I have been reading and learning about mindfulness and meditation for nearly 30 years and a consistent meditation practice has always been a goal of mine. But like drinking more water, getting enough sleep, and taking my vitamins (to name a few other healthy habits on my goal list), my meditation practice has never become a real priority or a consistent part of my daily routine.
Then Covid happened.
Like many of us, I was seriously struggling with how to handle the new stresses of my personal life along with processing what was happening in the country and the world. I knew that I had to do more to manage increased anxiety and stress levels than my usual outlets of Pilates and long walks. One of the steps I made was to commit to starting a daily meditation practice.
I am far from a meditation expert or teacher, but here are a few tips that I have learned over the past few months.
- Make the commitment and share it with a friend or family member. When I made this decision, I told my husband, son (almost 7) and daughter (4) that I planned to meditate every day for at least 10 minutes. I wanted them to know that I had made this commitment to myself and that I would be doing it every day. Saying it out loud also helped me with accountability.
- Find an app that you like and download it to your phone or ipad. I use Insight Timer (and love it!), but there are many free apps available.
- Keep track of your sessions. Insight Timer keeps track of my sessions for me. It felt great to see “40 consecutive days” this week! Each milestone helps me stay accountable to myself. I definitely don’t want to break my streak!
- Find a quiet spot (or two!) in your house. Although I have a space in my bedroom for meditation, (a comfy rug, meditation pillow, meditation books, salt lamp, etc), I often find myself choosing the walk in closet for a quieter practice! I realized that when my eyes are closed, it doesn’t really matter where I am as long as I feel safe and comfortable.
- Be flexible. One day I waited until the evening to do my practice, and found myself running out of time. The kids were having a hard time falling asleep and needed me to be in the room with them. I decided to choose a kid-friendly meditation and we sat together that night. It helped them calm down and fall asleep and I didn’t miss my practice for the day.
- Try different types of meditations. There are so many types of meditation practices. Try several different types and see what works best for you. Some days I sit in silence (you can use Insight Timer as a timer only with lovely bells or chimes to alert you when you are finished!), some days I need a guided meditation. I have found that music is helpful on certain days and that the chanting of Buddhist monks is soothing and calming to me.
- Involve your family. If you have a partner or children, see if they are interested in joining you in your new healthy habit. On most days I announce when I am going to do my “sit” and invite them to join me. No pressure. No fighting. If they want to join, they can, if they don’t, they don’t. My kids have joined me many times (I just ask them to leave quietly if they are done before I am), but on a few occasions my son sat with me for my entire session. It was beautiful!
- Judgement free zone. For years I judged myself about how I was meditating (along with so many other things!). I wasn’t “doing it right” or ten minutes wasn’t long enough to count as a practice. Part of the practice for me over the past few months has been to let go of some of that judgement. Just by taking the time- even 10 minutes a day- I know I am doing something good for my mind, body and soul.
I hope these tips are helpful to you. If you have been thinking about starting a meditation practice, why not now? Be kind to yourself and start small. You can do this and will likely feel the benefits quickly.
I will leave you with a part of the Metta or Loving Kindness Meditation. It’s one of my favorites.
May you be happy.
May you be safe.
May you be healthy.
May you be strong.
May you be at peace.