I know daily meditation is good for me and that I should do it. There is plenty of research clearly demonstrating all the benefits of meditating.
Reasons for daily meditation are many
- Enhanced melatonin levels and improved quality of sleep
- Reduces chronic insomnia
- Reduces the intensity of pain
- Changes the brain and may reduce the impact of ageing
- Alleviate symptoms of diseases triggered by stress
And the list goes on. I know that daily meditation has a positive impact on health and happiness.
So why is it so hard to commit to a daily practice and actually make it happen? Why resist? Perhaps that is another form of procrastination and avoidance. Pondering all the reasons that a daily meditation practice is so hard further delayed and weakened my commitment. Finally, it was a matter of steeling myself and getting on with the first session, and the next.
There are lots of ‘shoulds’ with meditation and I struggled with doing it the right way. Apparently you should meditate sitting with a straight back, early in the morning, with an empty stomach and a silent mind.
Be gentle with yourself. It is your practice and you will find what works for you. Want to listen to a 10-minute guided meditation with your child before sleep? Great idea. Find yourself with 15 minutes in the morning after the breakfast rush? Take a break and refresh your mind with a breathing meditation.
Three things that got me started
- A tick chart
I know. Who has a tick chart at 50? I now have one for daily meditation, journaling and exercise and it has worked for me.
As I was having trouble getting started, I went back to the old fashioned tick chart (wobbly lines, pen and paper). I like being able to tick off my practices each day, and after a month I am contemplating moving my tick chart because I have run out of space. I’m not ready to give it up and it has been an important part of my progress.
- Insight timer app
I started meditating with meditation teacher Adrian Cooke, 10 minute meditations, last year but didn’t have a daily practice. I enjoyed the simplicity of the podcasts and the small amount of time – I could usually find 10 minutes.
Recently I found Insight Timer and I haven’t looked back. I love this app. There are so many different meditation types that I find myself tinkering with new approaches and looking forward to the next session. At the moment I start with Binaural beats and then proceed to a guided meditation to round off.
- Being kind to myself
There didn’t seem to be a time of day where meditation was going to fit. With travel, family, work and just general life, there didn’t seem to be a time that would fit in the pattern of each day. It was another barrier.
Now I meditate when the moment presents itself, regardless of the time of day. So long as I can tick off that chart, I am happy. Sometimes I meditate lying down, sometimes sitting up. Sometimes I meditate in the morning, maybe just before bed.
I am going to try walking meditations, chanting meditations, mantra meditations and silent meditations. Yoga and prayer can be part of a daily meditation practice.
Daily meditation is a practice, so be gentle with yourself. It isn’t easy to get started and probably won’t be easy to sustain.
The Insight Timer community is another feel-good part of meditating. At times 2,000 other people are using the app to meditate at the same time as me and it feels good to be part of the community reaching for a more peaceful world. Each time I practice meditating is another part of the practice leading me to my best self.
Lazar, S., et al. (2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. NeuroReport. 16(17): 1893–1897.
McGreevey, S. Mind-body Genomics. (2013, May 1). Retrieved from https://hms.harvard.edu/news/genetics/mind-body-genomics-5-1-13
Ong, J.C., et al. (2014). A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for chronic insomnia. Sleep. 37(9): 1553-63. DOI: 10.5665/sleep.4010
Zeidan, F., et al. (2011). Brain Mechanisms Supporting the Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness Meditation. Journal of Neuroscience. 31(14): 5540-5548. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5791-10.2011