Making Meditation Work
Meditation is highly recommended by medical experts and psychological experts alike. The benefits range widely, including reduced anxiety, increased job performance, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and increased happiness. However, many find meditation to be a difficult habit to pick up. It runs very counter to the usual pace of the rest of modern life, where most of us are focused on speed and rarely spend extended periods without distraction or stimulation.
If you're struggling to make meditation work for you, try these tips to make it a lifelong habit.
1. Use white noise
Even when inside of your own home, silence can be hard to come by. The sounds of construction, traffic, or your family running around the house can be powerfully distracting when trying to quiet your mind. Using white noise can help drown out some of the ambient noises of busy life and help you concentrate. The sound can even help focus your mind, giving you a point on which to center your mind to allow your mind to clear off other thoughts. This can be especially helpful for beginning meditators, as it's a step easier than simply focusing on nothing. If you struggle to find the standard static of white noise to be your focal point, using an instrumental or natural sounding white noise can provide a slight but more stimulation while still allowing you to focus on your meditative state.
2. Start small
When picking up meditation for the first time, it's easy to bite off more than you can chew. Meditating for a full hour in complete silence might be more challenging than you'd think, and once you start struggling, it's easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated, resulting in you losing your motivation and falling off the wagon. Rather than demanding such high expectations of yourself, start with baby steps to get your meditative practice off the ground. Start with simply expecting a few minutes per day, somewhere between 3-5 minutes. That may seem like a small amount of time, but much like physical exercise, you have to start with exercising your mind in small doses before you're ready to ramp up any higher. Once those few minutes feel easy enough, add on time in small increments. Soon you'll be mastering those full hour-long sessions - just give it time!
3. Get comfortable
Many have the mental image of meditation of sitting cross-legged in the center of a bare wooden floor. While this may work well for some, that's far from the only way to meditate! Being uncomfortable is only going to make it harder to relax and concentrate on your meditation. Find somewhere comfortable to sit, whether that be your desk chair, a cushion on the floor, your bed, or your couch, and dress in comfortable clothing. Sit in a comfortable position where your body and head are supported and comfortable, with posture that's upright but not rigid. The more relaxed your body is, the more relaxed your mind can become, so rather than focusing on the aesthetic of "meditating correctly," focus instead on taking care of your body so you can take care of your mind.