Building Your Sitting Meditation Practice
I’m dropping in on the blog today to share some little tips on building a meditation practice. I’ve been consistently meditating every morning for over a year now and it’s honestly one of the best self-care habits that I’ve developed. Not only does it serve as a great way to ground myself before jumping into the day, it also provides me with a consistent source of comfort, as I know that I can always come back to it when I need.
The idea of meditation can be really intimidating. We think of an ancient guru sitting unmoving in a cave for days upon end. We think that in order to meditate, we have to clear our minds of thought. Although one could potentially cultivate the ability to clear the mind through a rigorous and dedicated meditation practice, there are a lot of benefits to gain from simply engaging in the practice. If you are interested in developing a mediation practice or simply improving your existing one, here are a few tips based on my experience.
Meditate in the morning.
In my experience, meditating shortly after I get out of bed is the best way to go. As the day gets going, it becomes harder to find time and easier to forget about it altogether. Also, because I use meditation as a grounding practice, it’s really critical that I set that foundation for myself before I’m subject to the host of external forces that come with living life.
Work out the kinks.
Ideally, we could all begin each morning with a lovely asana practice before moving into a mediation. Realistically, most of us cannot or will not do this. I do find, however, that my mediation sessions are easier when I allow myself to work out the mental and physical kinks a bit first. For me, this means taking some time to warm up my body with some stretching or dancing. Against the advice of many wellness gurus, I also allow myself to check my phone before I meditate. I personally find that I can sit more easily after having done a little check in with the web. You have to know yourself and your relationship to technology to decide what’s healthiest for you but don’t be too hard on yourself if you check in with the online world before you check in with yourself. While I do allow myself to scroll through Instagram, I have a hard and fast rule against listening or reading any political news before my mediation.
Keep it short and sweet.
As you develop your practice, I would definitely encourage you to play around with the length of time that you sit. It’s amazing to see how much easier it becomes with consistent work. You should not assume, however, that your meditation has to be long in order for it to be beneficial. If you’re looking to develop your meditation practice and you’re overwhelmed by the idea of sitting still for long periods of time, I suggest setting a timer for 3 minutes and then once you feel comfortable, you can add on.
Focus on self-observation.
As I mentioned earlier, the idea of clearing your mind can be extremely intimidating. You should instead think of your meditation practice as a time for self-observation. It’s a moment of check in at the beginning of the day to see where you are mentally, physically, and emotionally. During my meditation, I often take note of my breath – what’s the quality? Is it shallow? Is it full? How are my mind and body reacting to stillness? From here, I can get a sense of what mental state I might be navigating throughout the day.
Although technology can often be a weapon of mass distraction, we can also use it for good. There are so many meditation app out there. If you can’t bear the thought of just sitting in silence, there are apps that provide soothing ambient sound. If you don’t think you’re ready to get through a meditation without guidance, there are apps that will provide prompts to help you manage your thoughts. I play around with different apps but I always find myself coming back to Insight Timer. You can read more about the apps that I’ve tried in this post.
I would love to hear more about your mediation practice or your desire to develop one in the comments below. Hope some of this is helpful.