Everyone wants to make resolutions for the new year, and often, meditation is one of those resolutions. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if not handled properly, you can set yourself up for failure.
If a consistent meditation practice is your goal this year, let’s talk about how you can make that happen – without feeling frustrated, giving up or forgetting.
Set a reminder
The first step to a consistent meditation practice is setting a reminder to ensure you don’t forget. Almost all meditation apps offer the option of being reminded at a time of your choosing. Of course, these apps will remind you daily, so if you’re looking to meditate every other day or once a week, it might not work for you.
You can also simply set a reminder in your phone.
If you’re trying to get away from electronics and using a paper planner or a wall calendar, you can write in your meditation practice.
It doesn’t really matter how you set the reminder as long as you have something to remind you – at least until it becomes a habit.
Decide what you want to get from meditation
Are you doing it for spiritual reasons? Stress relief? A few minutes of quiet solitude? Lower blood pressure?
The reason you choose can be whatever you want it to be, but it needs to be something that matters to you. This reason, or goal, is one of the things that will keep you motivated.
This reason will also help you determine what type of meditation might be best for you. If you’re looking for stress relief, for example, a guided meditation that encourages you to envision yourself on a tropical beach might be ideal.
Have more than one reason for meditating? Start with focusing on one. When you feel you’ve achieved it, or at least made progress, then you can work on the next.
Start slow and small
Whether you’re a total beginner who’s never meditated before, or you’ve tried and it just didn’t stick, start slow and small.
Start with just one minute. Then move up to two, three, and five minutes. Build up to 10 minutes, and then keep building from there. Spend at least a couple of days at each length so you can gradually adjust.
Take your time and ease into it. You’ll find it’s much easier to start with one minute and add another than to try to sit there for an hour right off the bat.
Set a timer
When you’re busy, you can go from June to December in the blink of an eye and wonder where the hell the time went. But when you’re sitting still and silent for 60 seconds, it can feel like hours. And you’ll want to crack an eye open to check the time – every two seconds.
So whether you’re meditating for a minute or 10 minutes, set a timer. This will allow you to stop worrying so much about how much time has passed because you’ll know that the timer will go off and let you know when you’re done.
As you begin to enjoy a consistent meditation practice and see the benefits, you’ll find that you don’t think about how long you’ve been sitting there. But there will still be days when meditation doesn’t go as well as you’d like, and you’ll be wondering again – so set that timer.
Don’t set yourself up for failure
Let’s be clear: meditation is easy, and it has a lot of benefits. Despite that, it doesn’t always go perfectly smoothly. You’ll get distracted. You’ll be unable to ignore your thoughts. You won’t be able to sit still. You won’t feel like doing it.
All these things are perfectly okay. If you struggle, it doesn’t mean that you should give up on meditating. If you become a master meditator and then suddenly struggle again, it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure.
Don’t set up any unreasonable expectations of yourself or your meditation practice. Some days you won’t feel the benefits. Some days you won’t meditate at all. You might even go a week, two weeks, or even a month without meditating.
Accept that this can happen and simply get back to your practice.
Give yourself some accountability
If you know you’re the type that needs someone else to hold you accountable, then give yourself that.
Ask a friend to meditate with you. Hire a meditation teacher. Find a local meditation class that meets at a convenient time for you. Give yourself the accountability you need so you can keep moving forward.
Even as you do this, realize that this accountability only extends to ensuring that you actually show up for the meditation. It does not guarantee you specific results. Even a meditation teacher cannot promise that you will feel any specific benefits – only that they can help you try.
You have to do the work yourself. You have to be willing to sit in stillness and silence and be willing to go beneath the surface of your mind.
Meditation can do many things. The list of benefits is lengthy. But none of these benefits are achieved with a single session that’s never repeated.
Many of the benefits of meditation can begin to be felt after a single, short session. But they really come about through the consistent meditation practice – usually daily. The benefits build through the repeated practice of meditation.
This means you can’t expect to meditate once and find that everything is wonderful. You may feel better. You may feel incredible. But it’s through continued practice that you’ll begin to see lasting change that gives you a strong foundation.
Ready to try meditation?
The start of a new year is a great time to give meditation a try. Use the tips here to set yourself up for a consistent meditation practice that will be easy to stick with and provide the benefits you’re looking for while being realistic and simple.
Don’t hesitate to use an app, hire a meditation teacher, or attend a local class to get started, either. It doesn’t matter how you begin, just that you do.