Many people rely on daily readings and meditation to help them maintain balance and a healthy spiritual life. Those who adhere to a religious tradition have sacred texts that can inspire and guide them throughout the day. The Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Quran, and Hindu and Buddhist scripture are the bases for the faith of many people throughout the world. There are innumerable other sources of inspiration out there, passed down by wise women and men who walked the talk and were willing to give expression to their experiences so that others may benefit.
It’s important to note that “spiritual” does not necessarily mean “religious.” Many people who consider themselves “spiritual” devote time and energy to developing their spirituality without adhering to a particular religious group. There are readings for them as well, and they are apt to find inspiration in the teachings of non-dogmatic faith traditions like Buddhism.
Whether you subscribe to a particular faith or not, there’s always something you can do to boost your spiritual connections. Integrating a reflective reading and period of contemplation into your daily meditation practice is one of the best ways to do this.
Benefits of daily contemplation and meditation
If you ask how often do you need to meditate, the answer depends on you, but long-term practitioners universally agree that daily meditation is important. Your daily practice gives you access to many of the remarkable benefits of meditation. How?
- It helps you relax and relieves anxiety and stress
Practicing mindfulness meditation allows you to process negative thoughts much better. Rather than fixating on a challenging situation and getting stuck, you’ll have acquired the tools to become calmer and more focused. By beginning your practice session with a reading and short period of contemplation, your mind is settled and fresh. In fact, there’s no better way to relieve anxiety and stress than reading a passage from a book that inspires you, then reflecting on it and meditating.
- It becomes an everyday practice
Finding time to read and contemplate, then maintaining your focus during meditation might be a tad challenging initially. But research has shown that a daily practice of just a few minutes leads to improved concentration and helps you learn to work with negative thoughts in a positive way. If you’re in need of inspiration, the resources on the Mindworks App can help. Begin your session with a Mindworks Daily Cup contemplation, then listen to one of your favorite teachers as they guide you through your daily meditation.
- It helps when times are tough
People who practice mindfulness meditation experience a sense of well-being, peace and calmness that they can call upon when they need it most. The daily readings serve as a source of inspiration and comfort. With each breath, mindfulness underscores the truth that everything in our lives changes. Awareness of impermanence allows us to fully enjoy the good times and helps us cope with challenges. By being present in the here and now, we’re able to recognize the blessings in little things that we normally take for granted – sunshine, a fresh breeze, the smile of a stranger and so on – even when times are tough.
- All those health benefits
A lot of research seems to suggest that meditation offers an assortment of health benefits, including regulating heart rate, boosting metabolism, reducing cholesterol, regulating blood pressure and improving quality of sleep. There are psychological benefits as well: on average, meditators claim to be happier, less reactive and more focused. Learn more about all those health benefits of meditation.
How to practice daily contemplation and meditation
Beginning a daily meditation with readings is pretty straightforward. Here are some tips:
- Choose a reading that suits your mood and goals. A poem, short essay, paragraph or page will do – you are setting the scene for meditation, not replacing it.
- In meditation, consistency is super important and will determine the quality of your practice. Use your contemplation to encourage a regular practice that you can look forward to every day.
- Choose a reliable reminder and time. You could decide to practice daily reading and meditation when you wake up in the morning or in the evening after the day’s work is done. Like many people, you may find that sitting in the morning is best, as you are fresh and awake and can look forward to experiencing the benefits of your practice all day long. Use a regular habit as a reminder, such as contemplating and meditating after you’ve brushed your teeth or had your morning coffee, or before you retire for the night.
- Find your quiet place. This is a key step if you want your daily meditation and readings to be effective. Ideally you’ll have a dedicated corner in your home, workplace or garden where you’re reasonably sure you won’t be disturbed. Decorate it with objects – religious, spiritual, personal – that contribute to making it your place of peace and reflection.
- Sit comfortably. It doesn’t really matter what you sit on or how you sit – what’s important is that you’re comfortable and your back is as straight as it can be without undue strain. See here for more information about posture options for your meditation-contemplation.
- Now read your passage and spend some minutes in settled contemplation. How do the words make you feel? What do they inspire in you? Do they help get you to your quiet place? Do they connect you with something greater? Open your heart and follow your inspiration for a time.
- Now focus on mindful breathing. Pay close attention to your breath. When your thoughts wander, instead of rejecting or clinging to them, simply take notice and bring your attention back to your breathing. This attention is the heart of meditation.
With practice, your daily meditations will become increasingly profound and enjoyable.