How to get your meditation practice off the ground
HOW TO GET YOUR MEDITATION PRACTICE OFF THE GROUND
by Ryan Nell
In preparation for our recent inaugural 2-hour mindfulness workshop at the amazing new Yoga House Catford, their founder Kasia asked us to write something for their studio newsletter.
As Kasia put it:
We know that regular meditation practice is a wonderful way of keeping the mind free and body healthy, but we also know that it's not always easy to get it going. We have asked Ryan Nell the founder of Levitate Meditation to give us a few tips on how to start and keep the mediation practice consistent.
So here goes…
Meditation is a marathon, not a sprint. At Levitate we know that the biggest benefits of meditation come from consistency. The science is compelling... Meditation has the power to change the structure and function of your brain (and body) for the better. It can even reverse or slow the hallmark features of ageing. Many of these benefits are trait-like changes brought about by long term practice. However, as a society addicted to quick results, meditation can seem painfully slow, downright abstract, and substantially less gratifying than any number of short term fixes. So how do we keep going when the going gets tough?
1) KEEP IT SHORT!
One thing is guaranteed to ensure that you are on the road to becoming an ex-meditator... running before you can walk. By making meditation onerous, we guarantee that our best laid intentions don't stick. A routine of just one minute a day of mindful breathing, is far better than a short-lived formal practice of 30 minutes twice a day for the first week, followed by inevitable skipped days, missed weeks, and soon meditation silently joining the long list of things -- like juicing, journalling, and breadmaking -- that you've tried and dropped.
2) SET INTENTIONS!
Parents know that often the best way to get a child to eat their food, is to reframe it as something they WANT to do. We need to approach meditation in the same way. Think about what you want from the practice. What will keep you coming back? Peace of mind, reduced anxiety, clearer focus, greater resilience, balance and compassion... these are all things that can come from a regular practice, but you need to decide which are important to you. Reminding yourself of this each time you practice, and looking out for signs of these benefits when you are off the mat and out in the world, will keep you doing it even when you're not in the mood.
3) ENJOY THE PROCESS!
When you are getting started, and the benefits feel far off, it can feel like "present you" is getting a raw deal, so do remember to enjoy the process too! Approach your practice lightly. Give yourself the occasional day off and drop the judgement about it. Keep it interesting. Make it fun. Bored of watching your breath? Try a compassion meditation, a chocolate meditation, a mantra meditation, or a walking meditation... The variety will keep it fresh, and satisfy your need for learning and interest. An enjoyable practice will be one that you look forward to.