How and Why to Make Time for Daily Meditation

A daily meditation practice has so many benefits that this whole entry could be dedicated to describing them. Here are some of them “Benefits of Meditation”   The biggest benefit daily practice has given me is that it helps me less likely to react to a stressful situation.   I find that I take the time to pause, think, and respond, being mindful not to overreact or get too emotional. This has really helped in my personal relationships, especially with my husband. I have also noticed that I have better self-awareness of my moods, longer periods of focus, and improved decision-making.

I practiced yoga for about 2 years before giving daily meditation any attention. I knew it was part of the whole practice, but I didn’t understand how to do it and got bored easily whenever I tried outside of class. It was a struggle for me to keep the daily practice going. I mistakenly thought I had to do 20 minutes at a time or I was not getting the full benefits. The hardest part for me was finding a time of day to practice (or meditate) consistently.  I was not an early riser, so I tried to meditate before going to bed. I quickly realized that meditating while in bed was not going to work, as I would always fall asleep! A friend of mine suggested meditating before lunch, but that did not work for me either. I would forget as soon as I walked into the teacher’s lounge and started talking with colleagues. I felt like I was never going to be able to meditate, finding time was just as hard as quietting my mind. Finally, I was able to carve out a  few minutes to myself before my yoga practice, just so that I could get into the habit of meditating.

Once I had the time set each day, I needed to set a time limit that was realistic.   Two minutes was my starting point. I totally recommend starting short and working your way up. I remember those first 2 minutes feeling like 20. Each week I would increase my time limit by one minute until I reached 10 minutes daily. I would then dedicate one day a week to a longer practice. I would not set a time, but just see how long I could sit and be present in that moment. Once I started to make it a daily habit I began to really look forward to that time of day.  I was beginning to appreciate the calm and mental focus I was noticing after meditating.

Finally I had a consistent time of day, a length of time, and quiet place to practice. I started at the yoga studio, but eventually as I started to practice more at home.  I would find a quiet space where I knew I would not be distracted. I hear from my students that this can be the hardest part for a beginner - finding the right space. If you can, try to set aside a space for just you; no phones, tv, kids, significant others, or whatever else might distract you. This can even be the same space where you practice yoga. I know being on my yoga mat really helped me at the beginning.

At first, I use a word mantra as my focus. Any word or phrase that resonates with you is perfect, it does not have to be profound or enlightening. As long as it has meaning to you that is all that matters. As my practice grew, I tried other variations of meditation; counting breaths, reciting mantras out loud, mental imagery, or guided meditations. I found it very helpful to have so many options to try until I found what would help me create a daily habit.  All the options helped me find what resonated with my body and mind.  Eventually I found my favorite when my friend introduced me to the yoga mala. It’s called Japa meditation and you use a word mantra as you count the 108 beads on the mala. I loved the sensation of holding the bead in my fingers as I breathed in and out my mantra. This has been very powerful for me and has kept my journey going.

Even if you can find time to sit for just 5 minutes daily the benefits are tremendous for you physically, mentally, and emotionally. If a daily meditation habit is something you want to cultivate in your life, take some time today by writing down and committing to; a time of day, a quiet space, and starting amount of time to dedicate towards your meditation practice. See if you can commit to one week of just focusing on your breath for those 5 minutes and see what happens from there. I hope this helps guide you on your meditation path. Enjoy the journey.