If you’ve never tried meditation (or if you’ve thrown in the towel), you may wonder how some people stick it out with their mindfulness practice.
Here’s a secret: You don’t need laser-like focus, spiritual superpowers or knowledge of ancient traditions to meditate. You just need a little privacy and the desire to fully disconnect from external demands—even for a few minutes a day—so you can reset to your own natural rhythms and awareness.
This process of detaching might feel strange for a while, so give yourself time and space to experience the energetic shift every day. Here are a few tips to help you settle into a meditation routine you’ll want to maintain.
- Set specific meditation goals
Everyone meditates for different reasons. Consider which of the following statements feel true for you, and add your own goals to the list. Each time you sit down to meditate, keep your personal meditation mission in mind.
I’d like to use meditation to:
- Feel more peaceful, energized or confident during my day
- Gain greater perspective, clarity or insight
- Release symptoms of emotional stress (depression, anxiety, grief, negativity, etc.)
- Manage physical symptoms or conditions, such as high blood pressure
- Attract new possibilities for career, health or relationships
- Reach a new level of consciousness or awareness
- Explore a variety of meditation styles
Meditation takes many forms, so you’ll want to experiment until you find a method that fits your specific wellness goals and your lifestyle.
In general, “receptive” meditation styles emphasize quieting the mind. “Active” meditation uses mantras, imagery or visualization to encourage to a state of heightened creativity. “Dynamic” meditation styles (walking meditation, Tai Chi, qi gong) blend gentle movement and deep relaxation.
Note which of the following fit your situation—then spend some time exploring methods that can help you settle into a natural routine.
- I have a hard time sitting still
Start with a dynamic meditation style that accents movement and breath work, such as a Tai Chi or yoga class. As you grow comfortable with calming your body and mind, test out a more receptive style, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
- I have trouble forgiving or letting go
“Loving-kindness” meditation uses focused thoughts of wellbeing directed toward yourself and others to nurture compassion while releasing negativity and stress.
- I feel stuck in a rut
Guided imagery meditation techniques activate your natural creative abilities. A favorite of athletes and artists, this style uses sensory information to help you imagine new possibilities for wellness and transformation.
- Strengthen your meditation muscles over time
Create a realistic meditation schedule that challenges you without being overwhelming. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes each day to start. Once you begin seeing the benefits your practice provides, you’ll very likely want to up the amount of time you spend in a state of calm, relaxation and creativity.
- Track your progress in a meditation journal
Documenting your mindfulness journey can deliver an extra dose of meditation motivation. On a day-to-day basis, make note of what you’re doing to move toward your long-term wellness goals. Include time spent in meditation, as well as any changes in your physical or emotional state.
Be sure to jot down any interesting images, sensations, or impressions that arise while you’re focused on your awareness.