Mastery is doing something you want to do, even when you don’t want to do it — Sean Stephenson
Meditation was one of those elusive things that never really appealed to me. Yeah, I knew I should do it. Yeah, I knew it was really great for me in all these ways. But it did not interest me in the slightest. I would make myself meditate–usually in a post yoga, asana-stoned fit of inspiration–and sometimes it would go “well,” where I would feel like it was a successful way to spend 15 minutes. And sometimes it would go “badly,” where I just could not turn my mind off as hard as I tried to just focus on my breathing.
Then, years into my asana practice, a little glimmer appeared: I want to meditate, a voice said. Not now, but soon. I would sit every so often. Then I began to enjoy it sometimes. Then I made the decision: I want to cultivate a meditation practice.
It hasn’t been easy. I go through periods where I’m busy and can’t seem to still my mind and I just have so many other better things to do than sit on this cushion right now is this even doing anything anyway?
Yes. It is so worth it. My daily meditation practice has created such a shift in my life. And here are the things that have helped me stick with it.
Be patient with yourself when you’re allowing your own meditation practice to evolve. There’s no point in forcing it if you’re not ready. If you need to add this article to your Pinterest along with the rest of your meditation articles, then by all means, it will be waiting for you when you’re ready. Like all good things, this will come to your organically.
Just do it
Set an intention to create and nourish your meditation practice. If it’s calling to you now–which is why you’ve found yourself reading this article–take it as a sign that you’re ready. Congratulations–step one completed!
Choose a time to meditate, then stick to it
The best time to meditate is in the morning. The second best time to meditate is any other time.
Pick a time that works with your schedule, and do it at that time every day.
Right now, I have an easy time practicing in the morning: my feet hit the floor and I automatically go over to my meditation corner, start my timer and sit. I’m not awake enough to convince myself to skip today or check my email first or have breakfast. It’s automatic. Plus, when you wake up, your mind hasn’t had time to formulate to-do lists and get racing with chatter.
However, at the beginning of my practice, I would prefer to meditate before bed, especially after a long summer night of serving when I was so keyed up from slinging drinks into the wee hours of the morning. It would help me quiet down and get to sleep.
Whether it’s right when you wake up (as a part of becoming a Morning Person) or as a part of your bedtime ritual, the most important thing is that your choose a time and hold yourself accountable to it. Treat it as an appointment with your Inner Guide. Don’t blow off the Divine.
Create a Sacred Space
A landmark event in my own practice was getting my zafu, a little pillow that supports my sit bones and makes sitting so much more comfortable. It’s amazing what a little height under your hips can do for your comfort! This zafu takes center stage in my meditation corner, where I also keep my yoga mat. My oracle decks are usually nearby in case I’m called to use them if I’m feeling particularly connected after a sesh. (Imagine me, stumbling out of bed, spotting my tarot deck through heavily-lidded eyes, and snagging them before collapsing onto my meditation pouf. This happens, folks.)
Create a space that you want to be in. If you have the room, make an altar with pictures, little statues or gemstones that are important to you. Light incense to set the stage if that calls to you. Keep a blanket nearby if your space tends to get a little chilly; wrap it around yourself and snug in. Meditating is a chance to come back to yourself, to come back home, so make that home cozy as hell.
The Virgo in my loves charts, graphs and statistics. Enter Insight Timer, an app I use to help me time my sessions and keep track of when I meditate and for how long. It’s nothing too fancy: a set a timer, a sweet little bell rings, and then another one when the time is up. BUT I earn milestones, and creating a level bar graph is enough to make me want to take time to meditate because I just don’t want to break the pattern.
There are tons of meditation apps to explore, from relatively no-frills timers like the one I use to apps that will send push notifications to your phone reminding you it’s time to sit down and get quiet. Find the one that works for you. Or stick to a trust clock.
There is no one right way to do this. Meditation is simply bringing your focus to one thing: an intention, your body, your breath, whatever. There are a million ways to meditate, so don’t feel stuck if a particular method doesn’t work for you. Try guided meditation, a chakra exercise or yoga nidra.
Be flexible with yourself and know that just because one method works (or doesn’t work) today, doesn’t mean it won’t tomorrow. Keep an open mind and switch it up often: this keep things interesting and makes your practice fun and playful–because who says meditation has to be serious all the time? And who knows what sorts of magic you’ll manifest as you play with energy!
What methods have helped you cultivate and stick to your meditation practice? Please share in the comments!