The hardest part of developing any habit is taking the very first step. After you begin, the repetition becomes easier and easier. Then, before you know it, you have a habit, and the activity in question becomes almost an automatic go-to. This is true of any habit — including getting yourself into a meditation routine.
Whether you’ve never meditated before, or you have a few times but are having a hard time getting into it regularly, the approach is the same. All you need is a plan, and the willingness to execute that plan. The following is a simple guide to get you started.
Do your research
If you have never meditated before, it’s worth it to do some research on what it’s all about. Doing online research, checking out books on the practice and philosophy of different meditation styles, and talking to friends who meditate are all great ways to start. There are many different styles of meditation, and while they intersect, they do have their distinct properties. Doing your research will ensure that you’ll find the meditation style that works best for you.
Even if you have meditated in the past, it still makes sense to learn more. Doing more research on the history and practice of your chosen meditation style can give you a lot of insight, and get you more motivated to meditate.
Consider guided meditation
For me, it is sometimes helpful to learn things in a group setting. I used to attend meditation sessions on a pretty regular basis, and I use the fundamentals that I learned there every time I meditate at home. A good meditation guide can coach you through actively relaxing your body, regulating your breath, and increasing your awareness of yourself in the present moment.
Attending a guided meditation session can also help you to choose a style or tradition that really works for you. Many types of sessions are free or donation based, and do not require you to be a member of any organization to attend meditation sessions. To find these sessions, all you need to do is call and ask.
To get you started on choosing the type of guided meditation that may work best for you, check out this guide.
Make a meditation space
Creating a special meditation space for yourself can really help to motivate you to spend more time in it. Choose a quiet part of your home, somewhere that you feel relaxed and can sit comfortably. Consider a meditation rug or pillow — yoga mats also work great for meditation. Decorate your space however you feel; choose adornments that inspire you.
A few classic ideas include a fountain, a rock garden, plants, and statues. You could get a bonsai tree or two for some mindful pruning in between meditation sessions. You could plant colorful flowers, or set up some potted bamboo shoots. You could paint your meditation space in your favorite colors. Most importantly, make it your own.
Schedule your meditation time
If you want to have time to meditate but have a busy schedule, you’re just going to have to schedule your meditation time. Treat it as you would any important appointment, and pencil it into your day. Only schedule meditation sessions that your schedule can handle; it’s better to stick to a realistic schedule than get too optimistic and not make it to your scheduled sessions.
To start, go with half an hour every other day. If this works for you, try half an hour each day. Adjust from there based on your personal needs and schedule availabilities.
Pay attention to your needs
Your body and mind will tell you when you need to meditate… all you have to do is listen. Stick to your regularly-scheduled sessions, but be mindful of other times where it may benefit you to meditate, as well. Pay special attention to your breathing rate and your stress level. If they’re amped up, a meditation session may be just what the doctor ordered.
Make it a routine
All you have to do is stick to your schedule. When you first start meditating, you may feel your mind wandering, and you may wonder if this is really doing you any good. However, don’t give up! Each time you meditate, your mind will be more easily able to focus on the present, you’ll feel less restless, and you’ll enter deeper states of awareness and relaxation. It takes practice, but it’s so worth it.
How did you get yourself into the habit of meditation?
— Meditation Daily