I have been interested in meditation for many years but have always struggled with concerns about not doing it “right”, lacking commitment to practice, and choosing a direction. There are so many varieties of meditation. I would read and practice an array of styles of meditation but never felt like I was getting any traction in developing continuity or maturity in my practice.
I heard about the Cenla Meditation Group and started attending regularly. There are specific factors that I encountered in this group that have helped to grow my understanding and practice. Those factors are implemented every time that we meet together and include the following: teaching and guidance, meditation practice together as a group, discussion, and fostering a sense of loving kindness toward ourselves, one another, and the world.
Meeting weekly helps to develop a sense of accountability and connectedness to one another. Meditating with others does not erase the challenges of practice, but it has changed the way that I relate to meditation.
– Regina Irvin
A personal sacred space
Choose a space that is dedicated just for your practice.
Select a place in your home that you will only use for your practice. Choose a space that will be relatively quiet when you practice and where you can be alone. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A corner of the bedroom or a large closet would even do. Place a cushion there and something meaningful to you, such as a candle or a picture that inspires you. You don’t balance your checkbook in this space. You don’t play on Facebook here. You turn the ringer off when you’re here. You just sit. Treat the space as sacred and only use it for your practice.
Practice at the same time every day, as much as possible.
It can be very helpful to begin your day with meditation, but if that doesn’t fit your schedule right now, find another time that works for you. Perhaps it will be easier for you to end your day and unwind with your practice, or you may find a 15 minute window of time during the day that works for you, perhaps when you first get home or when you put the baby down for a nap. The important thing is to practice at the same time of day, as much as possible. It sets the expectation in your mind and a makes that time for yourself a priority. Put it in your calendar and set an alarm in your phone if you must. No one else will make your practice a priority for you, if you don’t.
Create a meaningful ritual for your time in that space.
Find a way to make your practice your own using a simple ritual that is meaningful to you and sets your intention for your practice. Maybe you can light a candle and take a moment to express gratitude before you begin. Maybe you can include a picture of someone who is especially endearing to you that inspires you. Maybe it’s a simple mantra practice like loving kindness meditation that helps you begin your practice. Do whatever works for you that helps you to shift gears from the busyness of your life and into your practice.
Set reasonable goals for yourself.
If you’re not a morning person, it will be very difficult to suddenly try to get up at 4:30 am to meditate every day. Be realistic. Don’t try to sit for an hour any time soon. Even 5 minutes a few times a week is a good way to begin a new practice. If all you do is sit down on the cushion and put your body there in that space in that posture for a few breaths a day then get up and go about your day, it can be a very healthy way to begin creating a meaningful practice. Set small reasonable goals for yourself and make them a priority.
Be accountable to others.
The practice of meditation may seem like a lone ranger mentality, but the truth is that we need a safe supporting community. Even if it’s just one friend that we can share about our practice with, it really helps us to know someone else is on a similar path as ours. We all need encouragement and the opportunity to offer encouragement to others. Find a local yoga class or meditation group that you can practice with on occasion, or join an online discussion group on meditation. Even using an app on your phone like Insight Timer will put you in touch with other people who are engaged in similar types of practice as yours.
The bottom line is you just do it. You set your intention, you make it a priority, and defend that time in your day as a way of giving back to yourself and cultivating the enormous potential that is in you. Sometime you have to be a little selfish in order to be more selfless for everyone else in your life.