Daily meditation is one of the best habits that you can take up.
For busy entrepreneurs with never-ending to-do lists, carving out some time to just sit and breathe can seem like a waste of time, but the benefits of meditation are numerous. It helps you to relax, reduces stress, boosts the immune system, and generally makes you happier with your life (and who doesn’t want that?).
Meditation can be a challenge for beginners. These tips helped me, and I would recommend them to anyone interested in meditating:
- Reflect on why you want to meditate. This is important because starting a new habit will take time and willpower. If you understand your motivation for doing this work (and it is work), then it will make it easier for you to make it a priority and carve out the time to do it.
- Choose the best time for you to meditate. For many people, myself included, it’s easier to meditate in morning before the craziness of the day carries us away and leaves us tired at the end of the night. When you’re just getting started, try to meditate in the morning.
- Find a place that is quiet. Eventually, you can meditate even in areas that are noisy (as we do at the East Bay Meditation Center in downtown Oakland, where the sounds of traffic, sirens, and outside conversations filter in to the meditation hall), but as you’re getting started, it’s helpful to find a place where you can sit quietly.
- Be prepared for noise. Even though you may try to find a quiet place, it won’t always be quiet. Car horns may honk. The neighbors might get noisy. The dog might bark. Accept that this will happen and just notice the noise when it does but don’t let it stop your meditation.
- Get comfortable. You can choose to either sit or stand, or to sit in a straight-backed chair or cross-legged. The important thing is to get into a position that is comfortable for you.
- Drink water. Being thirsty can be a distraction when you’re trying to meditate. If you’re thirsty just as you’re sitting down to meditate, it’s better to take a minute to get a glass of water first.
- Prepare yourself mentally. You’ll be surprised at how hard it can be to just sit still with your thoughts. Be prepared to accept whatever comes up during your meditation session instead of expecting it to be perfect.
- Decide how long you want to meditate for. A reasonable amount of time for someone just getting started is to sit for 5 minutes. It may not sound like a long time, but at the beginning it can be hard to just sit still for a short period of time. Stick to 5 minutes of meditation until you’re comfortable with it, and then you can gradually extend your meditation time. Set a timer to go off at the end of the 5 minutes.
- Pay attention. There are many types of meditation, but the practice that I do is vipassana meditation (also known as insight meditation). With vipassana meditation, you pay attention to what is happening in your mind and in your body. Focus on your breath, notice what comes up in your mind, and observe what happens in your body (e.g., tingles, sensations, pain, etc.)
- Commit to it as a regular practice. Starting a daily meditation practice can be a challenge. To get the benefits of meditation, it’s not enough to just do it for a while and then stop. Instead, it should be part of an ongoing practice.
- Accept whatever happens. You might be surprised at what comes up during your practice. Your mind will wander. You might get frustrated. You might worry. You might remember the past or plan for the future. You might wonder if you’re doing it right. All of these things are normal. Just notice them, accept them, and go back to focusing on your breath.
- Just do it! As with anything else, you just need to sit down and do it. Take action and commit to it. You won’t regret it.
Begin with #1, and reflect upon why you want to meditate. If you can identify your motivation, it will make it much easier to implement all of the other steps! Then, just give it a try. Decide to try it either today or tomorrow. If you wait any longer than that, the odds will decrease that you’ll try it.
Remember that you can modify the steps above as you establish your practice. For example, your reasons for meditating might change, the place where you meditate might change, the length of time that you meditate might change, or even the type of meditation that you do might change. That’s fine! The important thing is to establish the practice. In the long run, it’s one of the best things that you’ll be able to do for yourself.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Have you found any of these tips to be particularly helpful for you? What would you add to this list?