I’m presuming some of the people who read my blog are mindfulness practitioners. After all if you’re not, then a blog about mindfulness and practicing it might not tick any boxes for you.
So if you are you will probably have experienced at some point in your practice the resistance to meditation. For newbies to meditation it is in essence taking time out from thinking – to focus either on a guided meditation, or a sound, or silence.
If you are a beginner, or even just a bit curious the fact that it centres on meditation might even be putting you off; a bunch of hippies in a room chanting ‘Om’ not your cup of tea?
Thankfully meditation has moved on since the 70s, but I have still found it really hard to maintain a daily practice. Remember when you were young and it was exam time? Your bedroom never looked so tidy. That displacement technique we used then I am using now to full effect. Why meditate when I can load the dishwasher? Why meditate when I can take the dogs for a walk? Why meditate when I can make coffee and watch Netflix on my iPad?
There’s a very good, very frustrating answer to why I meditate, and why it would help you if you’re looking for a calmer, more peaceful way of living. It makes a massive difference. The head space I find when I meditate brings peace of mind, calmness and somehow more ability to cope with what life throws at me. It even throws in little insights into my world when I’m not even looking. Even though some days thoughts fly in and out of my head at a faster speed than Concorde ever did. You see I don’t think meditation comes naturally. It’s not something you can sit down first time and ‘do’. You aren’t suddenly going to have a mind as clear as crystal after you’ve done 10 minutes. It takes many sittings and many practices to master it, and even then you can find yourself finding it really bloody difficult to concentrate on the breath. But every breath makes a difference.
So why I find so many other reasons not to meditate? I guess it’s resistance to change, and it takes up time. There’s a school of thought that 10 minutes a day is enough to make a different – great. However I want to teach mindfulness so I need to have a much longer daily practice. Secondly it’s not always easy. When you’ve had a bad day at work , to clear your head of what your boss said to you and who’s used all the paperclips this week can be tough. But not meditating will be tougher on you in the long run. I have now ruminated, tidied just about everything, and have found solutions on how to make it easier to meditate. Here’s five tips to share with you to help get you started or back on track
- Find a time and stick to it – If you make meditation a habit, it’s more likely to stick. I now get up at 6:20 (precisely!) for my meditation because even though I am not particularly a morning person, I know that as many times as I’ve tried to do it in the evening I never succeed; when I come home I want to eat, chill and sleep.
- Use guided meditations – if you practice meditation for a while, it’s easier to sit in silence and listen to just your breath. However particularly when you first get going, and even when you’ve been practicising for a time, it’s nice to do different meditations on different aspects; from compassion, to mindfulness meditations for peace, improved sleep, mindful eating – you name it there’s a meditation for it. Check out either headspace app for a meditation subscription that’s easy to do (there’s a 30 day free trial too to see if you like it), or go to Youtube where you access tonnes of free meditations on just about everything.
- Make a physical space – It can be hard to clear your mind if you’re sitting in a cluttered room surrounded by dirty washing, toys or other clutter. If you have the space – make a specific area where you can practice – with a favourite chair, or a meditation cushion, you can make a little space with things that help you meditate; a picture of something that inspires you, pebbles or crystals if you’re so inclined, a candle or an oil burner. If you’re like me and live in a small home with no permanent space- I meditate in bed in the morning sitting upright- but with a pebble that I was given from my mindfulness training, and a lotus wax melt burner that emits a lovely fragrance. It’s something that sets the space
- Keep a journal – If you want to work out if meditation is working for you, keep a journey. When you’re regularly practicing and you’re writing about hoe you’re feeling, compare that to when you have a lapse, or you can’t regularly practice and see the difference.
- Find a buddy – Lots of things are better with two – if you prefer to perhaps go to a meditation group, or have a friend who’s also interested you can work together to remind each other to meditate, talk about how it’s working for you or recommend different meditations.
Finally don’t give up. Getting a meditation practice to last is a work in progress. Believe me I am still working on it. Eventually it will become a habit and the benefits you will get from meditating will be the difference.
Have you got any tips on how to keep a meditation practice going?