So how can you successfully get into the habit of meditating? It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the information online and questions like:
Q: Should I sit shirtless on snow breathing hard like that guy on YouTube?
Q: Or maybe what app should I use? Is Headspace better than Calm?
In this article, I will explain the 3 steps to properly build a mediation habit for beginners.
The 3 steps are:
1. Deciding When and where to mediate
2. How long you should mediate
3. What techniques to use
Step 1: When and where
Just like building any habit, we must first specify when and where to perform that habit. A habit must first be established, before it can be improved. I recommend meditating just after waking up as part of your morning routine, sitting in a comfortable chair or sitting - not lying - in your bed.
Why? Because It is easiest to enter a deep relaxed state just after waking up, and definitely before you check you e-mail.
Also, it is less distractions and you start you day in a proactive and focused mode - carrying in to the day. The second best time is at night, before going to bed. The third best time is at noon after lunch.
Step 2: How long
So how long should you mediate? You may have heard that between 10 or 20 minutes is optimal. But for a complete beginner, doing 20 minutes of actual meditation is like trying to run marathon without any practise.
You will give up after 1 minute and never come back. You first need to start with something easy and increase in tiny amounts. For example:
- Day 1: Do 60 seconds
- Day 2: Do 70 seconds
- Day 3: Etc.
(Or whatever amount that is completely doable for you at your stage).
If you want, keep a habit tracker either on paper or in your mediation app of choice to know that you are gradually progressing. Luckily, only a few minutes of meditation will significantly improve your mental alertness and reduce the feeling of fatigue.
Step 3: Techniques
Finally, what is the best tactics and techniques of mediation? The short answer: they all work, for its purpose. But for the purpose of this article, I am going to keep it high level.
3.1 Meditation vs mindfulness
At its core, meditation is simply when you intentionally set aside time to do something good for yourself, like being concentrated on clearing your mind.
Mindfulness is the state of being aware and tuned into what is going on in and around you in the now. And that can be accomplished through a was range of techniques. But let's continue to keep it high level, and only cover a guided vs unguided mediation.
3.2 Guided vs unguided mediation
For beginners, a guided mediation is usually very helpful. It constantly reminds you to redirect your focus to the present, for example your breath or the feeling of your body - instead of the e-mail you might have been thinking about if you tried an unguided mediation without prior experience.
Personally, I now mainly use unguided mediations set to 10 - 20 minutes, with a timer that just lets me know when 10 or 20 minutes have passed.
I sometimes add background sounds, guided mediations and sometimes do more breath work - to spice it up and reap the benefits various styles can give - as long as I do the overarching habit of setting aside time to mediate and be mindful each day.
So I hope that literally clears you mind. To summarize, you should:
- Step 1: When and where Ideally, incorporate it into your morning routine. Deciding in advance when and where to meditate is key to building a habit.
- Step 2: Duration If you are new to meditation, simply start with 1 - 3 minutes, and then gradually progress each day.
- Step 3: Methods Try following a guided meditation if you struggle to keep focused on your breath or any other present sensations.
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