An integral approach to supporting your meditation practice can set you up for sustainable success, turning your good intentions into a positive habit for life!
Many people are inspired to start meditating by the recent FAST Company article. And yes, it can be challenging. There’s also a lot of hype or misconceptions to overcome – like the idea that the inner chatter in your mind will quickly go quiet. Or that it’s even supposed to go quiet. NOT!
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Tips and Guidelines for starting a Meditation Practice
If you’d like to start, or re-invigorate a meditation practice, here are some coaching guidelines. These are all based on my own personal experience and many others. They all support meditation practice in real life by busy people.
1. Have a Purpose
Know what is driving you to start meditating. What specific itch are you trying to scratch? Where does it hurt? Try to name these discomforts specifically. E g . “I am worried about xxx” or “My relationship with xxx is troubling me” is a lot better than “I’m feeling stressed out”.
Imagine what better might look like. While you might not achieve it, it helps to have an idea of where you’d like to go. “I’d like to not blurt out so much in my conversations”. “I’d like to enjoy my food, really taste it – maybe 3-4 times a week anyway.”
2. Do It Regularly
Pick a method. There are many available. Focusing on your breath is one. But almost anything can be the focus of your meditation. Try also: your body sensations, sounds around you, sights around you, relaxing sensations in the body when you are sitting, the blank mental screen that you see behind your eyelids when you close your eyes. Get supports from online apps, guided meditations, books or other ways to anchor your method solidly.
Make time in your schedule – same time every day if you can. A little bit of practice done regularly is better than longer times occasionally. If you plan to do 20 minutes and find you only have time for 10 minutes – fine. Do those 10 minutes.
3. Get Support from Friends and Family
Find a buddy. Find an online group or class. There are many available now. A friend and I text each other every morning – have you done your practice? There will be ups and downs which you will weather much more easily in the company of others.
Meditate with others. It really is true – when people meditate in a room together, the energy is stronger. Plus you don’t want to wiggle and disturb others! Set up a small group in your office or near your home. Join a class – in person or online – to benefit both from solid instruction, Q&A and the support of others.
4. Be Prepared for Windows and Walls
Plan ahead for challenging days and how you might respond. If you fall off the wagon – just get back on again and don’t beat yourself up about it.
5. Be kind to yourself.
This is all about getting to know yourself from the inside out. The more you accept what you are experiencing in meditation as just an experience and greet it openly – the faster the oogly bits will fall away!
6. Do it on the run.
I mean this literally. You can pay attention to your breath, your muscle tone (or aches) while you work out, at yoga, while running – any sport or game will be potentiated when you add a “mental game” component to it. Doing this simple add-on could easily double or more take your total meditation time. If you’re going to truly re-wire your brain, then the number of reps counts!.
7. Manage your expectations.
Remember – this is a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t brush your teeth for a few days only – you do it forever, so you have teeth forever. So brush off and exercise your mind – forever. Start small, build slowly, ease up on yourself – and add a dose of humour for good luck!