How to Grow a Meditation Practice

Meditation: Meeting Yourself and The Structure

Starting a meditation practice doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. The key is to meet yourself where you are at.

That means that if the thought of doing a 7 minute meditation feels like it’s asking too much of you right now, then it is asking too much of your right now. You need an alternative, a modification, a (much) simpler option. And if the thought of doing a 7 minute meditation sounds easy and you are motivated for it, then that means you are motivated for it. Both are completely okay and valid. And you can start a meditation practice from both of these points. You don’t have to wait until you feel like the latter.      

How do I know that? Well, I was the first-case scenario. If you read my introduction blog, you’ll notice that I started a meditation practice using the guided meditations on the Headspace App when I was a −1 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being optimal physical, mental and emotional health). This meant that while I logically wanted to do meditation, logically understood how it could benefit me, logically had all the good intentions to do it, I was emotionally and mentally resistant and overwhelmed by the effort I felt it would take. So I met myself where I was and this is what that looked like for me:

I made a deal with myself that I would celebrate any whisper of inclination to meditate. So when I was laying in bed, curled up in my blankets, thinking “it might be good to do a meditation” but didn’t attempt to do anything about that thought, I would praise myself with “Good Job! You thought about it!” instead of calling myself lazy.

After a while, I could feel a shift in my mindset - away from defeatist and towards encouraged - and eventually I negotiated with myself to let a 3 minute Headspace App meditation run next to me while I was in bed. I just let it play in the background, my mind somewhere else. I had no expectations of myself of actually doing it and that lowered the barrier.

It made me feel less apprehensive. After a few more times of this arrangement, I felt comfortable with doing parts of the guided meditation. I gave myself permission to ignore anything that felt like too much. For example, the instructions would specify how to sit or how to lay down. I flat out ignored that. My belief is that it’s better to do a meditation in whatever pose you want or are in, than not to do the meditation at all. Listen to yourself and your body.

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Over time, I was drawn to do longer meditations and to do them more frequently. Eventually, I set a goal of meditating for 30 days straight. Then 90 days straight. After which it started to feel like a regular thing to do. To this day, I still meditate in whatever pose feels most easy to me and I still meet myself where I’m at. Somedays I do 20 minutes, others I do 3 minutes. It just depends on how I’m feeling. It all counts and the consistency of the practice is more important than the length of it.

After 1.5 years, I am still and will always be working on my practice. This is not failure, this is exactly the nature of growing, maintaining and nurturing a practice. For example, while I know that meditating at the same time each day is considered better, I’m just not there yet. I meditate daily but I have a hard time sticking to the same time. That’s okay. And when something shaky happens in my life, I tend to let go of the practice and skip days. Yes, yes, I understand that this might technically be when I “should” be leaning on meditation to help me but sometimes I need my other mental health tools, such as my internal resource team, to get me through the tough day or week (more on this on an upcoming blog!)

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Now let’s talk about structure. As you read above, my personal structure heavily relies on a phone app that I use at home. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, below are more options to start building a structure for your own meditation practice. Feel free to mix-and-match!  

  • Get a friend involved. Just like a gym buddy, setting time aside for when you meet a friend at the park or in the breakroom at work or anywhere else you two are comfortable, can help you start a meditation practice and stay consistent.

  • Instead of setting specific time aside, associate it with a daily activity. Something like your morning coffee. As you grab your cup, before you do whatever you were about to do (check your email, watch a Youtube video, scroll Instagram), do a breathing meditation and then move on to the activity you were about to do.

  • Set aside specific time to meditate at home but unlike my structure, choose not to use technology or other external guides.

Next week’s blog will cover the different types of meditations - from guided to sound to breathing techniques - so that you can start mixing and matching different meditations and structures to build a practice that is the best and most helpful to you.

Regardless of what structure and types of meditations you choose, meet yourself where you are at everyday. And modify whatever meditation rule you feel is getting in your way of starting.

Now, let’s take a deep breath in... and out... Imagine yourself as your friend and give yourself a warm, loving hug by wrapping your hand around your arms and gently squeezing yourself, lifting the corners of your mouth. Tell yourself - I love you. A small act of love towards yourself.  


Till next time.

Wishing you joy, safety and ease.

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Anna

Anna is a blog contributor, meditation leader and teacher, and photographer. You can follow her on Instagram @skillsforwellness and find her blogging away at reset brain + body. reset brain + body is a mental wellness practice where traditional talk therapy is elevated through the integration of meditation, nutrition, yoga and mindfulness. Connect with reset brain + body on Instagram & Facebook, check out the class schedule, or contact us to book an appointment.