Tips to establish a meaningful meditation practice
Whether you have a regular meditation practice or not, the following tips can help you to establish one or find comfort, ease and support in your practice to get more depth and meaning to reap the benefits.
1. Be comfortable. Find a position that suits your body, but also enables you to be alert and
aware while you are meditating. There is no need to hold painful postures that cause great
irritation and frustration. If sitting on the floor, use cushions or props to bring the hips higher
than the knees. Sit on a chair or use a stool if that’s easier. You can lay down too, but if you
find that you consistently fall asleep, then it’s probably more useful for you to sit, however
it’s a good indicator that you need more rest in your life so take heed!
2. Create a habit. Whether it’s the moment you wake up or just before you sleep, it’s a great
idea to establish a regular time or routine for your practice so that you remember it in the
same way that you remember to clean your teeth or go to bed. Some days will inevitably be
busier than others (that’s life), but it doesn’t mean you have to give up the habit. Just get up
earlier, or find an alternative time in the day when you can do it; on the bus, in a waiting
room, whilst walking or simply take some regular mini intervals to breathe consciously. It
doesn’t matter if you meditate for 10 minutes or 60, the point is to do it regularly in order to
train the mind and experience the benefits.
3. Offer yourself compassion. There will be days when you really don’t want to do it; these are
usually the days when you need it most! So go easy on yourself, be patient and tolerant of
your busy and distracted mind. Use a counted method to draw attention to your breath and
each time you lose count, just notice that the mind and has wandered and come back to one
again. Even if you just consciously breathe for a few minutes, it will really help to reset your
mind and give it a little well needed space. It is near impossible to clear the mind
completely, so just reassure yourself that each time you notice your attention has waned,
you have been mindful! Then gently steer your attention back to the breath and start again.
4. Add variety. Some days I can sit for hours in silent meditation, others I need a guided audio
track to support my practice and help me get to that place of stillness. Mix it up and find
what kind of meditation resonates with you on that particular day, depending on how you
feel and what your needs are. If the mind is particularly busy, you may find a guided
visualisation or a mantra useful to direct your attention and energy. A mantra doesn’t have
to be in Sanskrit, you can pick something that is meaningful to you, such as ‘happiness’ or
‘stillness’ or perhaps a phrase such as ‘I radiate peace or health’.
5. Use a mudra. A mudra is a gesture, often with hands, that creates an energetic circuit within
the body. Various mudras can have different effects on your energy levels or mood. The
most popular ones are:
- chin mudra, which is a symbol of unity and connection with higher consciousness. Bring the index and thumb fingers to touch palms facing up and hands resting on knees or lap. To feel grounded and stable, turn palms down.
- A mudra to help the mind come to a place of calm and contemplation is dhyana mudra; hold one hand on top of the other, both palms face up, right on left for ladies, left on right for men. Thumb tips to touch.
- The third is lotus mudra which is done by connecting the edges of the hands together, including thumb and pinky finger edges with the fingers spread in the gesture of an offering at the heart. This brings forth loving kindness and compassion and represents personal transformation, dissolving negative energy into positive.
Practice a mudra for at least 5 minutes daily to enjoy the benefits.
6. Find your tribe. Join up with a local group to practice meditation together and share your
experiences, insights, challenges and inspirations. It is so wonderful to connect with a community of like-minded souls; it makes your practice more meaningful, supports you with
motivation and shared learnings and also cultivates a stronger connection energetically in
7. Watch your diet. According to Ayurveda, different foods have different effects on both our
body and mind. Ayurveda teaches us that there are three different kinds of foods: tamasic,
rajasic and sattvic. Tamasic foods can leave us feeling tired and groggy while rajasic foods
can make us hyper. Sattvic foods, on the other hand, have a calming and balancing effect.
- Tamasic foods are rich or heavy such as: meats or stale and leftover foods.
- Rajasic foods include caffeine, sugar and certain stimulating spices.
- Sattvic foods are fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grass-fed dairy.
When you start to cultivate a daily or regular practice of meditation you will notice how
different foods affect you mind, body and energy levels. If you want to get a deeper sense of
connection and ease with your meditation practice, then move towards eating more sattvic
foods and less rajasic and tamasic.