Finding the time to meditate can be difficult. I know what it’s like to struggle with making time for myself. The more I devote my career to helping others and their communities thrive, the more I realise the value of investing in myself. Here are some tips for creating a sustainable meditation routine, as I myself have managed to do.
Allows you to be kind to yourself
A key theme throughout the practice of meditation is treating yourself with kindness. For me and many others, meditation breeds mindfulness. Mindfulness means noticing your emotions without judgment. Knowing what you are feeling without criticising what is on your mind may help you move through life with less worry and pessimism. For me, it certainly has helped me stay optimistic and goal-oriented, especially amidst the unforeseen circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Being kind to yourself requires you to loosen your expectations, especially during your meditation practice. You may expect to feel refreshed entirely at the end of every meditation practice. However, the truth is that meditation’s short-term effects may not always result in an immediate release of stress and irritation. However, that does not make the practice any less critical for your overall well-being.
Come to terms with the reality that the benefits of meditation may not always look like a steady uphill climb. It may be easier for you to sit down and meditate on some days than others. There may be days, perhaps several of them consecutively, where you do not feel like your practice is ‘working.’ That is okay and normal. I encourage you to understand that showing up every day to meditate and staying committed to your long-term progress is enough evidence that meditation is ‘working’ for you.
Allows you to connect with a community
Self-help apps have made the practice of meditation more accessible than ever before. Although these apps tend to individualise meditation, don’t let that discourage you from connecting with a community of meditators. Finding a community of like-minded people who value meditation and its benefits can help you stay connected to the practice. It may also help you hold yourself accountable to building better habits, even on days when sitting still with your thoughts seems impossible.
The types of communities available to meditators vary. There are traditional communities at local Vipassana or Zen centers. Some have found communities within professional organisations at their companies or have joined inter-company communities. The Mindful on Wall Street initiative, for example, came to fruition with help from executives at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and the Ford Foundation. During the pandemic, you can also connect with virtual communities via Zoom. Doing so makes a difference in forming new social bonds and staying connected to others throughout this lengthy period of isolation.
Allows you to commit to accountability
If joining a community is not a helpful or appealing way for you to hold yourself accountable, I have additional tips for staying committed to meditation. One way to keep yourself responsible is to pick the same time every day to meditate. Whether you choose to meditate every day before getting out of bed or every day after lunch, no one knows your schedule better than you do. I advise you to be realistic about what time of day works best for you. Sticking to that time as frequently as possible will help you adjust to a routine, which, in turn, will help you reap the consistent benefits of mindfulness.
You also have the option of working with an instructor or accountability coach. Collaborating with a meditation instructor can help you refine your skills and even achieve a certain level of mastery in your practice. Be sure to do your research about the instruction options available to you before choosing a mentor. While there is no universally recognised certification for mindfulness meditation teachers, some instructors have years of experience under their belts from larger Zen or Vipassana schools. You can also seek out a one-on-one instructor from more traditional schooling options, such as Google’s Search Inside Yourself initiative or the University of Massachusetts’ MSBR program.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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