5 Tips for Beginning Your Meditation Practice
By: Molly Pelletier, Nutritionist & Yoga Instructor
Meditation is an effective and free self-care practice that can significantly improve stress levels, mental clarity, and self-awareness. Not to mention the researched immune health benefits of meditation! Implementing meditation as part of your daily routine can be a powerful way to set daily intentions, as well as create a positive tone for the rest of the day. Although focusing on the breath may be a simple concept, beginning a meditation practice can be slightly daunting. Here are a few tips for beginning and sustaining your meditation practice, in order to reap the benefits.
In the beginning of your meditation practice, sitting for long periods of time can be uncomfortable and unnecessary! Even 5 minutes a day of deep breathing can make all the difference in your stress levels, decision making, and ability to focus. Start with a few minutes of centered, present breathing. Simply focusing on your inhale and exhale is a great place to begin. Adding a few minutes each week will eventually bring you into a deeper meditation practice with less discomfort! Using the free App, Insight Timer, can help you to set personalized timers for your meditations.
2. Make it a Habit Within Your Routine.
Similar to brushing your teeth, think of your meditation practice as a non-negotiable part of your routine. Find a chunk of time within your day that works best to dedicate 15-20 minutes to yourself. It could be first thing in the morning, on your lunch break, or before bed. I prefer to meditate in the morning when my mind is the least cluttered. After brushing my teeth and having a cup of tea, I’ll do a few quick stretches and meditate for around 10 minutes. This helps me feel calm, grounded, and focused on my intentions for the day.
If meditating in the morning doesn’t work well for your schedule, not to worry. Meditating at night can be a great way to settle into a deep, restful sleep. Give this 7-Minute Meditation For Deep Sleep a try to begin your before-bed meditation practice.
3. Create The Space.
Designating a special area for your meditation practice is helpful for improving focus and helping to establish meditation as part of your everyday routine. Find a cozy corner or area of your home where you can be separate from your desk, agenda, etc. My meditation space involves a comfy sitting bolster, some intention setting cards, ear plugs (in case of noisy city construction!) and a journal to jot down any ideas that may arise during my practice. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but creating a calming environment for your meditation can make a huge difference in improving focus during your practice. Dim the lighting, add a few candles, plants, essential oils, or anything that helps you set the vibe!
4. Utilize Guided Meditations & Helpful Apps.
Guided meditations can be the perfect place to start learning the basics, as well as exploring different types of meditation. Trying a variety of guided meditations can help you discover which types you prefer. My favorite meditation app is Insight Timer, because it offers thousands of free guided meditations in a multitude of categories: anxiety, concentration, sleep, confidence, you name it. There are also tons of guided meditations on YouTube: Check out my 10-Minute Calming Meditation for Decreasing Stress!
5. Don’t Give Up.
Meditation is simple, but not easy! Don’t get discouraged if you find it difficult to stay focused at first. Improving concentration and mental clarity comes with daily practice. It has taken me years to develop my practice and be able to sit for longer periods of time. Some days will be easier than others, so avoiding self-criticism and being patient with yourself are essential virtues in your meditation journey. Commit to a daily practice that is enjoyable and sustainable in order to reap the benefits of this powerful practice!
Molly Pelletier is a Nutritionist and Master of Science in Dietetics Candidate. She is also a 500-hour certified Yoga & Meditation Instructor who frequently shares yoga sculpt classes and health tips on her YouTube Channel. For more gut health and digestion tips, check out @zucchini.who on Instagram and Molly Pelletier on YouTube.