How to Continue
At its most simple meditation is a healthy mental exercise.
Healthy body, healthy mind - both are important.
We can learn to settle, to focus, to be more present and calm - but we do need to practise if we want this to happen. It won’t happen just by knowing about it (like the gym.)
Here are some tips that students have found helpful in establishing a regular meditation practice.
• BE REALISTIC
Often we leave here with high hopes. Inspired to continue (which is great) but we should also be realistic.
—Even small amounts of practice can have a huge impact
—don’t think you have to do 30 minutes/1 hour a day for it to be beneficial
—much better to succeed at doing 5 minutes a day rather than fail at trying to do 1 hour per day
(a little regularly more important than bursts of lots occasionally)
—Richard Davidson (neuroscientist, professor, and pioneering researcher into the impact of meditation on the brain) has demonstrated that even 8 minutes per day for 2 weeks had a measurable impact on the brain
• SHORT TERM GOAL
—Make a commitment to give it a go for 1 month (or even 10 days). At the end of that see if it's helping you. If yes, then maybe make another goal. If not, give it up - do something else.
—Knowing we only have to continue for a fixed time makes it easier to stick to. We know we can give it up at the end of that time but it also gives us a good opportunity to test out if meditation is helpful to us.
• SOME TIPS ON HOW TO FORM A HABIT
If we can make a habit of meditation then we don't have to keep making ourselves do it, it just starts to happen automatically. These tips apply to any habit, not just meditation, and come out of much research (a lot of it done by Walmart!)
—Meditating at the same time every day helps. For some people this is the morning but find a time that suits you. If you really can’t find time at home then maybe on the train, or in a break.
—Meditating every day also helps form the habit much quicker (even if it's just 1 minute a day, we will create the habit of sitting.)
—Attach your meditation to a pre-existing habit (piggyback!) Find something you do every day, brushing your teeth for example, and decide to practice meditation after that.
—Reward yourself - nice cup of tea/coffee/chocolate...
Trigger / Action / Reward is the basis of forming any habit. (The gratitude and appreciation that we have been bringing at the end of each practice is also a subtle reward. Saying 'well done' and thanking ourselves :)
• Try not to judge your practice. There is no such thing as a bad meditation (the only bad meditation is the one you don't do)
• If you can, create a beautiful space in your house/apartment. It can be very simple, but a clean, clear space - with no distractions. A place you like to go.
—Don’t make a separation between your formal meditation and everyday life. We are not trying to become expert meditators on the cushion and then be completely stressed out and distracted during the day.
—Find moments during the day to come back to a simple awareness of the present moment - a single breath, or just aware of sounds.... This will really help to bring mindfulness and awareness into everything we do - until eventually it becomes just how we are.
—Formal practice will help you remember to come back to these moments during the day.
—The more you do this the easier and quicker you will be able to recentre and ground yourself during the day. Just one breath can bring you straight back into the practice.
—Come together with people. Soooo important. Once a week, or even once a month can be such a great help in maintaining inspiration.Find a local group. If this isn’t possible then maybe connect digitally (even knowing someone else is meditating with you can help)
—In Amsterdam: The Meditation Cafe . nl (morning and evening meditations, like in Mandali, 1-day city retreats (next is 8 December) + more…)
—bodhi: guided meditations - 30 days of meditation, 30 days of loving kindness - plus during the day meditations (before a meeting, commuting, walking…)
—insight timer: start and stop bells, meditate with others, and gold stars when you do 10 days in a row :)
Feel free to get in touch email@example.com
Drop by if you’re in Amsterdam