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3 Strategies to Build a Meditation Practice

Cultivating a contemplative practice begins with applying consistency in a few key areas. Here’s some advice on how to get started.

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Meditation Advisor
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A big part of what I do for a living is teach people how to create a home meditation practice. Meditation, for some, can feel like an isolating endeavor—sitting in your home, wondering if you’re doing it right, with a DVR full of episodes of your favorite show tempting you to park on the couch. The main thing people struggle with is being consistent. If you want to practice, you will need a calming environment, a set time each day, and the same amount of time. If you can master these three things your meditation practice will flourish.

Consistent Environment
Imagine getting home, tired after a long day. You yearn to crawl under your bed covers, but you don’t have a bed. You have to go into your closet, take out a bed frame, read the IKEA instructions, assemble it, get the mattress on, throw the sheets on top, and only then can you pass out. That’s a lot of work for something you know you’re going to do every day.

Most of us do that sort of thing when it comes to creating a meditation space. We grab cushions from the bed or couch, fling a pile of clothes out of the way, flop down, and expect to get enlightened.

Even if you don’t have a lot of space you can still have a meditation area in your home. You can place a statue, a candle, or incense on a table or the floor to mark the area where you will sit. I recommend getting a meditation cushion. Having one visible is an easy reminder.

Consistent Schedule
Identify a consistent time each day. Some people prefer to meditate when they wake up, others right before bed. I wake up, shower, walk the dog, put on the coffee, and sit. It’s become a part of my morning routine, just like brushing my teeth. It’s important to fit meditation into your regular schedule.

Making a conscious decision is vital so that you don’t tell yourself in the morning that you’ll do it later in the day, and then, in the evening, convince yourself that you have no time and should do it the next day. One can go months playing that game. The more consistent you are with your practice, the more natural it will become.

Consistent Amount of Time
Set a specific amount of time you will meditate each day. I recommend starting with a 10-minute window. Most of us have 10 free minutes. Even if you’re busy with family or work you still can take time in the morning or evening. Pick an amount of time you can maintain and stick to it. It is helpful to use a timer so you don’t have to think about time—just sit until the alarm sounds.

Of note: One day you might sit down to meditate and your allocated 10 minutes will feel like forever. You will convince yourself it’s been an hour, look at the time, and realize it’s only been two minutes. Don’t freak out. Sit for the remaining eight minutes. The next day you might be so blissfully immersed that you are surprised when the timer goes off. You might think you want to sit longer. Don’t do that. It is best to stick to your allotted time.

Please, don’t judge your meditation practice. Your mind is your mind. We shouldn’t label our practice sessions as good or bad. Any meditation is good meditation.

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