5 Tips for Making Time for Daily Meditation Practice
By Ben Gaibel, LCSW
One of the biggest challenges in meditation practice is just doing it on a regular basis. We often have ourselves scheduled so thin, it feels like an impossible task to make time for meditation practice in our busy lives. However, making time for a daily meditation practice is attainable and may be one of the most important things we can do for ourselves, as well as for the people around us. Research is showing more and more that a daily meditation practice can reduce anxiety and depression, and increase well-being and compassion for others. An individual’s meditation practice not only nourishes the one practicing; the benefits extend to those with whom the individual shares his or her life. Training our mind and heart can be seen as important as getting enough sleep, nutrition, and exercise. It can be viewed as an absolute necessity not to be missed, just like showering and brushing one’s teeth regularly. Here are five suggestions for establishing a daily practice:
- Meditate every day, no matter what, even for just a couple of minutes. Consistency and frequency is more important than duration. Years ago, I made the mistake of believing it was only worth it for me to meditate if I could get a 30 minute session in. Well, it was easy to find an excuse to be too busy to meditate for 30 minutes, so then I would not meditate at all. Before I knew it, my daily meditation practice was gone. The all or nothing approach can disrupt one’s daily momentum. I have learned that even if I can only get 5 minutes in, it is far better than nothing. If you still get a very short session in, you are not only getting benefit, but it also keeps your practice alive. There is a good chance that when you do short sessions, you will still see benefits (such as a more balanced mind). It would be great to aim for 15 minutes or more as your practice builds, but any amount of time is good, even it is just for one breath!
- If your schedule allows it, pick the same time of day every day to practice, so it becomes part of your routine. Examples of routine times include first thing in the morning after waking up, during lunch break, as soon as one gets home from work, or right before bed. A common question people ask is, “What time is best to meditate?” My answer is: The best time to meditate is a time that you will most likely be able to do it.
- Find a quiet spot where you will not be interrupted. Perhaps even setting the space up to have a nice calming atmosphere can add to the motivation of practice. Some find it helpful to set up an alter with items such as inspirational photos, pictures, flowers, stones, etc.
- At the beginning and end of each meditation, reflect on what your intention is. It can be useful to remind yourself what is important to you. Why are you practicing? What draws you to meditate? What is your heart’s aspiration? At the end of each meditation, you might find it meaningful to dedicate the merit of your practice to your own well-being and for the well-being of others.
- Find a meditation group, or a meditation buddy. Meditation practice is challenging to do on one’s own with no support. Meditating with a group once a week, or once a month can help sustain energy for daily practice through the collective energy and inspiration of others. Having a meditation buddy, someone who you can discuss your meditation practice with on a regular basis, can also be valuable motivation. You can hold each other accountable, and support one another in keeping up with the practice.
The tips above are just some of the many ways we can maintain a thriving meditation practice. For information on how to meditate, check out Tara Brach’s website for both free information and guided meditations: http://www.tarabrach.com/new-to-meditation.html