We are creatures of habit. That's why I recommend that we extend our affinity for routines into our meditative practices as well. Throughout the years, I've learned that maintaining a consistent place and time to meditate is helpful because our bodies, souls, and minds seem to respond well to this degree of commitment. It's as if we are programming our minds to know when it's time to relax, be peaceful, and meditate. In this blog post, I'll provide tips to implement regular routines in your practice.
Put Up a "Do Not Disturb" Sign
I encourage you to find a place in your home where you tell yourself, "This is where I meditate." It can be your bed, a couch, a cushion, or chair. You may even consider posting a "Do Not Disturb" sign outside the room where you meditate if there's a possibility of being interrupted as you sit. After all, you want people to respect your need to be alone and have a quiet place to sit.
Over time, you may find that it really doesn't matter where you meditate because you can plunge into the "here and now" by simply slipping on a pair of headphones and turning on relaxing music. Once you fall into the meditative zone, you may be able to ignore whatever activity surrounds you.
An additional benefit of creating a routine is that it makes meditation easier to do. Your loved ones will become used to your practice and will probably accomodate it. If they don't, try explaining how taking a few minutes to connect with yourself each day makes you a more patient and pleasant mom, dad, partner, or son or daughter. In fact, they may notice a change in you without you even having to say it.
It's best if you can sit quietly throughout your sitting practice. But it's OK if you cannot. In fact, maintaining stillness will most likely be difficult at the beginning. Before you meditate, you may find it helpful to practice a few yoga poses or simply stretch, which will help you from becoming physically restless as you sit.
Meals and Meditation
I suggest that you meditate on a relatively empty stomach. By this I'm not referring to fasting. When your stomach is full, it may not remain relaxed and quiet, and this can be a distraction. Furthermore, the mind has a harder time settling down immediately after a meal, especially if you've eaten a lot. So if possible, don't meditate right after you've eaten. A good routine is to meditate before breakfast. Afterwards, enjoy your morning meal. Then in the evening, meditate just before bed, after you've digested your dinner.
Meditation is about relaxing the mind and body. So wear what makes you feel comfortable. Loose-fitting attire is best. It's best not to wear a belt, wrist watch, or shoes because these can be restrictive on your body.
Make It a Priority
Sometimes you may need to wake up a little earlier, or stay up later in order to meditate. Over the long term, these extra few minutes each day will pale in comparison to how meditation benefits your day.
Be Open to Change
Over the years, I've adjusted the way I meditate. For a time you may enjoy guided meditations, and then you may move on to breath meditation. Maintaining a flexible attitude and experimenting with new things is key to making the practice fun and long lasting. So try different techniques, but stick with one for a while.
In sum, find a quiet comfortable place to sit, stretch before you start, don't meditate right after meals, and wear comfortable clothing. Following this formula, you're setting yourself up for a positive meditate experience; one that you'll look forward to. Over time, you'll find your meditative experience just gets better and better.