As a yoga instructor, I am often asked about suggestions for incorporating meditation for stress relief into an already overloaded daily schedule. Meditation and time for personal reflection are just as important to overall health as physical exercise. Physical exercise and meditation also just happen to have something in common; they both bring up a lot of excuses.
The first step to beginning a meditation practice may just be challenging those excuses for not meditating.
"I don't have time.”
There are so many distractions and filled calendars vying for our attention. It's no surprise that finding time for stress relief, personal reflection, and mindful awareness can be difficult. Yet even starting with 5 minutes a day is enough to begin a new practice. Can you spare 5 minutes?
"My mind is too busy."
Yes, so is mine. That’s why meditation is so important. Our minds are in a continuous (often non-productive) state of worry, chatter, and stress all day long. We tend to think about the same problems throughout our day. If we are satisfied with one problem, our minds automatically begin to search for the next one. A busy mind does not make for a “bad" meditator. A busy mind can be re-trained to allow for the space for creativity and solutions to be born.
"I can't sit still.”
Yep. I have trouble with this one too. The best times to meditate are upon waking and right before bed. These are the times when the body is naturally more rested and relaxed. Training the mind and body not to fidget or move, will increase your ability to be more present and aware in all of your daily activities and interactions.
Setting an Intention
Before beginning any new practice, it’s important to figure out why you want to meditate in the first place. If your biggest reason for starting a practice is meditation for stress relief, think about yourself a year, or six months, into your new meditation practice. What do you imagine your life might look like if you committed to this new practice? Set a strong intention as to why you want to meditate and make a commitment to yourself.
Setting Up Your Space
You want to make things as easy as possible for meditation to take root. It is recommended to find a comfortable spot with the least distractions. Pick a time for meditation and continue to meditate in this same spot at the same time each day. The repetition and familiarity will assist in creating a new habit. Setting an alarm for the desired amount of meditation time is also helpful. That way you can surrender to the meditation without worrying about being late, or missing an appointment. I like to place an extra blanket and a candle by my bedside for my meditation practice upon waking.
The above steps may be enough to get you started in planting the seeds for a sustainable meditation practice for the blooming health of your mind, body, and spirit.