World Meditation Day: How to get into meditation and make it a daily habit

It’s World Meditation Day – so what better time is there to begin making a habit out of the discipline that mental health experts constantly promote the benefits of?

Meditation has been attributed to improving mental health and general wellbeing, and the NHS recommend mindfulness achieved through meditation as just one method for this too.

But learning to meditate can be hard: it’s possible to get distracted or feel bored or be unsure of where to start, as there are plenty of different types, some of which are guided and themed.

It can be a tricky habit to sustain over time too, but it’s possible to commit and find peace through it – anyone it works for will have a different way to maintain the practice.

Katherine, a marketing director, began meditating more frequently after she scheduled it into her digital calendar, as if it were a meeting.

‘As a busy professional the only way I could stick to meditation is to diarise it. I have to make sure I give myself a specific time each day to sit down to meditate.

‘It was so difficult at first as “something always came up” but after a couple of weeks I looked forward to it when I got the 10 minute before reminder. It’s now a part of my everyday life.’

Kirsty Raynor, a York-based meditation teacher, says now is as good a time as any to try meditation given the state of the nation.

Doctors have warned of a growing ‘mental health pandemic’ and how overly stretched NHS resources are – long before the pandemic, it was widely known that waiting lists for mental health support could be up to a year, if not longer, in some parts of the UK.

Understanding how hard it can be to ‘get into’ meditation, she shares with her three key starting tips.

With meditation, we have no expectation

Expectations can put pressure on how meditation is supposed to look and feel, but often it’s an ever-changing thing.

Kirsty says: ‘”Every day feels completely different” – I start each meditation that I lead with that exact phrasing.

‘Release your expectation and let’s see what happens today. No two meditations will ever be the same – that is why it is called a practice. Embrace the change and different feelings everyday.’

Take out the concept of time

You might think you need to meditate for a long chunk of the day in order to feel the benefits, but that will then make it easy to delay or put off making space to start as other things come up.

‘Rather than say “I need to meditate for 10 minutes today”, just sit down and say “I am grateful for my meditation practice today”.

‘Even if you end up doing one minute of practice, you have achieved something great for yourself,’ Kirsty says.

As you build up the practice, you might find yourself naturally spending more time on it.

Get very comfortable

There’s no point beginning if you know your setup isn’t comfortable to practice in. There isn’t a right or wrong way to sit, even if you’re following a video that instructs a certain position.

Kirsty says it’s important to listen to your body and to position yourself however you like, even if it’s not conventional.

‘If you have physical impairments in your hips or knees, sitting crossed legged on the floor is going to cause you nothing but discomfort.

‘Allow your body to be soft, and just relax with an exhale. The breath can guide you into a gentle flow and if you feel yourself come back out of the meditation, don’t panic, just use the inhale to guide you again.’

If you don’t know where to begin, there are three meditations can you try almost anywhere – be it on your lunch break or even on the morning commute.

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