According to Leo Babuata of zenhabits, meditation is the most important habit to implement.
Three years ago, I began meditation after StumblingUpon Babuata's blog.
Every morning I woke up, sat on a comfortable cushion, and listened to my breath for 10-15 minutes. Well, every morning I wasn't hungover. And every morning I wasn't busy with school work. Aaand every morning I was at home, and not on the road.
Yeah, so it wasn't every morning. Simply put, meditation was not a priority.
But I wanted it to be. When I meditated, the benefits were enormous: increased creativity, improved emotional stability, decreased stress levels, and improved relationships with both established friends and new acquaintances.
So, how come it never stuck? Well, I never prioritized it like I did eating, or hanging with friends, or doing my homework. I did not have a complete understanding of how critical meditation was to improving my overall life statisfaction.
But now I do. And I am SO glad that meditation has become a critical aspect of my daily routine.
Every morning, right after taking a shower, I sit cross-legged on a couch cushion for 15-20 minutes and simply pay attention to my breath and its flow throughout my body. By paying attention to how it fills my lungs and then leaves my body, my overall life awareness has increased.
I am now mindful of nearly all my conscious thoughts. Thoughts that used to be tucked far, far away in the confusing swirl of daily activity are now grabbed with an iron hand and analyzed with a keen mind.
Do you want to know the best part of meditation, though? The reason why I will NEVER give it up for as long as I live?
It's not for the physical benefits, like lower blood pressure and a lower resting heart rate.
And it's not for the way my mind now glides effortlessly into a state of "flow".
The reason I meditate everyday is because meditation is my cornerstone habit. It is the one piece of my Jenga puzzle, that if pulled out, will cause everything else to come crashing down. The power of meditation has transformed my life.
Do you want to begin working out? Try meditating first. How about eating healthier? Give meditation a go. What about writing every single day? You MUST begin meditating.
Why is this?
Meditation does two primary things related to habit change. First, it creates a conscious awareness by enabling you to impartially observe your irrational thoughts until they fade away.
For example, say you want to begin writing but your mind is irrationally "afraid" of what will happen. You know what I'm talking about - the gripping pressure that builds inside your chest, forcing you to avoid any type of personal growth. We all deal with it.
Well, when you become more aware of your thoughts you can simply observe this irrational, ludicrous thought process and let it pass. This will help you to write creatively and hold nothing back.
The second reason builds on the first - by becoming aware of your thoughts, your cynical side will be thrown into the spotlight. Meditation is the perfect way to squash negativity and become a beacon of positive light.
In fact, according to a study carried out by Jon Kabat-Zinn, eight weeks of mindfulness meditation produced significant increases in left-sided anterior brain activity, which is associated with positive emotional states. Try that one on for size - meditation isn't just some wacky, fufu breathing technique 80 year old monks living in Buddhist temples use - it's actually been scientifically proven to make you a happer, more positive person. Way cool!
And when you become more positive, you're more likely to build new, POSITIVE habits so that your actions align with your state of consciousness.
All of this information brings up one question: How can I start?
I have great news. Here are five actionable steps you can take, beginning TOMORROW:
1. Do it early - Willpower is highest in the morning, so take meditate soon after waking. Instill a trigger, like drinking a cup of tea, brushing your teeth or taking a shower, and meditate immediately afterwards.
2. Start Small - Some novices, when beginning to meditate, try to do so for 15 minutes right off the bat. Don't do this - it's a sure-fire way to fail. The smaller you start, the easier it is to continue. Try 2-3 minutes every morning and gradually increase the length of time as your mind and body adjust accordingly.
3. Quiet spot - My favorite spot to meditate is on a couch cushion in my bedroom, early in the morning, before the day has begun. Finding a quiet spot will filter out unwanted distractions, helping you to focus on your breath. If you prefer to meditate outside, try a local park or a pretty spot in the woods.
4. Sit Comfortably - If in an uncomfortable position, your mind will focus on the discomfort rather than your breath. Settle in to a comfortable position and help free your mind completely. Some people meditate in a chair, some people on a couch cushion, and some while laying down (just don't fall asleep!). Find what works best for you. As a side note: sitting cross-legged may be uncomfortable at first, but as your body becomes more flexible, it will settle into this position. Give it time, if necessary.
5. Focus on your Breath - As you inhale, keep your focus on the path of your breath: through the mouth and nostrils, then through your throat, then down into your lungs and belly. Slowly exhale, again following the path of your breath. Sit up straight with your eyes slightly opened at a downward angle. This will help you to maintain focus on your breath, instead of getting lost in the distractions around you. I like to count while inhaling and exhaling. One inhale and exhale is 1, the second is 2, and so on, until I reach 5. I then start over at one. If your mind wanders at any time, restart the count back to one.
This is it. This is all you need to do to begin meditating immediately. Do this for a month, and you'll have a meditation habit.
I absolutely love doing meditations when I am traveling! Chakra meditations are probably my favorite while I'm traveling they are very effective at centering yourself and becoming aware of your space no matter your surroundings. You should do a post specifically about meditating while traveling! I love getting my oils together and meditating in new places. I get my doterrra oils from My Natural Market which allows me to have them shipped where ever I am. I will warn you the oils are very expensive though, they are not needed for meditations. I just enjoy them as an extra!
"The reason I meditate everyday is because meditation is my cornerstone habit. It is the one piece of my Jenga puzzle, that if pulled out, will cause everything else to come crashing down."
Perfect analogy, it helps me keep it all together... especially when traveling :)
Have you experimented with meditating multiple times per day vs only once? I've been meditating each morning for several months and although my flexibility has improved, I'm still not flexible enough to sit for more than 6-7 minutes without getting physically uncomfortable. I'm hoping that perhaps meditating 2-3 times per day instead of one long session like you might provide similar benefits.
The most I've done is morning and nighttime, but it never became a habit. If it's still physically uncomfortable, I'd recommend sitting in a chair. Mindfulness meditation doesn't have to be on the ground - it can be just as effective while laying down, standing up, or sitting in a chair. It's only important to be alert and alive while meditating.
This friend whom I see 2-3 times a year is amazing like you in that way of bringing new positive things to light and of improving life in wonderful ways. Thank you for that.
As someone who has practiced meditation for a long time I am very happy that you have decided to incorporate meditation into your life. I really enjoyed your tips to help get you started with meditation. One of the great things about meditation is that it takes on many forms and you can really customize it to fit your needs. You can meditate at work in the cubicle, on the way home in the car or even in the bathroom. Many forms of meditation like mindfulness do not require you to sit for long periods of time or even close your eyes. Make meditation work for you!
Welcome to the third part of a three-primer series on the keys to wellness. If you're curious about the previous two, check out nutrition and fitness.
And if you have any questions about my previous two posts, please leave a comment or e-mail me. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions.
Okay, so part 3 deals with stress. I’ll address three primary parts of stress: what it is, the forms it takes, and how to deal with it.
If you have ever taken a yoga class, you might have tried meditation. This being said, you were probably confused and maybe didn't exactly know what to do or what the purpose was. Well, let me enlighten you.
Meditation is a form of relaxation as well as a mental discipline. It will help you achieve a deeper state of self-awareness and understanding. Some benefits to meditation include, building self-confidence, increase in productivity, it helps with focus and concentration as well as memory. It provides you with peace of mind, happiness, and cures headaches, helps with anxiety, blood flow and has many more benefits. (For more examples of its benefits, check out: http://www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/05/100-benefits-of-meditation/)
Meditation is like training your mind to become more relaxed, develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness.
How to Meditate and Make it a Habit: