I will be the first to admit that keeping to a regular meditation practice is challenging. Sitting still for a few minutes a day is the last I want to do when I have to rush to feed the toddler and get him to school on top of finishing my own work.
But meditation, when done regularly, has immense benefits. With daily meditation, not only do I sleep better and eat healthier, but I am also generally happier and calmer. While it may be a challenge to find some time to meditate each day, it is certainly not impossible! Here are a few things that you can do to complement your daily meditation, that will not only help you keep your practice regular, but also enhance it!
Consistent Yoga Practice
When I first discovered meditation, I realized just how difficult it was for me. There was no quieting my monkey mind. It is stubborn, ever moving and never still. Try as I might, I couldn’t find peace in meditation. This frustrated me to no end. A friend then suggested I tried yoga first. So I did, I went to yoga daily, incorporating Hatha and Vinyasa into my practice.
Bit by bit, my monkey mind calmed down. Yoga incorporates breathing into movement. Being able to concentrate on my breath drew my focus away from the business that is my mind. Being present as I moved from pose to pose also helped me be still and aware. Focused. Present. All this helped my meditation practice. Because when you take away the poses, all that’s left is breath and presence – which is what meditation is all about. A consistent yoga practice has helped me be consistent in my meditation practice. I also found it easier to sit still after completing a yoga class than before.
Dedicated Meditation Space
As a mom of a toddler, you will have to come to terms with the fact that your house is always in a mess. Toys are strewn over the carpet, and coloring pencils lying all over the floor. Walking around the house is like walking in a minefield. You will never really know when you might step on a stray piece of Lego. While I have come to accept, and even love the house in its state of colorful mess, I find it next to impossible to be at peace amidst toy cars and green blocks.
Meditation is a much more pleasant experience when you are in a dedicated space that exudes calmness and silence. To complement my practice, I dedicated a little space in my home just for meditation. Here, in my small corner, I place candles and diffuse essential oils. For that bit more inspiration, I keep meditation books in this space. Aside from it just being my meditation space, it has also become a space where I come just to sit for a while when life becomes a little bit too hectic.
As humans, we all need something to focus on. Simply saying to focus on the presents seems a little bit abstract to most of us. What would we think about then? What does it mean now? For me, I found focusing on breathing to be a great start to my meditation practice. Taking a few minutes to concentrate on proper breathing techniques before you start meditating is a really great way to calm down and relax.
There are many breathing techniques that you can utilize in your meditation practice. My favorite is the Nadi Sodhana or “Alternate Nostril Breathing”. If you normally practice meditation early in the morning, practice Nadi Sodhana just before meditation is beneficial as it energizes you, clears your Nadis and makes you feel more awake. Nadi Sodhana unifies the right and left sides of the brain, bringing balance and calm to the practitioner. To practice Nadi Sodhana, close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through the left. In the end, retain your breath as you close your left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through your right.
Firm and Quiet Mantras
When I first heard of mantras, I thought to myself, really? How is repeating something over and over again help with meditation? But, like focusing on your breath or focusing on your yoga pose, mantras give your mind something to focus on while keeping still. It gives the monkey mind something to do instead of plowing through idle thoughts that seem to multiply the longer you sit still.
Sure, spiritual mantras are meant to transform you but if you’re not comfortable with uttering spiritual mantras that have roots in religion, there are other more modern versions. A good one “mantra” is the words of Norman Vincent Peale, “I change my thoughts, I change my world,” just because that is basically what meditation will make you realize. A yogi favorite is the resounding Ohm, which represents all creation.
Let’s face it, living in the golden age of technology means nothing escapes it, not even meditation. With perhaps the exception of Vipassana meditation, all meditation techniques can be found, simplified and guided through the use of the various meditation apps available. These apps are great especially when you’re on a long commute to and from work or just when you need a change of scenery to your normal meditation practice.
A great app to start with is Headspace as it’s simple to use with plenty of free meditation resources that you can access directly from your phone. Another great complement to your meditation practice is meditation music, and you can find many soothing sounds on the Internet!
Elaine is a contributing writer for BookDetoxRetreats.com. She is also an avid yogi and a rookie meditator. Meditation has given her some calm amidst a chaotic household with a boisterous toddler.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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