We’re no strangers to dealing with tough times, and we know that any little ounce of kindness can go a long way, be it to others or even to ourselves. Whether that means eating better, making a constant effort to work out, or simply even allotting a little time in the day all to ourselves, these little adjustments can turn into habits that let us have clearer minds and healthier lives.
When it comes to keeping our mental health and emotions in check, meditation definitely does wonders. Its long list of benefits include better stress and anxiety management, longer attention span, increased memory and focus, and even a more positive outlook and kinder disposition.
However, meditation is a lot easier said than done. If you don’t get it right on your first try, it doesn’t mean you’ll never get there. It take some practice to incorporate meditation into your daily routine.
As we celebrate World Mental Health Awareness Day on Oct. 10, let us be reminded of the importance of mental health and wellness starting with tips on how to get started with your practice:
Be calm, open, and patient.
Get into meditation with no expectations—don’t think you can’t do it, or about what might keep you from doing it. Try to start with your mind as open as possible; focus on your breathing first and whenever you find yourself drifting into your thoughts, simply focus on the breath again. It’s perfectly fine to have your mind wander. As you regularly practice, you find yourself drifting away less and less often!
Incorporate it into your schedule.
Set a specific time and place to meditate, and stick with that schedule—even just five to ten minutes of your day are more than enough to get started. By setting this recurring time for yourself, you unconsciously yet mentally prepare the session, which increases your chances to successfully make it a daily practice. Keep at it even on days you don’t feel like doing it or are in a rush, and you’ll see how easily it will come to you later on. If you don't know where to start, try doing it first thing in the morning.
Sitting still can be a challenge, especially when we are just getting started. Do what feels most comfortable, even if it means changing positions or standing up and taking a walk as you meditate. As long as it feels right and helps you focus on your breathing, there is no right or wrong way to do it.
Start with slow and small movements after.
Meditation is a way of giving yourself a break, whether it be from a mentally challenging day or physically tiring activity. Ease into the next step of your routine by moving slowly at first, without shocking your body. Focus on how you perceive the outside world a little bit differently after a session. It will help you realize the benefits of just a few minutes of practice, and make it easier for you to commit to doing it again the next day.
Allow yourself to be guided.
Meditating for the first time or starting your practice on a day when you don’t feel like it might just be the hardest part. But, classes, videos, and apps are available to guide and walk you through your journey. You don’t have to do this alone: all you have to do is stay open and listen.