When we think about incorporating meditation in our lives, sometimes our first thought is: how am I going to fit this into my already busy schedule? Like anything else, we can only experience the full benefits of meditation if we actually commit to practicing this skill.
To get started, begin by carving out a 2-5 minute time slot during your day. There are many apps that help to lead guided meditations (such as Headspace or Calm) but meditation can also be practiced on your own by practicing deep breathing and staying conscious of the thoughts going through your mind.
Here are some helpful tips so you can get the most out of these precious minutes:
Pick the time of day that works best for you.
Whether it’s the morning, afternoon, during your child(s) nap time, or before bed, make the conscious decision to slot meditation into your day. You know yourself best, so choose the time of day when you feel you have the time to meditate and will hold yourself accountable to follow through.
Find your space.
Whether it’s your bedroom, couch, kitchen table, the floor, or even a bathroom, make sure you will have a minimum of 2 minutes of uninterrupted time to yourself. Lighting a candle or dimming the lights will help to differentiate this space for your meditation practice.
Either sitting in a comfortable chair, lying down on your back, or resting in a child’s pose will help you to settle in to begin meditating. Try to avoid getting under the covers if you’re meditating on your bed so you can create a mental distinction between sleep and meditation.
Close your eyes or relax the eyelids with a soft gaze, gently relaxing any tension from the neck and shoulders.
Breathe in. Breathe Out.
You’ve been doing this your whole life, so you’re already a pro.
Inhale through the nose, exhale from the mouth. If you’ve had a particularly stressful day, start by exhaling all the stale air making an audible “ahhhh” noise to prepare the body for fresh air to oxygenate the bloodstream. Take as many conscious deep breaths as you need at your own pace.
Watch your thoughts come and go.
Let go of what you think you should be thinking about and become an observer of your mind. Our minds are beautiful things and as we practice awareness of our thoughts, we’ll find that we have more control than we thought of what comes into our mind. Notice the stories that you tell yourself about what is “good” or “bad” and let them go, without judgement.
Use your mental clarity to your advantage.
When your allotted meditation time is up, take the lesson that your mind has just practiced into your day. Come back to the present moment and use the awareness of thought to bring you to a calm and centered place. After meditating might be a great time to get started on a project you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had the headspace to start. There’s no time like the present, and you’ll be more productive having just meditated to clear up some real estate in your mind.
Like anything else, meditation is a skill. We have to flex the muscle of thoughtful awareness in order to receive the full benefits that meditation can offer. If you can’t commit to doing it every day, pick a few days that work for you and take it from there.