This is the second post in the Meditation Matters series. Check back next week for the third and final installment! By now you've probably figured out that I'm a huge proponent of meditation. Last week, I discussed some common myths and misconceptions around the practice of meditation with the hope of making it a bit more accessible to some. This week, I'm sharing my best tips for how to make the most of your meditation - and how to make it work for you. 1. Use a timer.
Knowing that you’ll be told exactly when to release your meditation helps you stop thinking about the time and become fully present. (Nothing’s less conducive to meditation than an internal dialogue of “Has it been ten minutes yet? It feels like ten minutes. I should maybe peek at the clock and see…no, four minutes, okay, still six to go…”) Set the timer and let it do the counting down for you.
2. Experiment with different kinds of meditation.
There's no one "right" way to meditate, and knowing this gives you the freedom to figure out what works best for you as an individual. Try meditating to instrumental music one day, then use a guided meditation the next (the Insight Timer app has a huge variety of free guided meditations). You can also try nature sounds, or even plain old silence. (If you're interested in going more in-depth about various types and methods for meditation, I'm teaching a class through Edana Healing & Empowerment on April 10th, 2019 - click here to learn more about it!)
3. Wear comfortable clothing.
It’s hard to focus on the present moment when your waistband is digging painfully into your hips. Of course, we can’t always accommodate this, especially if we’re taking a meditation break in the middle of a busy workday, but it’s something to think about if you plan to meditate at home or in another controlled environment.
4. Sit on a cushion.
When sitting cross-legged on the floor, it can help to slip a cushion under your buttocks, leaving your knees resting on the ground. This forms a triangle between your right knee, your left knee, and your rear end, turning your body into a tripod, and may provide a greater feeling of stability. This position also tilts your hips forward, which can help prevent you from slouching during meditation.
5. Use tools to help you focus.
If you're finding it almost impossible to keep your mind on the present moment, try choosing a focal point. Crystals work well for this; hold one in your hand and try to center your thoughts around it. This will give your mind something to anchor to. Watching the flickering flame of a candle can be helpful as well - it gives your eyes a job, which can help keep your mind still for longer periods of time.
6. Stretch first.
Doing a few simple stretches or yoga poses prior to a period of meditation can help ground you by getting your blood flowing and helping you feel more “in” your body.
7. Leave the judgment at the door.
As we’ve already mentioned, the point of meditation isn’t to block out all thoughts - it’s to refocus your mind on the present when you find it wandering. Make a promise to yourself that you will not resort to anger or judgment when your mind strays, as it inevitably will. Except this to happen, and know that it’s part of the work.
8. Don’t wait for the “perfect” moment.
Life is messy. And as nice as it would be to set aside a time and a place for meditation in which no outside distractions will occur, it’s simply not realistic. While it’s definitely easier to meditate when our environment is calm, quiet, and peaceful, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can only practice meditation when everything is just so. On the contrary: trying to be mindful even in situations that are loud, chaotic, or stressful is difficult, but it’s a great challenge to add to your routine. The more you practice under circumstances that are less than ideal, the more readily the mindfulness tools you learn will be available to you when you’re under duress and likely need them the most.
If you enjoyed this subject matter, check out more in the Meditation Matters series: