How to set up a regular meditation practice

Posted by on Jan 7, 2014 in Buddhism | No Comments
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Happy new year!

I’m guessing many of you have decided to meditate regularly as one of your new year resolutions. So figured I’d give you a helping hand by sharing a few tips to setting up a regular meditation practice.

If you’re looking for something more in depth, sign up for my meditation first-to-know list. I’ll soon be sharing news of my downloadable course that will give you everything you need to set up and maintain a solid meditation practice.

But for now, here are my top tips to get you up and running.

1. Pick a regular time and stick to it

It’s tough to start a new habit.

Picking a time to sit, and then sitting no matter how convenient is the number one way to kick start your practice. Commit to this one thing and you’re halfway there.

Many people like to sit first thing in the morning. It’s still quiet, your mind hasn’t started on the million things you have to do today (maybe) and it’s a great way to set up the rest of your day.

But if that doesn’t work for you, it’s fine to pick any time. Just make sure you stick to it.

2. Seat of the pants to the seat of the cushion

Sometimes you may not feel like it. Sometimes you might think it will be a waste of time because you’re so mashed or tired or stressed. Sometimes you may have such a strong aversion to sitting it literally hurts to sit down.

Sit anyway.

The goal isn’t to have an amazing meditation session. The goal is to sit down. If you do that, your session is a success.

It doesn’t matter what state of mind you’re in and whether or not you feel like it. Just sit down at your allotted time. I guarantee you’ll feel better at the end of your session than you did at the start.

3. Create a meditation space in your home

Dedicate a corner of a room, or even a room in your house, to meditation.

Put something inspiring there that reminds you of what you’re trying to achieve. Buddhists often put a Buddha figure on a shrine and add some flowers, candles and incense. But it can be anything – whatever means something to you.

Leave your cushions or chair in place if you have the room. This will remind you that meditation is part of your life now.

You’ll probably find this approach in itself helps your mind settle more quickly when it’s meditation time. We’re like Pavlov’s dogs. Might as well use that to your advantage!

4. Spend some time finding the right posture

Being comfortable while you meditate is important. Sure there’ll be times when your legs fall asleep or you can’t quite find the right position. Often this is a trick of the mind that doesn’t want to meditate right now and you can push through it. But sometimes it’s a genuine problem with your posture.

Hunt YouTube for videos to show you the principles if you’re not sure. And take some time to experiment with sitting on a chair, or cushion height, or whether to sit lotus style or kneel or whatever.

The key thing is you want to be balanced and as relaxed as possible without falling over or falling asleep. This means your butt and your knees or feet need to provide a tripod-style stable base. Then you need to find the angle where your base supports your back and that supports your skull with minimum muscle usage to keep it all still.

5. Keep it short

You don’t need to meditate for hours a day to get the benefits. Meditating for just 15 or 20 minutes a day will have a profound effect on your life. And keeping it short means you’re more likely to actually do it.

6. If you fall off the wagon, get back on it quick!

We are all human. Sometimes you’ll miss a day. Don’t turn this into a big deal. Just start again.

It’s like when you’re counting the breaths in meditation and you get distracted and lose count. You don’t beat yourself up. You just start again at 1.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s also a fun run. And a gentle stroll in the park. Enjoy it, take your time, and KEEP GOING!

Meditation will become part of the fabric of your life before you know it. And unlike brushing your teeth or washing the dishes, meditation is fun!

Enjoy it, and remember to sign up for my meditation list if you’d like more help with the nuts and bolts of how to actually meditate, how to work in meditation, and how to develop a rounded, effective practice.

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Did you know The Meditator's Handbook is out? It has everything you need to set up and maintain an effective meditation practice. Check it out!

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