It’s 2020 and if you are reading this article you probably have been thinking about how can improve your meditation practice. Before we get started, good for you! Meditation has volumes of research backing the practice in aiding many areas of mental health, including anxiety relief, depression, mental focus and athletic performance – just to name a few! As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Improving your mediation practice can be a stepping stone to concurring other important goals and help discipline your mind. Here are four strategies that can help improve your mediation:
1) Seek Guided and Group Meditations
There are advantages to group meditation. The group dynamic allows you to share experiences with other people who have similar goals. The socialization aspect helps motivate many to return to the practice. Group settings are places where you can share common experiences about meditation struggles and tactics for overcoming barriers. Additionally, meditation groups can offer guidance through the meditation practice by talking you through focus areas and coaching on specific technique that you wouldn’t otherwise have in a home practice. Meditation centers are in abundance in just about every rural and metro location across the country. In my own town, there are several free meditation groups that meet in churches, community facilities and schools. Try several out and see which ones are right for you.
2) Use Technology
If you have a mobile device, meditation help can be right at your fingertips. There many applications that can do a variety of different meditation assistance functions. Features can include meditation tracking , meditation guidance, targeted practices based on mood, techniques, journaling, session timing and meditation music. Given that many people use their devices for completely superfluous reasons (gaming or social media) or get stressed out from their devices (work and family), perhaps using it as a tool for the benefit of you mediation practice is worth investigating.
3) Get Out
I found this to be a powerful tool in my fight against complacency. We might have that mental image of a disciplined yogi or monk meditating every day in the same location, but sometimes variety in mediation locations can be both good and healthy. Our environment can be both triggering and isolating, so feel free to try different areas out. Public parks, nature centers, hiking trails, even roof tops! Try out different locations and don’t be afraid of failure. Thanks to my own sense of adventure, I’ve found many hiking locations that are absolute bliss. When the weather is right, I hike up a big hill in a nearby park that overlooks the valley. The hill gets sun from all directions, meaning that I get some outstanding views at dawn and dusk. While I meditate, I can hear the birds chirping and feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. All these experiences contribute to the mindfulness in my meditation practice. By mixing up locations, you give your mind a new set of stimuli to reflect on as well as add an element of adventure to your mental hygiene.
4) Prioritize Mediation
This should seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many people I talk to who give me sob stories about not having time. I advocate SMART goals as a way of helping guide intentionality. A component of SMART goals is setting time to your targets so that execution becomes meaningful, which in turns promotes self-discipline. Each day, the to-do list should have a priority and a time assignment, meaning that you set the time on exactly when you will do this task and how long it will take. Meditation should always be a top priority. You can’t help others or even help yourself if your aren’t taking care of yourself FIRST. If you have ever flown on an aircraft, the first thing they tell you to do during the preflight safety talk is put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping the child. You can’t execute anything if you are unconscious. Help yourself first, make mediation the top priority and force a time to make it happen.