10 tips to improve your meditation practice
Meditation is an integral part of many people’s lives. Whether you are trying to manage stress, sleep better, or improve your focus and concentration, meditation can help! But if you’re like most people who have tried meditation in the past without success, the experience might be less than satisfying. That’s why we’ve compiled ten tips that will make mediation more effective for you.
1. Create a comfortable space for meditation
It is important to create a space that you will enjoy and be comfortable in so that it feels like your own. This could be in your bedroom, living room, or even outside. Whatever the space, make sure that it is free of distractions (such as your phone), and you can relax there.
For some people, a comfortable space means turning off all electronics and making sure their phone isn’t going to ring. Others might need music or soft lighting. Really think about what would make you most relaxed before beginning meditation practice.
2. Try different types of meditations
There are many different types of meditation, and it can be helpful to try a few until you find one that resonates with you. Mindfulness is a great place to start as it simply asks you to focus on the present moment without judgement. This could be your breath, sounds around you, or physical sensations in your body. Mantra meditation is another popular type that involves repeating a word or phrase to help you focus.
If you find one type of meditation isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to try something else! The most important thing is that you are finding what works best for YOU and not anyone else.
3. Remember that meditation is not about trying to stop thoughts from coming up; instead, simply acknowledge them and let them go
Struggling to calm your mind is a common issue for those who are relatively new to meditation. Thoughts come up, and when we try too hard they only seem to snowball from there. A great way to overcome this obstacle is by simply recognising that you have these thoughts as not being wrong or “bad” but instead just letting them be and moving on. Try your best to breathe through them, acknowledge that they’ve happened and then refocus yourself back onto the present moment.
For some people it can be helpful to imagine a thought as just a leaf floating down a stream – it passes by very quickly with nothing you need to focus too much energy on. Remembering this analogy can help when you find yourself getting wrapped up in a thought.
4. Set a time for your meditation practice
Also, think about what time of day works best for you to meditate. You should pick a consistent time each day so that meditation becomes easier over time.
Knowing when you will practice meditation is also important for your expectations and planning out your day. If meditating before bed helps you sleep better, then that may be the time of day to try. However, if you find it makes you feel groggy in the morning or like a zombie at work then maybe consider a different time of day.
For some people, it is also helpful to meditate first thing in the morning once they wake up, as this can help you feel more centred and focused for your whole day.
5. Prepare yourself before you begin meditating by taking some deep breaths
Similar to how athletes might prepare before a game, taking some deep breaths can help you get into the right mindset for meditation. This is also known as “warming up.”
When you’re ready, close your eyes and take three deep breaths in and out. On the inhale, imagine that you are breathing in energy and on the exhale, imagine that you are breathing out negative energy or stress. Try your best to focus on just these breaths and nothing else.
When you begin meditating it can be helpful to spend the first five minutes simply focusing on your breath – this is also known as “tuning in.” To do this, inhale through your nose for four seconds and exhale through your mouth for six seconds. Count each inhale and exhale in your head to help keep track.
After you’ve warmed up and tuned in, you can begin to focus on the meditation technique that you’re using. If thoughts come up, simply acknowledge them and let them go.
6. Spend 5-10 minutes after your meditation reflecting on what you experienced during your session
After you’ve finished meditating, it can be helpful to spend a few minutes journaling about your experience. Ask yourself what happened during the session and how you feel afterwards. Do this every day for one week to help keep track of any patterns that appear over time.
You may find that some thoughts are more common than others or maybe there are certain feelings that come up every time you meditate. Maybe emotions are more present or maybe there are less of them than usual? Analysing your experience can help you better understand where to focus on improving next.
7. Create an intention for the meditation – maybe it’s to feel more relaxed, or less stressed
This can be helpful for setting an intention before meditating or even simply at the start of each day. When you wake up, spend a few minutes reflecting on what you want to focus on today. Then set this as your intention for that day’s practice.
For example, if you had trouble sleeping last night, your intention for today’s meditation might be to relax and get more rest. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with work, your intention could be to focus on finding a sense of peace and calm.
8. Use guided meditations if you need help staying focused
If you are new to meditation or find that your mind wanders a lot, it may be helpful to try out some guided meditations.
When you’re beginning, this can also help with focusing on the breath when learning how to meditate because there’s less room for thinking about anything else. While listening to these recordings is not necessary, they can be a helpful tool to have in your arsenal.
There are many different types of guided meditations that you can find online or even on YouTube. A few popular ones are mindfulness meditation, body scan meditation, and loving-kindness meditation.
9. Use aromatherapy as an aid
Aromatherapy is a type of complementary therapy that uses essential oils to promote healing. It’s been used for centuries and can be a really helpful tool when it comes to relaxation and stress relief.
There are many different ways to use aromatherapy, but one of the most popular is through diffusers.
Essential oils can be a great way to help create an intention for your meditation, as well. For example, lavender essential oil is known to promote relaxation and sleep so using this before bedtime might be helpful.
10. Be patient with yourself – it takes time to learn how to meditate well!
When you first start meditating it can be really difficult to stay focused. This is completely normal, and no one’s experience of meditation is exactly the same.
Just like how running might take some practice, so too does meditation. Try your best not to get discouraged when thoughts or feelings come up during this time – instead, acknowledge them and then let them go.
Over time, you will get better at focusing and your practice will become more comfortable. Be patient with yourself and know that it takes time to learn how to meditate well!
We hope these tips help you in your meditation practice. Remember to be patient, experiment, and most importantly have fun. Meditation can be a great way to connect with yourself and enjoy the present moment. It can also have a positive impact on both our mental and physical health. Want to know how? Simply read our blog ‘how can meditation support our mental and physical health?’.