Expert Advice

Five Ways To Enhance Your Meditation Practice

Meditation seems like it should be easy, but there is a lot more to it than just sitting with your eyes closed. Here, some pro tips on getting the most out of your practice.

With more and more people discovering the incredible benefits of meditation, it’s no surprise that many of us are now looking to delve even deeper into this thousand-year-old practice. Want to find ways to create and cultivate a meditation practice that works for you? Here, five ways to enhance your meditation practice—and really get your zen on.

1. Consistency is best. Try and pick the same time, place and length of time to meditate everyday—especially when you first begin. Creating a familiar routine will make it easier for you to stick to your meditation practice, and hopefully turn it into another (albeit lovely!) daily to-do. As you begin to get accustomed and comfortable with the practice, add on a few more minutes little by little (never more than five minutes at a time). That said, don’t stress over a missed day! Anxiety over your meditation practice is completely counterproductive. Instead, just tack on an extra minute or two to your next day’s practice, or simply just let it go. Remember, meditation is all about acceptance.

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2. Create realistic goals. If you sit down to meditate for the first time and expect to have a quiet mind and to be still without any distractions for thirty minutes, well, you’re setting yourself up for some frustration. Always start small, and work your way up to longer meditation times gradually. Take breaks when you need them (to, say, stretch if your back is hurting), and remember that this is part of the journey to a forever-practice that oftentimes won’t feel or look “perfect”.

3. Try an app. Accessing the practice of meditation can be as easy as downloading an app on our phone. Although using technology to enhance a meditation practice may seem counterintuitive, there are actually some super helpful apps to help introduce beginners to the basic concepts of meditation. Headspace, Stop, Breathe & Think, and Calm are all great options that offer users simple meditations, reminders, progress trackers and custom meditations based on your mood—perfect for the modern meditator.

4. Work with a teacher. Beginning a meditation practice can sometimes be difficult to do on your own, especially if you have questions about what you should “do” with your thoughts, emerging emotions, and frustrations when you feel like you just can’t drop in. Check if your local yoga studio offers meditation classes that are teacher-led, which can offer you a bit more guidance in your practice. If your city has a Buddhist center, you can also look at their schedule to see if they offer open-to-the-public meditations. I encourage you to stay and chat with teachers afterwards to ask them questions or to pick their brains. Most will be happy to give you their opinions and offer some words of wisdom to help you along with your practice!

5. Be patient. Remember that meditation comes easily to no one. The benefits might come quickly, or take a little longer for you to really feel them. You’ll have days when sitting seems impossible, and you’ll have days where you might have deep clarity around some issues you’ve been grappling with. The practice is never linear, so let go of your expectations of how it “should” go. Instead, look at it as a productive, beneficial and self-loving practice that is as essential as brushing your teeth or doing the laundry. You might not need to do these things, per se, but life sure is better when we do!

A few more meditation resources:

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