Planning to start meditation? Here are some tips on establishing your practice. Consider these things….
When will you meditate?
What time of day will you meditate? 6 am? 6pm? If you don’t have any idea of when you will meditate, you are unlikely to get around to it at all. It is just a nice idea instead of a factor in your day. Decide on a time and do it every day at that time. If you find that the time you have chosen doesn’t work, modify it – but find the time that you will remember that “now it’s time to meditate” – just as easily as you remember to have lunch, clean your teeth, have a shower, put the dinner on… Meditation is best established when it becomes a natural part of all the things you do daily.
For how long will you meditate?
At Blackburn Meditation and Mindfulness, beginners are required to meditate for 20 minutes a day. In our view, periods like 10 minutes, or power meditations of one minute, do not establish any real stillness in life.
Of course you can choose 30 minutes, or an hour – so long as you complete the period you have set yourself to meditate. This teaches the mind some discipline in your practice – it is not something to do only as the mind likes it, but rather a commitment to stillness, and if there is not stillness, to observe the mind rather than indulging the mind.
Where will you meditate?
Oh… somewhere.. maybe my bedroom… maybe the lounge room….??
Is that how it is? Establishing a practice works a lot better if there is a space and a time for it. If your bedroom is going to be the space, make it a corner with a cushion or chair, and keep it clear. It will be your meditation corner.
What about weekends and holidays?
It is easy enough to establish a daily meditation practice if you plan it ahead and make allowance for it. But what about the times where you can’t plan? For instance, if you have visitors staying, or if weekends are quite different from the rest of the week? That is when you have to consider the next thing:
Tell people that you meditate
If you tell people that you meditate, especially if you can say when, and make it obvious that it is a serious commitment, they are more likely to acknowledge that it is just like any other appointment that they won’t interfere with.
After all, no one expects you not to go to your dental appointment if they happen to turn up for coffee at that time. But it is you who has to make it clear that you are not available at that particular time every day.
Another benefit of telling people is that it is very motivating – if you tell people and then don’t do it, you will feel like a complete git!
How will you know when to finish?
Set an alarm… and don’t get up until it rings.
What about if I can’t meditate for as long as 20 minutes? Can I start with 5 minutes and work up?
No – set your timer and stay there till it goes off. It is a mistake to suppose that you should only meditate as long as you feel like it. How can you ever become aware of the mind’s processes if it is always in charge, even of being still?
If meditation feels good for part of the time and the rest is fidgeting, the meditation win is to observe the mind wanting to escape.
To establish yourself in a meditation practice, it is better to have a
- specific time
- specific place
- to sit as long as the intended time
- to plan for contingencies
- and to let others know that your meditation time is not available for other things
Meditation is Practice and Practice is Meditation