If you’ve been thinking about starting a meditation habit, one of the best practices you can do to help you succeed is to start a meditation routine that you establish and stick with for a set period of time.
Your routine doesn’t have to be everyday, but it does have to be consistent. I do recommend that beginners start by taking a 30 day challenge, during which they meditate every single day, if only for a few minutes at a time.
Here are a few other tips you can implement in order to ensure you have success with your new meditation practice.
Create Your Space
Firstly, it’s important that you create an inviting space in your home to meditate. Maybe you have an extra room you could dedicate to meditation, or maybe you simply use your living room couch or bedroom floor.
It doesn’t matter where the space is. What’s important is that you have one specific area that you use, every time you sit to meditate. It’s even better if you use that space only for meditation.
This will help create an association in your brain that this is your safe space to go within. If you can’t dedicate a specific area, at least use some constant detail that you can take with you from practice to practice. For example, you could use a meditation cushion on top of a yoga mat, and use that combination to prepare your mind to relax, even before you begin to meditate.
Decide on a Time
The next tip for creating a meditation habit is to decide on a specific time of day. Ultimately, you want your meditation to become part of your daily routine, which means consistency.
There is no single best time to meditate. It’s about finding the time that is best for you. Whether you take a few minutes as soon as you get up, after lunch, or right before bedtime, try to establish a fixed time that you can stick with, every day.
Habits form when you can create a trigger that automatically leads you into an action. If you wake up every morning and have to decide if you’re going to meditate, you are more likely to give up the habit before you gain the benefits from it.
If, instead, you always meditate immediately after you brush your teeth, or right before you have your coffee, the consistency will help move you into a repeatable, sustainable cycle.
Another important part of starting a meditation routine is to make sure you remove any and all distractions. Get into the habit of turning off your phone for a few minutes, and putting the dog in a different room.
When you sit to meditate, allow that to be the only thing you do. Having a set time also helps contribute to this point, since you will begin to understand that this is your quiet time. There is no need to think about your tasks for the next day or what you could have done better yesterday.
Tell yourself that your only aim, in this moment, is to relax and breathe.
Set Realistic Goals
These first 3 tips go a long way towards helping you to set a routine, but the next challenge is to actually maintain that routine long enough so that it becomes a habit.
One of the biggest obstacles to this for many people has to do with the goals they set for themselves.
You are more likely to succeed if you begin slowly, and gradually increase your goals. Starting out with a goal to meditate for an hour every afternoon, for example, may be unrealistic. By trying to go ‘all-in’ you risk not even getting started.
Setting realistic goals involves creating a set amount of time that is actually possible for you to commit to, given everything else in your schedule.
It also means you set yourself up with the right expectations. Don’t think that you’re going to meditate for a week and solve all of your problems, or relieve a decade of anxiety. Begin simply, with simple breath techniques, and allow whatever experience comes to you to come.
It really is that simple.
The 30 Day Challenge
As I mentioned above, I encourage all new meditation students to begin with a 30 day challenge.
Neuroscience tells us that it takes a minimum of 21 days to cement any new habit, so an initial goal of one month is a good rule of thumb in order to really jumpstart your practice.
During this month, you commit to meditating every day, at the same time and place, for the same amount of time each day.
If you miss a day, start over the next, but try to have a consistent 30 days in which you focus on this goal every day.