10 Easy Steps To Establishing a Daily Meditation Practice.

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Ah, meditation.

Like all the other shoulds and musts in life, it’s hard to make it a daily habit. We are so burdened by the laundry list of our day to day responsibilities, the thought of adding one more thing is enough to make our brains explode and our bodies march over to the nearest source of ice cream and start scooping.

We are busy. Who has the time to sit for 10 minutes every single day and do “nothing”?

Well, first of all, we do a lot of nothing already, so if you’re cutting into your Facebook or your television time, you’ll probably be okay. I don’t say this derogatorily—I was on Facebook moments ago, and I was most certainly not meditating.

But, as the saying goes, “Everyone should meditate for at least 10 minutes a day. Those who are too busy, should meditate for an hour.”

Thank you, Buddhism, for yet another lucid catchphrase.

More importantly, though, meditating is unlike any of the other “chores” we do, in that it is the exact opposite of work. If you begin to look at your meditation time as a mini-vacation, you’ll have a lot more success in your practice.

People can be quite mystified by meditation, and often wonder if they are doing it “right.”There are conflicting schools of thought on this, and many different styles of practice.

For my money, though, the simplest way is often the best and has all the benefits of any other method. Ten minutes a day of mindful sitting (or lying down) will buy you centeredness, self awareness, peace and compassion. Not a bad deal.

Here’s how:

1) Find a place.

It doesn’t have to be a special place (though it can be– I have a shrine set up in my closet with my favorite Buddha and some embroidered pillows and prayer flags and such.) It just has to be a place where you can shut the door and be comfortable for ten minutes.

If you have kids like me, consider making a sign to put on the door of this place reading “Do not disturb.” Then make a pact with yourself never to open that door while meditating unless the house is literally burning down.

2) Have a timer.

I use my cell phone. The last thing you want while meditating is to succumb to the compulsion to peek at the clock. There are lovely ringtones you can download so your alarm isn’t jarring. I recommend one with Tibetan singing bowls. In a pinch, a cheap kitchen timer will do.

3) Have a time.

Pick a time of day when you are most likely to consistently sit. Many people say you must meditate in the morning. Hogwash. Meditate any time that makes sense for you.

4) Write it down.

Make an appointment with yourself for your meditation until it becomes a habit.

5) Sit (or lie down).

Sitting is preferable if you tend to fall asleep as soon as you lie down, but if you have back problems or other issues, lying down is fine as long as you stay awake. Make sure you can remain comfortably in whatever posture you choose for ten minutes. Leaning against a wall or sitting in a straight backed chair is fine, as is sitting on a cushion or folded blanket. Experiment. See what works for you.

6) Close your eyes.

Feel the automatic shift in perception the moment your eyes close. Take a “look” around inside your body. Move from the face to the neck, to the chest, the belly, the arms and hands, the knees and the feet, relaxing each part as you go. Notice any tension in the body and try to release it. Let your facial expression be neutral, except perhaps for a tiny Buddha smile on your mouth. That tiny smile is the fastest way to soften the face and the mind.

7) Focus on your breath.

Feel the air entering and leaving the nostrils. Notice the belly rise and fall. Any time your mind wanders, and it will, acknowledge the intrusive thought by labelling it. You can label it with an emotion (fear, confusion, happiness) or with a noun (work, family, plans). Then let it go and return to the breath.

8) Repeat step 7 for 10 minutes.

9) Turn off your timer.

Once you’ve turned it off close your eyes again for a few moments as you reflect on your meditation and how it made you feel. Take some deeper breaths here and feel yourself transition from a meditative state to a more conscious state.

10) Give thanks.

In many ways the most important part of meditating is taking the opportunity to express gratitude daily. I believe the key to happiness is simple; cultivating and living with a profound appreciation for all that we are given. Getting into a habit of expressing thanks actually rewires your thinking and will change your life.

Good luck and happy sitting!


