I was recently asked by a student at the end of a retreat about my personal meditation practice and how to maintain one.
Let’s face it, most people are busy with full time jobs, kids, evening classes, hobbies, commuting etc. When is there time to just sit?
That’s what your mind wants you to think anyway. One of the hardest things to do is to just sit. In silence. And to do nothing.
Your mind will do anything, ANYTHING, to avoid this!
So here’s what I do. It works for me…
My ten tips for developing a home meditation practice
1. Sit comfortably – In the morning, I find a quiet spot in the house and I sit comfortably, which generally means on a chair. When meditating it's important to not be distracted by physical twinges, so don’t worry about how you sit as long as it’s comfortable, but not so comfortable that you’ll fall asleep!
2. Use an app – Some days I close my eyes and I sit with my breath for five minutes. I use an app called Insight Timer, as it has a nice chime to help me out of the meditation, as opposed to a phone alarm. It has a nice social feature too and you can see that other people are meditating across the world with you.
3. Vary it – On other days, I practice pranayama and I’ll vary this depending what I feel I need that day. My favourites are nadi shodhana, which really balances me, and brahamari or humming bee breath. I also practice kapalbhati.
4. Mindful walking – If for some reason I don’t get to sit, I'll have a mindful walk to work taking in my breath and surroundings…coffee optional!
5. Savasana – During yoga class, I use savasana as another opportunity to take myself into meditation, focusing on my breath and letting thoughts go.
6. Journaling – I note and have gratitude for the benefits that meditating has brought to me and if something comes up for me, I write it in my yoga journal. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does and I have a little ‘epiphany’ I note it down.
7. Have a routine – My meditations have become a routine and I miss them with I skip one. When I sit in the morning after rushing around the house getting ready for work, I instantly notice my heartbeat slowing and my mind calming. Although my meditations are short, they have a deeply calming effect on me. Get into a routine for 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 2 minutes, it doesn’t matter, just make the space for something.
8. No guilt – Meditating has become an essential practice for me, but I don’t beat myself up if I miss a day. So don’t feel guilty if you miss a practice. Just get back to it when you can.
9. Guided mediations – If I don’t get to meditate in the morning, I sometimes use a guided meditation from the internet or an app before I go to bed. I have to admit, I don’t always hear the full thing, but if I’ve missed my morning meditation, it means I’ve had a busy day and I’m probably tired.
10. Don’t judge – I don’t judge my meditations. Some days your mind is going to be busier than others. Some days you’ll be tired. Some days you’ll be relaxed. That’s life. Know that your meditation is exactly how it is meant to be that day and go with it. There’s no right or wrong.
Meditating has huge benefits
Meditating has been linked to lowering blood pressure, stress, depression and insomnia and increasing happiness, wellbeing and inner peace. I've certainly found this in my life through meditating and am grateful to have found it.
Yoga and meditation help me to put space and perspective around any challenges I encounter in a way that I couldn't have done before.
So don't wait for the perfect time to meditate, just grab five minutes when you can. It will become an essential part of your physical and mental wellness and you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.
By Meabh Smith