Many people these days are starting a mindfulness meditation practice with great intentions and lots of enthusiasm. They’ve heard of its health benefits, and are eager to start meditating. However, few of them stay committed long-term. And those who don’t stick with it will have a hard time dealing with stress in their lives.
There are several reasons why many people quit soon after beginning:
- They’re not sure how to get started
- They don’t understand what mindfulness meditation is
- They don’t have a plan for following through
- They don’t have a support group
Mindfulness meditation is like any other skill: it takes a little time and effort to learn, but it’s much easier than you might think. You just need a little guidance and the right resources.
Here are five suggestions to get you on the right track and keep you motivated:
- Write a goal statement.
Not having a goal is like trying to get directions from Google Maps without entering a destination. You won’t know where you’re going, or when you arrive. So, if you want to start a meditation practice and stick with it, establish some goals.
Decide how long and how often you’re going to meditate, and how you’re going to learn the techniques. Your goals don’t have to be elaborate, but they should be specific. And don’t make them overly ambitious, or you won’t follow through and will get discouraged. Write a short goal statement, and post it someplace you’ll see it every day, such as your bathroom mirror, or near your computer monitor.
- Start meditating for short periods.
The best way to start a meditation practice is simply to start meditating. You’d be surprised at how difficult this can be. We often procrastinate until we find the perfect time. Don’t wait. Start immediately.
Find a quiet place where you can sit for a few minutes without being disturbed. Close your eyes and begin following your breath. Focus your attention on the sensation of the air passing through the tip of your nose. Count your breaths one through five silently in your mind. When you get to five, simply start over again. When you get distracted, immediately bring your attention back to your breath, and continue counting. The counting helps you stay focused.
After a few minutes, stop counting and begin observing the entire breathing process mindfully. When you get distracted, gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
Start with about a 10-minute session, then work your way up to about 20 minutes or more. It may be a challenge to sit still in the beginning, but it will get easier as your mind settles down over time.
- Practice writing meditation.
Writing meditation is a new technique to reprogram your subconscious to help you achieve your goals. It only takes about five to 10 minutes a day, and it’s highly effective. The premise is simple. You just repeatedly copy a set of affirmations, and it will force your brain to rewire itself for the new habits. Within a week or two, you’ll find yourself acting differently without any conscious effort.
- Join a mindfulness meditation group.
The meditation group is an indispensable tool for helping you stay motivated and committed to your meditation practice. Not only will you benefit from meditating with others, but you will also gain the support of meditators just like you. Look for a mindfulness meditation group in your area, and attend it regularly. If there aren’t any near you, then start your own. It’s really simple. You only need a couple of people to get started.
- Learn the practice more in-depth.
Learning the mindfulness meditation practice more in-depth will enable you to get more from your efforts. There are several ways to learn, but probably the most economical way is through a book that explains how to apply the principles and techniques. There are several good books on the market.
Making a resolution to start meditating is easy, but following through can be a challenge. These five suggestions will help you get started, and keep you motivated and committed to your practice, so you can learn how to beat stress with mindfulness meditation.
Woman meditating photo available from Shutterstock