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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Erica Leibrandt

Erica Leibrandt is a licensed mental health clinician, certified yoga instructor, and mother to six heathens who masquerade as innocent children. If she occasionally finds herself with a fried egg on her plate or dancing until dawn, she asks that you not judge her. Life is short, she knows the chicken that laid the egg, and we can never dance too much. Connect with Erica on Facebook and Twitter. And visit her website.

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anonymous Feb 20, 2016 2:12am

I have little practice with meditation, but I find that I’m scared of it (my head and thoughts can be overwhelming, and I’m scared of everything) I have a terrible past and I feel dredging it up it and dealing with it will help get past, it, I’ve heard meditation can do that. Anyways, my question is do you have any suggestions on how to get past the being scared part?

anonymous Aug 10, 2015 1:10pm

A good sign that you are not getting enough sleep is that you find yourself nodding off during meditation. I find meditation quite different than sleep, but nearly as restful.

anonymous Jan 27, 2014 6:32pm

hello. can you choose to stand rather than sit or lie down? I frequently find standing easier.

anonymous Sep 23, 2013 5:33am

Yeah everyone is busy with their work and there in zero exercise. Due to new technology, people feel lazy to walk. Apparently it is effective our health badly. To overcome this, the best home remedy it the yoga. Even i am doing yoga in the morning to relief from backbone pain.

anonymous Sep 20, 2013 4:47pm

what caught my eye is that you have 6 children?! i have two. are you wonderwoman? 😀

    anonymous Sep 26, 2013 1:07pm

    Nope, I'm half crazy. But only half, thanks to Yoga and meditation 🙂

anonymous Sep 20, 2013 4:09pm

I've taken all these steps, but my problem is having the motivation to stick with it!

    anonymous Sep 26, 2013 1:06pm

    That is the hard part! But they say after doing something for two or three weeks consistently, a habit is established making it much easier. So maybe get very strict with yourself for that amount of time and see where it leads you. Good luck and don't give up!

anonymous Sep 19, 2013 7:26pm

And thank you for your insight. I have a feeling we could be friends 🙂

anonymous Sep 19, 2013 3:05pm

Hi Erica,
Thank you for the response as it cleared things up a bit. I think anytime we can encourage others in thier process of self inquiry and point toward the freedom that is not somewhere else, but right here right now, we are doing the world a great service. So on behalf of the world, thank you for your service Erica…



anonymous Sep 19, 2013 6:21am

I appreciate your thoughtful comment, and was hesitant when I wrote that phrase, truth be told. I chose to stick with it for two reasons; 1) I felt that it could be compelling enough an idea to get a non-meditator who might feel intimidated by this intense activity to just give it a try and 2) it is a vacation in the sense that it removes you from all the other regular activities of your life and provides great perspective upon your return. Though meditation is indeed hard work, the result is a feeling of profound peace, as is the result of a true vacation. Meditation is clearly not an "escape from", but a "moving toward", but I maintain that anything that interrupts the mindlessness that we can often slip into day to day is the real meaning of getting away…so that we can find ourselves when we come home.

anonymous Sep 18, 2013 7:37pm

Thank you for this wonderful article. I do have a question. Do you feel that the idea that meditation is like a mini vacation is an accurate experience for most meditators? It has not been mine. If you are meditating in order to detach or escape from something you are, and I say this from a place of total humility and respect, missing the point entirely. Seems to me that this popular idea promotes a type of practice that sort of feels like "retail meditation" to me. Believing that you can and do escape from the world by sitting and doing nothing for 10 mins (or an hour) only creates aversion and ignites the ego into creating a needy attachment to meditation. To be used as an way to check out; Like drugs and alcohol. Don't get me wrong I KNOW the world would be a better place if everyone was addicted to meditation, but not this kind. Not the kind where you watch your breath and "break out" of your life,. But the kind where sit down, keep quiet and break in.

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