By Audrey Tan
With all that’s going on in the world right now, sitting in silence even just for a couple of minutes, can be challenging without the mind wandering off on a tangent. But it is during these busy, troubling times we should be taking care of our mental health even more.
With the practice of meditation, we can learn to control how the mind processes and reacts to the information it receives, making us better equipped to deal with the unpredictability and uncertainties of life.
Want to start taking control of the millions of thoughts whizzing through your mind? Here are some simple and totally doable ways to get you started meditating and sticking with it, from one noisy mind to another!
Breathing in meditation goes beyond just simply inhaling and exhaling. It is more about focusing on how the body reacts with every breath you take. At any time of day, it is good to take purposeful, deep breaths at comfortable paces and notice how the chest puffs up or how the body relaxes when you breathe out.
This “mindful breathing” can be a stepping stone to understanding how breathing and meditation go hand-in-hand.
Make Meditation A Daily Habit
Like brushing your teeth or making your usual cup of coffee or tea in the morning, meditation can become a daily habit. Gradually incorporate meditation into your daily routine by associating it with something you already do so that you will never forget to do it.
For instance, if you’re someone who enjoys using sheet masks, use the 10 to 15 minutes waiting time for a quick meditation session since you already have your eyes closed and can’t do much during the time anyway. If you’re still reluctant for a full session, simply do those breathing exercises I mentioned and slowly increase the time you’re sitting in silence. Soon you’ll have developed a new habit!
There’s An App For That!
Now that you’ve learned how to breathe steadily and intentionally, you’re technically already meditating. As a beginner, you can probably get more out of your meditation sessions if you have something or someone leading you through the session, such as a teacher or an app.
There are plenty of apps to choose from, such as Headspace, Calm, or Insight Timer. Some offer sessions that range from beginner-friendly breathing exercises to relaxation sessions that can help you fall asleep. Take time to discover a guide and practice that resonates with you so that you can feel calm and motivated to do it every single day.
Get Your Timing Right
Meditation is all about intention, so you have to make it work for you. YOU decide on a routine, YOU choose which app to use, YOU pick a time and place, and then just sit and practice. It is worth remembering to avoid checking the news or social media before you get into a zone of meditation. These may be too stimulating, which will affect your concentration.
This is why most people meditate when they get up in the morning before reaching for their phones or the TV. But if you find that nighttime meditations work better for you, go ahead and stick to it! It’s about what works for YOU!
Set Realistic Goals And Monitor Your Progress
To really make meditation a habit, there needs to be a goal and consistency. This can be something simple at the beginning, like “sit in silence for 5 minutes daily for 30 days”. Realistic and achievable goals such as this can help you to keep going, and before you know it, you’ve been meditating for a month!
If you have an app like Headspace, it can help you track your meditation days.
Be Kind To Yourself
We all have those days where everything just seems to go against your plans. The boiler may be broken, or the car won’t start, causing you to skip a day. Of course, you should still try to dedicate some time in the day to meditate; it will help relieve the stress.
But if you can’t, don’t beat yourself up. Pick it up again the next day. It is essential to have some positivity in your meditation journey. Cut yourself some slack and just focus on the end goal. Whatever happens in between are just speed bumps, as long as you get there!
As with any skill, mastering the art of meditation comes with time and effort. If you’re reading this article, you already know the benefits you can unlock with meditation. You want to put an end to all the wandering thoughts that seem to have a mind of their own and have better control of your mental health. With this in mind, it should be easier to develop meditation as a habit. Remember, make it work for YOU, don’t be too hard on yourself, and practice, practice, practice!