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Research has shown that meditation can offer a broad range of health benefits such as regulating your mood, increasing memory capacity, increasing immunity, slowing the aging process, inhibiting age-related brain structure deterioration, and reducing chronic inflammation.
However, knowing that something is beneficial for you does not translate into doing it. The rift between knowledge and action can sometimes be too broad to cross. But, there are a few easy steps you can take to help create and sustain a healthy meditation practice.
1. Link Meditation to a Frequent Activity
Activities such as driving home from work, showering, or brushing your teeth, are deeply ingrained habits that don’t need effort or premeditation. They are referred to as instrumental tasks. When you link your meditation to one of these activities, the effort you need to commence the meditation session is significantly trimmed.
In the book Secrets of Meditation, the author provides acronyms RAW (right after work) and RPM (rise, pee, meditate) as pathways for linking meditation to habits. These acronyms can help eliminate the resistance most individuals face when creating a new habit. Associating your meditation session to a self-regulated activity that doesn’t need the exertion of willpower increases the chances of your new habit taking root.
2. Start Small
Although meditating daily is a worthy goal, you don’t need to jump right in at one hour or longer daily. When you start, you may not feel very calm or mindful. You might not even experience relaxation at all. But that is a good beginning. Just aim at taking six minutes to sit with your thoughts. Let your curiosity about your thoughts flow; however, don’t force it. You’ll feel the traction to sit and meditate in the long run.
If you don’t find yourself sitting up to 30 minutes in your daily meditations, don’t fret about it because meditating for even 10 or 15 minutes a day gives you immense benefits.
3. Schedule Your Meditation
Failure to schedule your meditation makes it easier for you to put other tasks and activities ahead of this crucial practice. Sometimes all you need is to see the word “meditation” noted on your calendar to get an incentive to come and sit for your meditation session.
Your schedules can be so tight that there is little time left for pursuits and activities of great importance in the current busy world. When you schedule meditation, you ensure nothing will obstruct your commitment to yourself. If you can, schedule your meditation practice at the same time every day. Your mind and body will finally begin to relax when that time approaches.
4. Get Comfortable
This is crucial. Your mind cannot be calm and clear if your body is uncomfortable. Try different postures until you find what works for you. Try sitting tall with your legs crossed and let your palms rest on your knees. You can also lay in svanasana, flat on your back while stretching out your legs with your palms facing up. You can also recline against something strong if it offers you great comfort.
5. Create a Space for Meditation
Set apart a little corner of your room to use only for your meditation practice. Place your preferred meditation seat, such as blankets, bolsters, or any props to help support yourself in this area. Then add to this space inspirational items such as sacred books, photos, a diffuser, soft lighting, candles, or anything that touches your soul. Use this area only for meditation. It will suck in vibrations of calmness, and in the long run, just entering this sacred space will trigger the relaxation response.
6. Set a Timer
You need to have a timer because this is the best way to know if the time you have allocated for your meditation practice has elapsed. Continually disrupting your meditation sessions to check the time is not conducive to a productive and peaceful session. Employing even a cheap kitchen timer will enable you to eliminate all concerns about time and keep you focused on your meditation.
Some individuals find the sound of a kitchen timer unpleasant or jarring. Others with hearing impairment may be unable to hear a small digital timer. Meditators in these categories should consider investing in a specialized meditation timer that produces a gentle gong sound. Although smartphones have applications you can program with pleasant sounds, it is recommended not to bring the distraction of such devices into your meditation area. However, as you grow in your meditation practice, you’ll discover that you develop an inner clock that informs you when to end your meditation session.
Although meditation is a practice that comes with many benefits, you need to let go of any apprehensions, expectations, and fears. Nothing is going to take over or possess your mind. In mindfulness meditation, you allow your mind to relax into its natural state, which is very calm and peaceful.