By Tania Ho
May 21, 2020
Today in this blog I am sharing with you five practical tips to help you get into a daily or regular meditation practice.
One thing I’ve learned in parenting, or specifically potty training with a toddler, is in order to setup success, you need to remove any barriers to success as much as possible at the beginning. In potty training, one barrier to success, for example, is too much clothing to fiddle around and to take off in order to get the pee in the potty in time.
How about for meditation? To be able to setup a successful meditation practice, we also need to help ourselves as much as possible by removing any potential barriers to success.
My tips may be obvious to some but they are all practical things that sometimes we forget to think about, when we are just focusing on what meditation to follow instead of how to set ourselves up successfully to meditate.
It’s like baking cookies. The recipe is key for baking a yummy batch of cookies, but you also need the proper space (which is hopefully your kitchen), the right time, the right equipment, and the right ingredients to make it work.
So set yourself up for success today, because you deserve it!
1 – Be Committed
Ask yourself honestly why you want to get started with meditation. I get it, if you are starting out, you are not sure if you want to be fully committed to this practice or not. It’s like any new relationships. We want to dip our toes in to get a feel of the temperature of the water before diving right in head to toe. What if the water is too cold? Or too deep?
The first step to commitment is the hardest, so be gentle to yourself and be realistic at the same time. Maybe instead of committing to daily meditation, start with a weekly meditation practice first. Best is if you can stick to the same weekday every week, for example every Sunday morning or whenever that works for you.
Or if you want to do it daily, start with committing 1 to 3 minutes a day. Meditation does not need to take long. Quality is always more important than quantity. It’s better to do it for 1 minute than nothing.
And the truth is, if you have 1 minute to scroll through your social media feed, you will have 1 minute to meditate.
It may be fun also to do it as a challenge. Perhaps even invite a friend to do a 10-day or 21-day meditation challenge together. Whatever works for you that does not cause extra stress. Just a tiny bit of pressure to let you stick to the practice and see the results for yourself.
2 – Schedule Your Meditation Regularly
Once you are committed to getting started, put it in your schedule. If we don’t schedule things, the chance of happening goes down significantly.
There are regular activities that we do on a daily basis that we don’t even put it in the schedule, like brushing your teeth and taking a shower. But usually we do them relatively the same time every day or in the same order.
The best way to start a daily meditation practice is to slot it into your daily routine, and tag it along with something that you already do every day.
For example, for me the best time to meditate is after I finish preparing and eating breakfast with my son, and when he goes off to play with his grandpa. I have about 1 to 1.5 hour golden time just for myself, and I use it to do yoga, my healing practice, meditate, and journal.
Of course there are days when this routine gets knocked out of the window. When that happens, I just do a 1-minute meditation.
3 – Find the Right Location
In my previous blog “Get Started with Your First Superpower – Meditation”, I already mentioned about setting up your space for meditation by using your five senses. You can refer to this tip in my blog here.
Besides engaging your five senses to let your brain know it’s time to meditate, it is important to find the right location at your own home. Same as everything else you do at your home, there is a right place for every task or activity. You brush your teeth in the bathroom, you cook in your kitchen, and you sleep in your bedroom (hopefully).
The same should go for your meditation. I would recommend finding a physical space at your home which feels like a sanctuary for you, and where you won’t be disturbed by other people. The bedroom is ideal though this will depend on your home situation. I do my meditation on the floor in my bedroom, and I close the door so people know not to disturb me during this time unless it’s an emergency.
Use the same space for meditation at the same time every day to help build your meditation practice into your daily routine.
Porch.com also shares some useful tips on creating your ultimate meditation room for your home in its blog article, such as finding three sacred objects that can ground you in your space. You can find the blog article: https://porch.com/advice/the-ultimate-meditation-room
4 – Minimize Distractions
In the above tip I talk about a space in your home that you won’t be disturbed by other people. If you share your home with others, make sure to close the door if possible or put up a “Do-not-disturb” sign.
What about other distractions? The biggest distraction is probably our phones. You may want to use your phone to play music or to follow an online guided meditation.
