You’ve heard that meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve the way your brain functions and you want in. The problem is that you’re not sure how to incorporate meditation into your day-to-day life. Here are five helpful tips from meditation teacher Carolyn Anne Budgell to get you motivated for mindfulness.
1. Create an intention
Take some time to get clear on why you are meditating. Set some simple overarching goals for what you’d like to invoke or shift in your life. Perhaps you want to work on self-acceptance. Perhaps you want to treat others with more love. Perhaps you simply want to give your mind a much needed break from all that go-go-go. Each time you sit down to meditate, make it meaningful by bringing your intention to mind.
2. Design an inviting space
This part can be really fun. Carving out time to meditate is just as much of a ritual as is creating the perfect space or corner in which to do it. You can cultivate attention, awareness and reflection by designing an area that suits you for your sitting practice. Set up your space with cushions, blankets or a meditation chair that will allow you to sit comfortably. You may also want to incorporate something that inspires you to focus on your intention. This is not to say that you should always meditate in the same place every day, but an inspiring space could be the motivation you need to show up.
3. Select a style of meditation
There are many different styles of meditation. Some focus on breath. Some repeat mantra internally. Some strive to clear the mind completely. There is no one right path for everyone. Remain open to learning, try different methods of meditation and find a teacher that truly speaks to your heart.
4. Join workshops/meditation groups
Congregating in a group is a helpful way to stay committed to the intentions you set for your practice. The power in numbers can be very uplifting and inspire you to stay with it. Some collectives and groups have nights that include dialogue and discussion; a wonderful way to learn from what others experience in meditation. Group sits and workshops are also an ideal way to quickly learn the foundations of a new style of meditation.
5. Go easy on yourself
This is the most important tip for staying on this path. When life gets hectic, or when you start making excuses not to meditate, practice kindness towards yourself rather than judgment or blame. You can just pick up right where you left off. Journaling about your process, your inner shadows, your intentions and the need for softness can be eye-opening and liberating. Much of meditation is about looking deeply at the mind and befriending it. When we are hard on ourselves missing a day or two, this only perpetuates hardness and rigid patterns that we had probably set out to shift in the first place. Let go, be gentle and begin again.
Pema Chodron says, “meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.”
Carolyn Anne Budgell (BA, ERYT since 2008) is an introspective and lighthearted yoga/meditation instructor in Vancouver, BC. Founder of calm rebel meditation community and guide for international retreats and teacher trainings, Carolyn believes that growth and change is possible for everyone. Follow her: @carolynannebudgie and www.carolynannebudgell.com.
Gratitude is an attitude that can be cultivated not only around Thanksgiving for blessings in our lives, but during each moment of life — towards ourselves! Our brains are programmed to protect and to survive, and when we live a life out in the world it is nearly impossible to avoid feelings of self-judgment or unworthiness.