Taking on a regular meditation practice is a life-long journey to self-discovery, it brings a calmer clarity into your mind and its thought patterns.
When you feel like you are losing control, if you feel trapped by the rollercoaster of life, meditation can help develop focus and alleviate unnecessary stresses of the mind. Sometimes thoughts take on a chatter of their own that can be overwhelming and sometimes even dangerous to your family, relationships and health. Meditation is a way to observe and to let go of your thoughts to help maintain stability, clarity and peacefulness of mind.
Meditation can be described as an exercise for your brain. Your brain is an office full of information. Filing cabinets,folders and paperwork are scattered around. Your thoughts are those files waiting to be filed into their proper cabinets and meditation is an efficient way to quickly clean and maintain the brain office.
When you sit and meditate, observe your thoughts as they come up. As you clean your office, you need to read each paper to file them away properly. But you don’t need to read every single thought-page in great detail, you just need to skim the title and put the file in its proper cabinet.
Rather than following along with the talk in your head, you’re skimming over the thoughts to file them away when they arenot needed for the present moment. In meditation you learn to let go of each thought as it passes, keeping focused on the clarity in between.
As you return to your brain office day after day for meditation, you will experience more clarity and functionality in your workplace. Your files of thoughts seem to become categorized, alphabetized, and then even some files get thrown out because you no longer need them anymore! Meditation is as important as cleaning your teeth every day, keep up with it and understand that it is about cleaning your mind too so that it can function at a more efficient level for experiencing and processing information.
Here are some great tips to help motivate you to get your meditation practice down to an easy, manageable practice.
1. Set up personal reminders.
This doesn’t mean just setting an alarm on your phone, it means opening up time in your schedule for the journey of meditation. Mark a meditation practice into your calendar, put post-its on your fridge, above your bed, your desk, maybe even a little bracelet to snap on your wrist for whenever you try to make an excuse to why you are not going to meditate today – do whatever you can to be present and excited to establish stillness for your mind.
2. Find daily inspiration.
Subscribe to an e-newsletter that resonates with you, a magazine, YouTube channel or podcast that updates frequently and inspires you to meditate regularly. Buy books on meditation and leave them around your home or office space. There are plenty of resources available that can inspire you to bring the feeling of meditation into your day.
3. Start a meditation journal.
Clear your mental space over what meditation means to you by writing it down. Be passionate about the practice. Journaling is a great way to establish a relationship with your meditation practice, to track your growth, and to reflect on its importance within your life.
On the first page, put down your reasons for starting this practice. You want to really embody the importance and feeling of meditation within you. Read your goals out loud to presence yourself to your ambitions.
Now, every time you meditate, write down your experience. Even if you did not meditate when planned, write down why you could not find the time that day. Note the moments where you felt like your mind wandered and the feelings you felt when you brought yourself back to the point of focus. Writing develops a relationship with your practice, evidence of what is and what is not working for you. If a meditation journal does not work, try a recording device you can speak to about your experience!
4. Presence yourself to the moment.
“Life happens when you’re busy making plans” is a quote by John Lennon that I love to embody. Life seems to take on so many responsibilities we can be continuously stuck in our heads planning the next item on our life list - so much so that we are not present to the beauty of life all around us. A great way to bring meditation into your life is to practice clearing mental space during the ‘in-betweens’ of your day.
There are many tasks we can accomplish on autopilot such as cleaning, standing in line, walking or seated travel. These are moments during the day when we usually “zone out” and get lost in thought. Instead, capitalize on this time for practicing meditation.
Don’t let this be your only source of meditation for your day as the action of sitting and meditating with intention is experiencing meditation in full, but to presence yourself to your thought patterns throughout the day can draw you closer to your meditation cushion.
5. Make a sacred space.
Set up the meditation experience within your home or workplace by tuning into the feeling of meditation through the senses. When first starting a meditation practice, you will notice discomforts and anxieties coming through. Either your leg falls asleep, your back aches, there are external noises or stressful thoughts arise that barrage your mind from focusing on the meditation. These are triggers to remove you from your practice. If seated in a safe space that offers comforts such as soft smelling incense, a lit candle, soft music, or an inspirational image in front of you it can motivate you to keep with the practice, orienting you towards the peacefulness you are seeking.
6. Find out which style of meditation works for you.
There are many different forms of meditation to discover when on your meditation journey. You can focus on a candle, a word or an inspirational photo or symbol in front of you and within your mind. You can chant or hum, focus on your heartbeat or breathe. Some practice yoga, whirling or dance wildly before sitting in meditation. You can meditate with eyes open or closed, in the morning or the evening. There are walking and seated meditations, all with an intention to quiet the mind. Some of the practices out there can be pretty strange but all with a purpose to develop clarity in awareness and peace of mind. Do some research and try them out!
7. Gain a foundation and seek guidance.
Find a group, a class or a workshop that is offered so that you can experience meditation with an expert. A Buddhist Lama, a Zen master, a yoga teacher or meditation group leader can help guide you through your experience. Classes, groups and workshops are a way to meet others who can motivate you, answer any questions or share in any experiences on your journey. Developing this type of practical experience is important because you are pushed to meditate for longer periods of time while under supervision. Seeking a ‘guru’ or ‘guide’ to your meditation practice can help establish a foundation of knowledge with experience, so that you can eventually sit for longer periods of time by yourself.
Remember, meditation is a practice; it takes time to learn and increase your potential for mental clarity. Take this personal time to let go of the banter inside your head, freeing up space for complete stillness. After some time, a shift will take place where you will find it quite comfortable to sit in the experience. You will be able to find that delicate quiet space for peace. We might never stop thinking, but at least we know there is a way to organically and naturally gain a relaxed state of mind.
Image via: @bmarie7931