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Creating a meditation routine

Don't push yourself to start meditating 30 minutes or more from day one. This is a practice that you will build over time. It is about the journey, not the destination.

Many people feel discouraged to start a meditation routine because they think they won't be able to sit still for too long and won't keep up with daily discipline.

Well, that might be true in the beginning. Meditating is something that you are not used to doing yet. You might face resistance arising from different places. You will probably feel discomfort while seated, maybe numbness on your legs or pain in your lower back. You may feel frustrated because you will catch yourself thinking about different things in the middle of your meditation. Sometimes you will be mentally checking the grocery list. Other times you will be thinking about the laundry you left in the washing machine, the email you forgot to send to your co-worker or the payment you have to do that day.

All kinds of thoughts will come to your mind. And it is totally normal. This is your mind reacting to the act of sitting still. You have to train your mind like you tame a puppy.

In yoga, we talk a lot about the monkey mind, which jumps from one thought to another as a monkey jumps from one branch of a tree to another. I also love the image of a puppy, playful and running all over the place, that needs to learn to sit still. We need to train our minds like we tame a puppy. The puppy takes some time to learn and needs continuous training in the beginning. The same happens to us. Don't think you will start meditating 30 minutes per day since day one. If you can do it, I will be very proud and happy for you, but be prepared to develop this routine with time and patience.

Meditation is a continuous process of coming back.

Be compassionate about yourself.

Each time you notice your mind wandering during your meditation, bring yourself back gently and compassionately. We tend to feel frustrated and sometimes even upset with so many distractions during our meditation. Keep in mind that this is part of the process of training the mind. I always say that the mind is like an app to produce thoughts. We have between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts per day. So this is what this "machine" does and has been doing for a long time. Changing this pattern may take some time, so don't be too hard on yourself. After all, it is about the journey, not the destination.

Use your breath as your anchor in the present moment.

The breath is the most powerful tool we have. It soothes the nervous system by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, or the "read and digest" mode. It is also a fantastic tool to bring us back to the present moment, whenever your mind thinks about past or future events. It will get you back to the now. The breath will (re)connect you to the sensations in your body, to your surroundings, to your feelings. There are several ways for you to do that: some examples are counting how many breaths you take (inhale one, exhale one, inhale two, exhale two); and counting while you inhale and exhale (inhale for the count of three, exhale for the count of three).

Be disciplined.

You have to understand that this is a practice that you will build over time. Meditation is more like a marathon, not a sprint. It is a process, and you should not be concerned about where it will end. Hopefully, it will never end. After all, this is a practice we want to keep in our lives; it is not something that we are aiming to do just for the next few weeks.

One of the most important things to build a successful meditation routine is to be disciplined. Consider that moment as essential as the time you take to shower or to have a meal. Set some time aside during your day and have this internal commitment to show up for yourself, for your well-being. Check on your phone how many hours per day you spend on social media; maybe you can take a part of this time to meditate.

Plan to meditate in the moment of the day you consider it will work best for you. Maybe a time which is more peaceful and you feel calmer and more open to the experience. I recommend early in the morning or right before bedtime; those are the moments when the mind is not too active, so it should be easier to enter a meditative state. If you are a night person, probably meditating in the morning will be best for you. I like to meditate early in the morning when I also set up my intentions for the day and pull oracle cards to give me insights and inspiration.

Create your ritual.

Create a cozy space to meditate. You can decorate with candles, flowers, gemstones, images, inspirational quotes. Use your creativity and intuition. A pleasant environment will definitely contribute to your meditation. You can use incenses, oil diffusers, music, and mantras in your ritual. Be surrounded by things you feel attracted by, and that makes you feel connected. Keep in mind that this space will get energized as you keep meditating there. It might turn into your personal sacred space in your house. You can even use this space when you feel tired, sad, or lacking energy. You might feel better just by being there.

Make yourself as much comfortable as possible. If you are experiencing back pain, sitting on a pillow will be a good idea. Lifting the hips higher than the knees typically brings more comfort to the meditative posture. Try to keep the spine as long as possible so your breath - or prana - can flow freely and effortlessly through your body. You can also meditate lying down; just be careful not to fall asleep. Make yourself warm if it is wintertime or if you tend to feel cold. The blood pressure usually decreases during mediation, and you might feel your body cooling down.

There are tools to help you.

If you still feel intimidated by the idea of sitting still by yourself, you can connect with meditation communities, online or in-person, as you feel more comfortable. You can also use apps like Insight Timer and Calm. I used both of them, and they helped me a lot in different moments of my life.

You will find out what works best for you - and it might change over time.

Trust your instinct, and things will unfold as they should. Your meditation practice will probably change over time, considering the time you will be seated meditating and the meditative practices you will be doing. Maybe, for a while, mantras chanting will soothe you best; other times, you will enjoy candle gazing or guided visualizations. Be flexible and open to following your intuition. Your inner guru will guide you and show what is best for you. All the knowledge is inside you already; you just need to reconnect and resurface it to your consciousness.

Good luck and enjoy the journey!


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