About eight percent of adults in the United States currently practice meditation. Initially, that might not seem like a lot, but it still works out to about 18 million people!
Are you interested in joining this group of regular meditators? Have you tried to start a meditation practice but not been able to stick with it for more than a few days?
Whether you’re brand new to meditation or have tried it and need help forming a lasting habit, keep reading. Below is some important information about the benefits of meditation, along with eight tips to help you start — and stick with — a consistent practice.
Benefits of Meditation
Some of the most well-known benefits of meditation include:
Meditation helps you manage your stressors better and avoid reacting when things go wrong. Many people who have high-stress jobs — such as nurses and police officers — have found meditation to be incredibly beneficial.
Meditation also helps you stay present and avoid giving into distractions throughout the day. You’ll be more productive and have an easier time retaining important information.
Meditation increases signaling in the left side of the brain’s prefrontal cortex — this part of the brain is responsible for positive emotions. It also decreases activity on the right side, which is responsible for negative feelings. People who meditate also have an easier time accepting their current situation and maintaining an optimistic outlook.
Better Cardiovascular System Functioning
People who meditate tend to have lower blood pressure, an essential component of overall cardiovascular health. If your blood pressure is high, lowering it will decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other serious illnesses.
Starting and Sticking with Meditation
Knowledge of the benefits of meditation can help motivate you to get started. But, how do you stick with a meditation practice when motivation starts to slip away?
Keep these tips in mind as you start your practice and you’ll have an easier time maintaining it.
1. Schedule Your Practice
Plan on meditating at the same time every day. Write it on your calendar and do everything you can to avoid breaking this date you’ve set for yourself. Treat it like any other appointment and, if you need to cancel for some reason, make sure you reschedule.
2. Start Small
If you try to take on too much, too soon, you’re more likely to end up falling off the wagon. Don’t think you need to spend thirty minutes meditating every single day.
Spending just five minutes a day meditating can have a huge impact on your health and well-being. If five minutes is too hard, remember that dedicating just one minute to tuning in and focusing on being present also counts.
3. Try Guided Meditations
When you’re just getting started — or even if you’re a seasoned professional — guided meditations can help you stay present and avoid getting frustrated with yourself.
There are lots of apps out there that offer free guided meditations. These apps also let you try out different kinds of meditation to figure out which one works best for you.
4. Don’t Judge
Do your best not to judge or get frustrated with yourself if your mind starts to wander while you’re meditating.
It’s inevitable that you’ll get distracted and let your focus drift from the present moment. Don’t get mad at yourself — just gently guide your attention back to your breath and start again.
5. Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Remember to celebrate your accomplishments as you’re working to establish a consistent meditation practice.
Set small goals for yourself (meditating for ten days in a row or spending at least five minutes each day meditating, for example) and be proud when you accomplish them.
Whether you actually give yourself a reward or spend a minute giving yourself a pat on the back, be sure to do something to celebrate.
6. Join a Meditation Group
Some people find that meditating in a group setting can be beneficial, especially when they’re first getting started. A group will create outer accountability and help keep you motivated to meditate consistently, even when you don’t particularly feel like it.
Try searching online for meditation groups near you, or look into online groups that meet via social networking websites like WhatsApp.
7. Find Ways to Meditate Throughout the Day
You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor to meditate. The great thing about meditation is that you can do it anytime. It’s also totally free, and you don’t need any fancy equipment!
If you’re a busy person, dedicating even five minutes to meditation can seem impossible. But, can you focus on your breath while you’re riding the elevator or climbing the stairs to your office?
Finding little ways to drop in and enjoy the present moment can make a big difference in your stress levels.
8. Find a Meditation Coach
If you’re really struggling with establishing a meditation practice, you might also benefit from working with a meditation coach. You’ll have someone to be accountable to, and he or she can offer guidance and answer any questions you have.
Many meditation coaches work with people via video chat or over the phone, so you don’t have to worry about finding someone who lives near you.
Meditation comes with a number of physical and mental health benefits, and it’s great for people of all ages and professions. Whether you’re a busy professional, a student, or a stay-at-home mom, these tips can help you start and stick with a meditation practice once and for all.