Do you find it hard to maintain a regular meditation practice? If so, you’re not alone. We know that meditation brings a multitude of benefits when practiced daily – but it’s not always easy to stick to. Hectic schedules and commitments get in the way, we find excuses and we fall out of the habit. We tell ourselves we need to just ‘switch off’, or we aren’t in the mood. Meditation seems like yet another chore. In fact, the times we need meditation the most – when we’re stressed, anxious or overwhelmed – are often when we least feel like doing it.
So how do we change this? The answer lies in taming our minds and training them to enjoy meditation. To recognise and cherish it as not just another thing on our to-do list, but as something truly valuable that helps us to find inner peace. The following are great ways to support your meditation practice – and reap the benefits.
Create a calm setting
To meditate successfully, it’s best to have a peaceful setting. Find a space that is quiet and where you won’t be disturbed. You could add flowers, candles or images that you like to make the space feel special. Ideally, it’s best to practice in the same place every day. Over time, this helps us to subconsciously associate the space with a meditative state and automatically sets us up to experience a feeling of calm.
When we come to sit and close our eyes in meditation, we become aware of all the niggles and pains in our bodies. This can make it hard to stay focused. Yoga is a great preparatory practice for meditation, helping to make the body more flexible and strengthen the nervous system. Even simply stretching, shaking and moving for a few minutes before practicing helps to release tension and make sitting more comfortable.
Consistency is key when it comes to meditation. Find a time and rhythm that works for you and stick with it. This helps to train a pattern, wiring healthy neural pathways and making it easier to keep practicing. For the most benefits, try meditating morning and evening. It can be as short as just a few minutes – what matters is the quality of attention and the regularity. Don’t force it. Stay within what feels achievable, then start to build on this once you’ve established a rhythm. And if you fall off-track, relax, recognise that it’s part of the process and simply pick up again the following day.
Connect with what you enjoy
While it’s good to be dedicated, meditation shouldn’t feel like a chore. There’s no right or wrong way to meditate – explore what you most enjoy. It could be breathwork, visualisations, guided practices, body awareness or somatic movement. Or it might be connecting with the present moment through mindfulness or spending time in nature. Find what inspires you and follow it. Make your practice joyful, dynamic and alive, and allow it to vary according to your different moods and needs. In this way, meditation becomes a wonderful means to connect with yourself and to ease tension, not to create it.
Remember why you’re doing it
It’s vital to stay connected to what meditation means for you. Why do you choose to do it? Perhaps it brings you a feeling of calm and mind-body awareness. Maybe it helps you to relieve stress and anxiety and to manage your thoughts differently. Perhaps it sets you up for the day, or to enables you to wind down before bed. It might connect you to a sense of something bigger than yourself or help you to feel part of a community. Whatever it may be, if you’re clear about the benefits, it’s easier to stay motivated and committed to your practice.