceptions are true. Yes, it helps to make it a habit for consistency – but the rest is up to you. Here’s a little guidance if you’re thinking of starting a meditation practice.
Start with short, guided meditations
If you’re new to the world of meditation, I personally think guided is the way to go – you’ll have someone with a lovely soothing voice telling you what to do. Shorter meditations that last five to 10 minutes at first is ideal too – easier to fit into a schedule and less intimidating when starting out.
If you end up loving it, build up your time. See what feels good to you. For me right now, 10-15 minute meditations suit me perfectly.
Find a time that works for you
There are so many articles telling you that certain times are ‘best’ for meditation, but the best time is the time you’ll be able to stick to. I tried morning meditations and was far too tired to be present. I tried meditating before bed and fell asleep. Lunchtime meditations worked well for me in the summer when I could sit outside alone and feel the warm sun on my skin. Now, in a busy staff room – it’s not happening.
For me, the sweet spot is when I get home from work. I get home before Dan so have the flat to myself and am finding it a helpful way to drop whatever’s left in my head from work and prepare for an evening of relaxation (or blog writing!). But the key thing is to look at your schedule and see what works for you.
It doesn’t have to be daily
Of course, if you can get it to become a daily practice – then that’s awesome. I’ve heard nothing but good things from people who do this, but, if you start beating yourself up for missing a day, it’ll end up feeling like a chore and you’ll lose the will to meditate.
In order to make it an ongoing practice, you have to enjoy it. The second you create hard and fast rules, you suck out the joy. Make it something you look forward to, and if life gets in the way? No worries, pick it up again tomorrow. Just try to be aware of what is getting in the way and noting when your time would actually better be spent meditating…
You don’t need any props
Meditation pillows, candles, gongs and incense are all very nice yes, but they aren’t a prerequisite. You don’t need to spend money to meditate – there are free apps and free videos on YouTube to follow. Like yoga, meditation can be seen as a practice for the privileged, when all you really need is somewhere to be still and a few minutes of your day.
Once you find a slot in your day that works, a meditation app/video that works for you (I love Headspace and Insight Timer) and you let go of the ‘shoulds’… it all falls into place. If you struggle to remember to meditate, add it to your to do list (this is what I do) or set yourself a reminder on your phone.
For me, meditation forms part of my self-care routine. It’s one of the small things I can plan in to keep me ticking along. Building up a self-care routine should ideally consist of a few different elements, and this will depend on your circumstances and schedule.
If you want some support creating a sustainable self-care routine, send me an email or fill in this form to book a self-care strategy session. Together we’ll look at what’s holding you back, what your schedule looks like and how you can fit self-care in.
When we’re done I’ll send you a bespoke document for your reference along with other resources, and I’ll check in with you 30 days after our call to see how you’re getting on (and offer some gentle accountability).
If you already meditate, I would love you to share your tips in the comments below – do you use an app? When in the day does meditation fit in best for you?
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