When there are thoughts, it is distraction: when there are no thoughts, it is meditation. - Ramana Maharshi
For my new year’s resolution this year I set a goal to meditate 5 minutes a day, everyday. I chose to tackle the daunting task of meditating for a few reasons.
1) Meditation is great for you and has the science to back it up. Meditation research has shown benefits such as reducing blood pressure, stress, anxiety, decreased inflammation in the body, and the slowing of biological aging. Further benefits include improving memory, attention, thought processing, and mindfulness. The list goes on and on.
2) My life as a consistent yogi and hard working woman, I felt a lack of space to take a few minutes to myself each day and do nothing but sit in quiet with my thoughts. This would be just the next step in working towards giving myself what I need to be happy and healthy.
Personally, I like to sit up on a pillow in a comfortable cross-legged position with no backrest. This helps me find proper alignment without being so relaxed I’ll fall asleep. Other options include sitting in a chair or even laying down on the floor or bed.
Set a timer for the allotted time so you don’t spend any time focusing on how much time you have left. Next close your eyes and tune in to your other senses. What do you hear, smell, taste, and feel? Acknowledge these elements in your environment and slowly let them melt away.
Focus on your inhales and exhales. Thoughts may drift in and out of your consciousness. Don’t fight them, but instead let them drift by without putting too much thought into any one idea.
Continue this until the timer buzzes, then slowly take a deep breath and open your eyes. Increase the length of time as you feel comfortable with your meditation practice.
The first few days were successful, as with most resolutions. I was able to set a timer on my phone, tune out everything, focus on my breath, let my thoughts drift, and practice the ultimate feeling of mindfulness in the present. I was hooked. After every meditation my thoughts were clearer, I could visualize my goals more tangibly, and found more energy during my day.
After a Few Days
After the initial success, I began to create excuses as to why I couldn’t give myself 5 minutes.
“I’m too tired”
“I went to yoga today so that counts”
“I have a bunch of other more important things to do”
These were all on the list of reasons why I had no time for what I had set out to accomplish. Although I would only skip a day or two at a time then resume my daily 5 minutes, I was still not meditating everyday. This brought up a few thoughts about resolutions, goals, and promises we make to ourselves.
1) We make resolutions for the start of a new year – this human concept of a “new beginning”, but the reality is we can start our resolutions any day. Each day is the opportunity for a new beginning.
2) Goals we set for ourselves without having any one else to hold us accountable makes them harder to achieve. I made sure to start telling my friends, coworkers, and family about my meditation resolution. Saying it out loud to others made it more tangible for myself and I knew I would be held accountable when it was brought up next time I saw my support system.
3) I tend to value the promises I make to myself less than the promises I make to others. Why is that? Why do I consider the obligations where others depend on me more important than the obligations to myself?
With these ideas in mind I came to a few conclusions about how to succeed in meditating everyday.
Don’t make excuses for yourself – you are important and deserve to enjoy the space and time you create.
Use strategies such as telling others or blocking off time in your planner in order to make your goal more tangible.
Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself. Life happens, days get hectic, and sometimes there really isn’t any time. Let it go and start over where you left off the next day. Your meditation practice isn’t going anywhere without you.
Tell me about your meditation practice! Do you meditate or want to meditate? What have you tried that works or doesn’t work? The more we engage as a community and talk about it, the more we feel supported to give ourselves the opportunity to try meditation.