How to start a meditation/mindful practice that works for you: tips & tools
"First we make our habits and then our habits make us" (John Dryden)
We live in an era with crazy speed and immense pressure, not to mention the amount of information that comes our way daily. Our minds constantly buzzing, "loading something", having "multiple tabs open" - no wonder why sometimes we simply crash - just like a computer that has too many activities running at the same time. Our brains are not wired in such a way that we can receive that amount of input/data and also that kind of constant stress. And we care about our brain and also our wellbeing, right?
One way of avoiding these crashes and minimizing moments of extreme confusion, full of despair and the sense of constant tiredness, is to incorporate meditation or some form or shape of mindful practice into our daily routines. Yeah yeah, I know - still, another area of life to add to your "to-do list", a new land to explore filled with data and your list was already too long, to begin with. Just read and "sleep on" the benefits and some quick tips and tools on how to start a meditation practice that works for you.
The benefits are incredible and the Return on Investment (in this case the time you invest and the life benefits you get) should not be ignored and properly budgeted into our time. Below, I summarised for you some (just naming a few, of course):
Non-reactivity: You learn to respond, not react - and in the end, you get to behave more wisely not blindly
Increased focus: You get to learn how to pay better attention, remain focused throughout the day, and become more aware of your surroundings (people, feelings, tasks, moments, etc)
Stress management: You learn to relax and let go of things that bother you and have put a strain on your mind & body
Overall mindful living: You will get to live with greater ease, walking through life in a more present and mindful way (impacting also the lives of those around you - especially your loved ones)
Here summarised some quick steps to start a meditation practice that works for you that I have gathered during my journey with "making more space in my mind" and therefore my life:
Keep it simple: you don't need to start directly with a fancy cushion, a good song, and a zen place. Pretty much anything will work: a nice comfortable place where you can enjoy some silence is enough. A lot of info out there about meditation and mindfulness makes them seem more complicated than they are.
Make it meaningful: You do need a purpose - focus on one of the many benefits of meditation and build up from there - Your WHY. By simply asking yourself what you wish to achieve by meditating or being mindful, you will identify the source of getting it to work for you.
Just breath: Such a handy tool. Focusing on your breath and not taking it for granted will do the trick - slowly, but surely. This automatic process in our body holds more wisdom than we will probably ever do.
As a bonus, some of my favorite apps to explore - most of them have a free trial, even some ongoing free meditation, but if you fall in love with one then the option to pay will be a good investment as well:
Bonus: Yoga with Adriene Meditations - fully free and forever lovely.
I still have some to test and enjoy and I might come back with an updated version of this post.
Another source of good info for the practice of mindfulness is Simona, an exceptional MBSR Trainer, Psychologist, and Cognitive Psychotherapist. Read her here.
I invite you to look at meditation/mindfulness practices as tools to transform into something habitual so they can transform you in return.
Please note that this article is not made to clear the distinctions between meditation vs mindfulness practices but just to emphasize how important both of them are in creating a more aware way of being and living. Here is an article that clarifies the distinction in a simple manner. Otherwise, just keep in mind that that befriending your mind is a habit that will transform your existence.
Take it one day at a time. One practice at a time.