HOW TO START A HOME MEDITATION PRACTICE

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Our mindfulness practice is not about vanquishing our thoughts. It’s about becoming aware of the process of thinking so that we are not in a trance—lost inside our thoughts. That’s the big difference. To train in becoming mindful of thoughts can help us to notice when your mind is actively thinking, either using the label “thinking, thinking,” or identifying the kind of thought—“worrying, worrying,” “planning, planning.” Then, becoming interested in what’s really happening right here. Coming home to the sensations in your body, your breath, the sounds around you, the life of the moment. As our mindfulness practice deepens we become more aware of our thoughts. This offers us the opportunity to assess them and notice that much of the time our thoughts are not really serving us. Many thoughts are driven by fear and lock us into insecurity.
— Tara Brach

Studies have shown meditation to improve inflammation, memory, perception of pain, mood, cognitive function, attention, creativity, social connection and even immunity. It’s one of the best ways to increase your health and happiness and requires nothing but your breath. More on the science here.

Here's How To Get Started With Your Own Meditation Practice: 

  1. Pick a spot in your home where you’ll practice. Even if it’s just a corner in your room it’s helpful to have a spot designated to your new habit. For extra points make it super inviting and visually appealing to you. 

  2. To begin your practice, find a supportive posture--either sit in a chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor, sit on a pillow or cushion on the floor or lay down (if you can stay awake!). Find a posture that lets you relax yet still stay alert enough to not fall asleep.

  3. Decide how much time you want to meditate for and set a timer ( I love insight timer for a timer app) or start your guided meditation (see options below). 

  4. Pick an anchor to keep coming back to. Most meditation practices suggest using the breath as the anchor which means the whole practice is to bring your awareness to your natural breath. Other potential anchors could be your body sensations, or ambient sounds. Your mind will wander and when you notice that’s happened bring the attention back to your breath. Repeat over and over again. Every time you catch yourself drifting away and gently redirect your attention to your anchor, you're are strengthening your attention. That’s it-- that’s the whole practice! 

  5. Be consistent! The most important part of meditation is how consistent you can be. I suggest dedicating to daily practice but start with a super tiny goal. For example, commit to 1 minute meditation a day until the habit becomes solid. You can always expand it from there once you’re used to sitting each day. On days you feel "too busy to meditate" go back to your 1 minute practice. I have a daily commitment of that slides between 1 - 20 minutes depending on how much time I have. This keeps me consistent as I can never make a reasonable excuse for not getting in my minimum commitment. 

  6. Don’t judge your practice. Studies have shown that even if you feel like it was a “bad meditation” (super distracted, tons of thinking) you still get the benefits of the practice. What matters is the consistency not the subjective quality. Think of it like brushing your teeth. You don’t judge whether it was good or bad you just commit to doing it everyday. Meditation is like training for you mind and the only thing that matters is doing it consistently.  

  7. Find support and inspiration. Seek out teachers, community, guided meditations to help deepen and expand your practice. Reach out if you’d like additional suggestions or local referrals!

FREE RESOURCES I LOVE: 

Comprehensive Meditation Guides

For an expanded guide to getting started with meditation check out Tara Brach’s How to Meditate . It's free, incredibley clear and thorough. 

Timers

Insight Timer : https://insighttimer.com

Apps That Teach You To Meditate

Headspace: https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app

Calm: https://www.calm.com/

Free meditation downloads:  

Dr. Daniel Siegel, UCLA based psychiatrist and mindfulness researcher www.mindfulness-solution.com

Tara Brach, one of the leading Western meditation teachers - https://www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditations/  also her podcast offers hundreds of additional guided meditations of all lengths. I love these and use them most frequently in my own practice : https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tara-brach/id265264862?mt=2

LOW COST RESOURCES I LOVE:

Books

Rick Hanson: Buddha’s Brain; Hardwiring Happiness

Jon Kabat-Zinn: Wherever You Go, There You Are; Full Catastrophe Living; Coming To Our Senses                                

Tara Brach: Radical Acceptance; True Refuge

Pema Chodron: When Things Fall Apart; Start Where You Are

Pema Chodron: How To Meditate

Thich Nhat Hanh: The Miracle of Mindfulness; Peace is Every Step

Sharon Salzberg: Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness; Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation

Chade-Meng Tan: Search Inside Yourself

Guided Meditation CDs/mp3 recordings

Jon Kabat-Zinn: Mindfulness for Beginners

Sharon Salzberg: Real Happiness (book includes a great meditation CD)

Patricia Bloom: Mindfulness for Busy People; Using Your Mind to Heal Your Body; Mindfulness Practice; Cultivating Compassion and Connection