How to Get Better at Meditation
How to Meditate for the Benefits (Having Healthier and Happier Lives)
When we first begin a meditation practice, it’s common to feel we’re no good at it. The mind wanders, we’re easily distracted, and we find it hard to practice daily. So, how do we get better at meditation?
Meditation is simple, but the practice is not easy. It’s challenging to make time for meditation if we aren’t yet clear about our intention for practice. And when we do take a moment to sit still and observe the mind, we find it’s quite busy! We may feel that just by trying to meditate the busy-ness of the mind gets worse. More likely, it’s that we’re finally noticing. If we can stick with the practice, we can get better at meditation over time. But what does it really mean to be good at meditation?
Our meditation progress can be measured in infinite ways. Most importantly, are we realizing benefits? The benefits of meditation include better sleep, less stress, minimized anxiety, greater emotional intelligence, improved relationships and generally healthier and happier lives.
To reap these benefits we first have to meditate. It may seem obvious, but even if we know meditation is good for us, it’s not always easy to do it. Once we make time, we need to choose a meditation technique or a guide. The best meditation guide is us, although of course, it helps to learn the fundamentals from a trusted teacher. Next, we keep practicing. Getting better at meditation is a lifelong journey.
Whether you want to know how to meditate without a guide, how to stop overthinking, or how to get into deep meditation, the following tips can help!
Tips To Help You Meditate Better
The following aren’t just tips for meditation beginners, even seasoned practitioners sometimes need reminders. In fact, it’s when our meditation practice really starts working that we often make the mistake of letting it go. But cultivating a steady, spacious mind takes ongoing practice. And so, our tips begin with advice on how to meditate every day.
- Find the right motivation
Understanding our motivation can help us practice meditation more consistently. Are we meditating for the evidence-based benefits we’ve read about, or are we seeking a spiritual meditation practice that can take us to enlightenment? It can be both.
- Set up a home meditation space
Dedicating a physical, at-home space to meditation can make it easier to just go there, sit, and practice. You need no fancy altar, artwork or incense, unless of course you want to. All that’s required is a comfortable chair or cushion in a quiet place.
- Practice first thing in the morning
There’s no single best time to meditate, but for most people, mornings have a calm and quiet energy that can be conducive to practice. It can be challenging to return to stillness once we’re up and running with the day’s work. Plus, meditating first can help pave the way for greater awareness throughout the day.
- Meditate daily, even if just for five minutes
A consistent meditation practice transforms our habits from unhelpful to beneficial ones. Meditation itself is just one skillful habit. To build this habit, consistency is more important than duration. So, if five minutes is all you can fit in, don’t let that be an excuse not to meditate.
- Meditate in bed, only if you need to
Meditation techniques for beginners often include sleep meditation. A sleep meditation practice can be beneficial, but don’t make it your only practice. Partner sleep meditations with practices that invite you to stay alert and awake.
- Choose a path and stay on it
Many people learn meditation piecemeal from multiple sources. But it is important to experience a complete, authentic meditation training if you really want to inform and advance your practice. Choosing a single path and sticking to it is just one meaning of taking refuge.
- Start with a solid foundation
The best way to begin is at the beginning, by cultivating a strong foundation. For example, mindfulness meditations help stabilize the mind, making awareness practices more accessible. There’s nothing gained by skipping ahead. If we’re not ready, we won’t have access to insight.
- Learn to overcome obstacles
There’s no doubt we will face obstacles to meditation, both during and outside formal practice. Awareness and understanding of common hindrances can help us notice them as they arise and more skillfully work to overcome them.
- Practice self-compassion
It’s a common misconception that to get better at meditation means to meditate perfectly, no longer experiencing thought, emotion or distraction during practice. But thoughts and emotions are part of life. As distractions arise, do your best to apply compassion. Observe as your relationship to distraction changes.
Getting better at meditation looks differently for everyone. But it can help to remember that ultimately, we don’t meditate to get better at meditation, but to get better at life. If you’re striving or hoping for perfection in your practice, notice if that’s making you happier. Chances are, it’s not. The best advice then, for getting better at meditation may just be to let go of the goal and relax.