I think by now, we all know the benefits of meditation for mental health. When you bring your awareness into the present moment, it allows you to naturally let go of all of the mental ‘chit chat’ that causes a great deal of unneccessary stress and anxiety in our lives. But because we view meditation as something that “should” be done, we can often feel a little resistance towards sitting on the cushion and meditating. It’s as though it were a chore, like having to do the dishes everyday. Something not overly enjoyable, but something that must be done to keep things in order. Viewing meditation though those glasses will not only make your practice more difficult than it needs to be, but it will be hard to find any real joy in your practice. If you can make meditation a positive, joyful experience and generate the expectation of a positive event (perhaps like experiencing a sweet treat at the end of the meal!), it will be much easier to practice without resistance. You’ll experience deeper states of relaxation and peace. Here a few tips to help you-
Create the right space
A peaceful space to practice meditation that makes you want to be there is essential. A beautiful, peaceful space that invites you and calms you as soon as you enter, will help you to stay fully engaged in your meditation practices. If you don’t have that space in your home, then perhaps a place in nature, under a tree at a park or at a temple if you are lucky enough! It needs to be a place you enjoy being in.
Routine is important as it will eventually turn into a habit so that you don’t even think about it. I’ve been going to regular meditation classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for years at 7pm. I don’t even think about it now. It’s become a habit. If these classes are not on for whatever reason, something feels off or not right. I also do some form of daily meditation but having a meditation practice that is at a certain time regulary, helps to keep you on track. Habit is important. If you can do it daily, great, but even a few times a week will enable you to see benefits.
Change your practice up
You don’t always need to just sit on a cushion and focus on your breath. You can try walking meditations, mantra practice or kirtan, guided meditations (there are heaps of these for free online), loving kindness meditation or even a mindful yoga practice could be used as a meditation. Changing meditation techniques is a great way to keep your mind engaged and gives you something to look forward to .
Motivation and Dedication
In Buddhist practice, we always begin our practice with a motivation prayer and end with a dedication. The motivation or intention is why you are doing the meditation. And at the end of the practice, we dedicate the merit created by practicing, to benefit of all beings. If you are not a Buddhist, you can still make use of this way of thinking in your own practice. If your intention for practicing mediation is for greater peace of mind, then also think about all the people that will benefit from you practicing. Through regular meditation practice, you won’t be as reactive, you will be more peaceful, calm and happier and that in turn will benefit many other people. I find that this is another way to stay postive about meditation. It’s not just you that benefits, but countless other people, including family, friends and all beings that you come into contact with on a daily basis.
Remembering that you have all the conditions to practice meditation in your daily life can be positive. You have the physical and mental health to practice, the knowledge, the time, and the energy to practice meditation and all the conditions to truly “know thy self”, which is something so many other sentient beings will not be able to experience in this lifetime. Being grateful for all that you have puts you in a good space and helps you to stay focused on all the positives in your life, which also invites that feeling of joy.
Meditation can be a truly positive experience when you expect it to be and in these times of uncertainty, regular meditation practice can be the key to staying calm and positive, which should make meditation practice something to look forward too!