In our fast paced society where productivity is highly valued and instant gratification is coveted, it can be very difficult to step away, unplug and just sit quietly with ourselves. We could discuss the benefits of meditation to convince ourselves the importance of this practice but if you are reading this article, chances are you already have some intuitive feeling that this practice would benefit you and you are ready to simply sit. For most of us, every moment of the waking day is spent focused on the external world. What would happen if we took that focus and brought it inward? The only way to find out is to develop a meditation routine.
Like many things we know to be good for us, it can still be challenging to take action. With meditation, this is especially the case because the side of us that wants to see results and feel that gratification typically doesn’t feel fulfilled by simply Being. Our minds play all kinds of tricks and make excuses to convince us there is a better way to spend our time. So here are some tips to settle down, cultivate awareness and begin to get to know who we truly are.
Start with 5 Minutes
One way to start sitting regularly is to start small with just five minutes. No matter how busy we are, everyone has five minutes to spare! By telling ourselves, “It’s only for five minutes!”, our busy minds give much less resistance to the idea. Typically taking those five minutes can end up longer as we relax into the practice.
“Book-End” Your Day with Meditation
Another idea is to use meditation as the ‘book-ends’ for our day. This allows for a cohesive container where we can hold space for ourselves and ultimately for those around us as we become more mindful of our thoughts, words and actions. Waking up and sitting is a beautiful way to start and/or end your day. By waking up and meditating, the intention of your day begins with learning to be more present with our family, friends, co-workers and ourselves through this practice. At night, a meditation practice allow us to unwind, decompress and let go of all things that happened during the day. No matter what time of the day we choose for meditation, it helps to keep it consistent.
We can set create the cause for meditation by making space for a regular meditation routine in our schedules as well as in our homes. We could set up an area that we reserve only for this time. It can be a corner of our bedroom, office, den, anywhere that is quiet and we can sit uninterrupted. It’s helpful to set up cushions or a chair so that it’s ready for us. We can make the space cozy and inviting so we feel drawn there. We can even choose to make an altar on a table in front of the sitting space with photos and things that help us feel inspired. Light candles, burn incense, set up a diffuser– anything that allows us to feel calm and relaxed.
Don’t Hesitate… Meditate!
As soon as the desire to meditate pops into our heads, we can go directly to that quiet place and start sitting. When we hesitate, we give space for our minds to doubt, question and convince us there are ‘better’ things we can do instead.
It’s helpful to remember meditation is not easy. Sometimes we can come in contact with parts of ourselves we’ve repressed, thoughts that are ugly towards ourselves or others and the non-stop movement of our monkey minds! Just simply showing up for ourselves in this way is enough. If we are feeling discouraged or dissatisfied, it’s important to remember that this practice is not about improving, it’s about accepting. It’s not about getting ahead, it’s about arriving into ourselves, here and now.
Author: Devon Smolca, MS