Struggling to find the time?
Frustrated by too many thoughts?
Keep falling asleep?
I get it. You’ve heard how great meditation is, you’ve tried it, maybe more than a few times, but you feel like you must be doing something wrong because it’s just not working.
STOP! You need to read this …
Don’t be so hard on yourself. I’m sure you’re not doing anything wrong. Perhaps you just need a little guidance and reassurance to get the maximum benefit from your meditation practice.
Here’s my top 5 tips to refine your meditation practice:
1. Be kind to yourself
At the heart of all things mindfulness is being kind to yourself. Mindfulness meditation is a skill and like with anything new, it takes practice. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or have any expectations about what should be happening or what outcome you’d like to achieve. With meditation, you’re not trying to achieve anything; you’re just noticing what’s there. Treat each meditation as a new experience, approach it with curiosity and as an opportunity to befriend your mind and get to know it a little better.
Keep trying, you’re doing great.
2. You can’t stop the thoughts!
It’s a common misconception that meditation is about clearing your mind completely. But how can you? Trying to stop the mind from thinking is like trying to stop the heart from beating – it’s not possible. We need thoughts otherwise we wouldn’t be able to function or develop but clearly some of our thoughts are more helpful to us than others. Meditation helps us to develop greater awareness of our thoughts and teaches us how to listen to the ones that move us forward and let go of the ones that hold us back. This well-known phrase from the founder of modern mindfulness explains it beautifully.
“You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
3. There’s no right or wrong
Put simply, mindfulness is focussing on the here and now, moment to moment. During meditation, it’s common to focus on the breath as an anchor because the breath is a constant and happens automatically. It sounds easy but the mind will always try to distract you and when that happens, you just guide your attention back to the breath. You might have to do this several times during a meditation but that’s OK and it doesn’t make the session right or wrong, good or bad. In fact, noticing your mind has wandered is a great achievement and deserves a pat on the back.
It’s called a mindfulness practice – not perfect! Just go with the flow and see what you notice each time.
4. Creating more time
Don’t think you have time to practice? You don’t need to practice for hours on end to experience the benefits of mindfulness. Research shows that just showing up every day, even for a minute, will be beneficial. One of the easiest ways to create a sustainable practice is to attach it to an existing habit. I like to meditate first thing in the morning before I get caught up in anything else. You might prefer it last thing before bed. You could attach it to your exercise routine or daily journaling/reading.
A few mindful breaths while waiting for the kettle to boil not only keeps you grounded but helps you build a consistent practice that is part of your day rather than separate from it.
5. And so to sleep
What’s the point meditating if I end up falling asleep? This is a common concern. I’ve mentioned already that just showing up each day to practice is beneficial. If you fall asleep, that’s a strong message that perhaps you need more sleep and hopefully the little power nap will leave you feeling refreshed and energised!
There are things you can do to reduce the sleepy feelings. It’s OK to just lower your gaze rather than close your eyes if you prefer. If you meditate lying down, try sitting upright instead or even try mindful walking. Check that the room isn’t too warm and if you know you feel drowsy after a full meal, try leaving a couple of hours before you start your meditation.
Have a little experiment to see what makes a difference. There is no right or wrong – just your experience.
Remember this is your practice so notice what’s happening, take a step back, get curious and find what works best for you. If I can help in any way, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
With love and kindness