If you’re at all invested in wellness and success (and who isn’t?) you know the benefits of regular meditation. Increased awareness, reduced stress, better sleep and more focus—these are all things that daily mindful meditation can accomplish. I know it’s something that I need to prioritize this year, and so I’ve begun a daily meditation journey in the hopes of slowing down—and reaping some of those wellness rewards. But stopping and sitting still—quietly—can be difficult especially if work hard, play hard is your personal mantra. Since finding that work-life, mind-body balance is so important for long-term health, it’s time to make meditation a priority. And we can help. Here are 5 easy ways to start a meditation practice, that have helped me.
1. Download an app
There are more guided meditation apps than we can count, and you’ve likely heard or tried, some of them. Headspace, Calm, Smiling Mind—they’re all great options and can be downloaded for free at first so you can decide which one is right for you. Our editor pick has to go to Buddhify though. It’s $2.99 up front—but you won’t ever encounter any monthly fees after that, which makes it a bargain compared to many other options. Plus, Buddify focuses on meditating anytime, anywhere. This includes the usual suspects—in the morning and before you go to bed—but also more interesting options too, including on your commute, when you need a short break from your computer or when your in the bath so you can really zero in on a time and place that makes sense for your life.
2. Pick up a book
If you learn best by reading, then instead of diving right into meditation you might be more likely to keep up a practice if you learn about the science behind meditation and are offered some concrete examples of how it’s improved the lives of others. There are plenty of meditation books, so it really comes down to understanding what you need to start a practice. Do you need a no-bullshit approach? Do you need a how-to guide with step-by-step instructions? Do you need prompts? Do you need examples? A little research will go a long way and hopefully help you keep on track. Our suggestion? The Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-To Book by Dan Harris, Jeff Warren and Carlyle Adler (Spiegel and Grau).
3. Add it to your workout
Most exercise practices have a built-in cool down so that you can get your heart back to a regular rate or stretch out your just-pushed-to-the-limit body. Adding a few minutes of meditation to the end of your cool down is an easy way to add a mindful practice to your body conditioning—and since they’re both centered around wellness, we hope the extra time will be easy to justify. Simply finish up your cool down and then spend a few minutes sitting or laying and being mindful of your breath.
4. Get in bed
If the thought of meditating puts you to sleep, then don’t fight that impulse. Spend the first 5 minutes after getting in bed to go to sleep meditating instead. It’s no different then what you usually do, except for the intention to meditate and the awareness of your body and your breath. Just remember to start after you’re done looking at your phone (this includes setting your alarm).
5. Grab a buddy
We all know that having an exercise buddy is the easiest way to stay on track—you might let yourself down, but you probably won’t cancel on your friend last minute. The same idea applies to meditation. Sitting in silence with someone else is hard for many people, and it will feel awkward at first. But once you get going you’ll be amazed at how quickly 5, 10 even 15 minutes goes by. And we’re guessing that sitting with a friend will make you less likely to bail when you find yourself fidgety.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Alexandra Donaldson)