We all know by now how great meditation is for us. And with practicing meditation, some is better than none at all, but you can’t just do it every once in a while and expect it to really change your life.
When you do practice meditation regularly, it is absolutely transformational. Perspective shifting, life changing stuff. But for many of us, getting to that place of regular practice can seem like SUCH A STRUGGLE.
For years, I struggled with having a consistent practice. I would be on a good roll for a while and would even start to feel the awesome benefits and my life changing, but then something would seem to throw me off track. It just kept getting pushed onto my to-do list.
Then several years ago I decided to make meditation a priority in my life.
That’s Step #1.
You have to make a decision that meditation is a priority in your life.
Once you’ve made that decision you’ve gotten past the hardest part. Woohoo! Now, you just need some tools that will help you follow through with your decision.
I’ve got you! 🙋
I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 tips that have helped me to be successful. Here are the most important things that I do to have a continued, daily meditation practice:
1. Keep it simple
You do NOT need to sit in a lotus position on the floor and recite difficult-to-pronounce mantras for 30 or 45 minutes. I mean, unless that’s your jam then by all means keep it up! But it doesn’t have to be anything complicated.
Find a guided meditation that you like and bookmark it. Do a simple meditation on watching and following your breath. Download one of the many meditation apps out there. Choose a word or phrase that you really like and silently repeat it over and over in your mind (examples – I am present in this moment, I feel calm and peaceful, I am grounded and balanced).
Find a meditative song to listen to – here is an album on Spotify that I’m loving lately. Light a candle and focus all your attention on the flame.
Just find something that feels good for you right now, and practice it.
2. Keep it short
This is one of the BEST tips for success with daily meditation practice. Keep it just long enough so that it feels manageable in your life.
5 minutes is a good starting point. I mean, if you think you don’t have 5 minutes to sit by yourself once a day then something else might need to be looked at first. 👀
If 10 minutes feels reasonable and good, then try 10 minutes. If you want to sit for longer, that’s great too, but it’s not necessary.
And for those days where it seems like there is hardly even time to go to the bathroom, it’s ok – just sit for 1 or 2 minutes and keep the daily flow going.
3. Keep it at the same time every day
For me, this tip is crucial for success with a daily meditation practice. If your schedule/life allows for it, meditate at the same time every day. Many find that morning works best and I’ve found that to be true for me as well. Not only is it a great way to begin your day, also then it’s done and you don’t have to worry about it!
Whatever time you choose, the BEST time of day for meditation is the time that you are actually going to do it. But it really helps to create the habit if you can do it at the same time every day.
4. Keep it in your calendar
Do you conveniently seem to forget the healthy things that you intend to do? Well then put that sh*t in your calendar! Or just set a reminder so that you can’t forget it. It’s really about treating it as a priority in the day, just as you would for any other important event or appointment.
5. Create a trigger
If you’ve done any reading or research about habits, you might be familiar with triggers (also referred to as cues).
Triggers are essentially an event that kicks off an automatic urge to do some habit. An example is the event of waking up in the morning triggers my habit of drinking coffee. I don’t have to think about it, I just automatically go to the kitchen to make coffee when I get out of bed.
There are different ways to create a trigger, but some examples are time, location/environment, or preceding event. I use a preceding event every day as my meditation trigger. Every morning I write in my journal, and afterwards I meditate. What’s amazing to me after years of struggle is that today most days I just automatically meditate. As soon as I close my journal I automatically go to my meditation spot and begin, just like clockwork. Just like that. 🌟
6. Keep a tracker
One of the best tools I use to stay on track with all of my healthy habits is to use a habit tracker. I mean it’s been a GAME CHANGER.
And we track everything today –our steps, our workouts, our food, our sleep – all of these things help us to meet certain goals, and with meditation it’s no different. Checking off the meditation box each day makes me feel awesome and keeps me motivated to continue.
I personally keep a handwritten monthly habit tracker to track all sorts of things that I want to do on the daily, those of you who keep a bullet journal know exactly what I’m talking about. There are habit tracking apps you can use, or give yourself a gold star in your calendar.
Seeing your progress (or lack of it!) is super motivating, and it’s fun to look back and watch your progress over time. It also keeps you honest. And it’s great for those of us who don’t have the best memory. I’d like to think that I’ve meditating every day for the past 365 days, but when I look at my habit tracker I can see that the reality is JUUUUUST a little less inflated. 😂
7. Be nice to yourself
OK so this one is really important, but for many of us is really difficult. Many of us have a really judgey, demanding inner dialogue which can make meditation challenging. We are perfectionists and when it feels like we aren’t doing it right we get frustrated and that leads to negative self talk.
Sometimes with meditation it feels like we aren’t doing it right. But practicing IS doing it right.
We sit and try to settle into the meditation, and when thoughts come up we judge them, and then ourselves for getting caught up in them. Thoughts like “ugh I can’t do this,” or “stop thinking!” or any negative, judgy kind of thought is not helpful.
If we can find an attitude of friendliness towards ourselves it can help us get past this. If this seems difficult, just think of how you would treat a friend, and then turn that attitude onto yourself. 🤗
8. Create a challenge
One of the best ways to get into a new habit is to create a challenge for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a 30-day challenge, start small. Start with a 3 or 5-day challenge.
Make a commitment that for the next 5 days, you are going to meditate. Put it in your calendar, set reminders, and go!
Things seem easier to us when we piece them into smaller bites. And then once you get past day 5, start again with another 5-day challenge and keep them going until you are in the flow and the habit is set.
9. Get a buddy
Accountability partners are the best! And a super powerful tool in helping you stick to your commitments. Choose a friend, someone who you trust and will hold you accountable, and tell them about your goal. Be specific and set up check in times and then go for it.
And just because your goal is meditation doesn’t mean that your partner needs to have the same goal. He/she may be working on something else – it doesn’t matter – the most important thing is that you help each other stick to your goals.
10. Make it fun
This is a really important aspect that isn’t talked about much, especially when it comes to meditation. But if we create a fun ritual it REALLY helps with a daily meditation practice. Here are some easy ways to make meditation fun:
- 🍵 Make your favorite cup of tea before you sit down
- 🕯 Light a candle
- 👃🏽 Diffuse your favorite essential oil
- ☁️ Sit with a comfy pillow and blanket
- 📖 Start out by reading a paragraph of a favorite spiritual or motivational book.
- 🛋 Sit in your favorite chair
Keep it simple. It just needs to be something that will add an element of comfort and contentment to your meditation routine. If you set a nice scene for yourself you’ll look forward to this every day. Make it YOURS.