Depending on the features of your phone, you should be able to turn your phone onto “do-not-disturb” mode if you still need online access, or switch it to airplane mode completely if you already have the music downloaded.
Sometimes there are distractions in the environment that we cannot control. Maybe there is construction noise outside. Maybe your neighbor or your children are being very loud. In this case I recommend using headphones to help you concentrate.
It will be impossible to have zero noise around us. Even nature is noisy with insects buzzing and birds chirping. And that is totally okay. In fact, embrace and accept these noises into your meditation practice, the same way like we embrace our thoughts. Thoughts come and go. Distractions come and go. Noises come and go. Accept what we cannot control, and always gently bring our attention and awareness back to the present moment.
5 – Posture and Position Matter
One thing that has been difficult for me in meditation is when I need to sit on the ground and have nothing to support my back. I find it difficult to concentrate after a while as my back starts to hurt and my legs go numb.
To me comfort is very important in meditation, especially when you are just starting out.
I was so over the moon when I found out that I could actually meditate lying down. It’s definitely one of my preferred ways to meditate, but I find that sometimes I fall asleep in this position.
In my meditation classes when I’m leading shorter meditations, I always go with sitting on a chair.
When you sit on a chair, make sure both of your feet are planted firmly on the ground. Do not sit with legs crossed, as this will interrupt your energy flow. Sit up straight and roll your shoulders back and relax your body. You can lean your back on the chair, if you are still sitting relatively upright. It’s important to keep your spine upright so the energy can better circulate and flow around your body.
Let your hands rest on your thighs with palms facing down if you want to feel grounded, or palms facing up if you want to receive and be open to guidance.
If you choose to sit on the ground with your legs crossed, check how comfortable you are. You can always put a cushion and a yoga mat underneath. My trick is to find a wall where I can lean my back onto while sitting upright.
For some meditations, you can choose to stand. Keep your feet at hip distance apart. Stand up tall and roll your shoulders back. Relax your arms by your side.
I like lying down for longer type of meditations, such as Shamanic journeys or soul journeys. If you don’t want to fall asleep, then the timing of these meditations is important. Do it at a time of the day when you are most awake or least likely to fall asleep.
I’ll say if you choose to lie down for the meditation, then most likely it should be a meditation that you don’t mind falling asleep to. If you did fall asleep then it’s no big deal. Or if you are using meditation to help you fall asleep then this setup will be perfect.
6 – Bonus Tip: Keep Your Phone Away Until You Finish Meditation
Do not start checking your phone for messages, texts, emails or social media until you finish your meditation. If you do, you are simply adding more distractions to your mind. Once you start getting involved with the outside world, our mind wants to respond and engage, so we may keep on thinking what email reply we should write, or the news during the meditation instead of turning our gaze inward and listening to our inner world.
If you need to use your phone for music or an online guided meditation, and are tempted to check your messages, switch your phone to “do-not-disturb” mode or “airplane” mode the night before when you go to bed. That way, when you wake up in the morning and switch on your phone, you won’t be bombarded with lots of notifications.
Meditation is like brushing our teeth. The benefits take time to see. It’s okay if we miss brushing our teeth once or twice. In fact, maybe if we don’t brush our teeth for one week, nothing drastic will happen on the surface. But when we forget to brush our teeth regularly, bacteria build up and we may end up with tooth decay.
To reap all the amazing benefits of meditation, it does take time and commitment to establish a regular practice.
We all take really good care of our physical body and personal hygiene. See meditation as a way to take good care of your other bodies, which are your emotional, mental and spiritual bodies.
No matter how much we can read about the benefits of meditation, there is no use if we do not take action. Following what famous brain coach Jim Kwik says, “Knowledge is not power. Knowledge and action is power.”
If you want to get started on meditation, then start with the first tip of this blog – make a commitment. Energy flows where intention goes. Once you have the intention, the Universe will conspire to help you out in every single way possible to make it work. You just need to be there to make it happen.
I look forward to hearing about your journey of meditation and what role meditation plays in your life at the moment.