It’s no secret how much I value meditation in my wellness routine, especially TM. Meditation has an endless list of mental and physical health benefits; it’s known to help manage stress and anxiety, improve mental clarity and boost mood. TM in particular can even change the structure of your brain for the better. (Definetly check out TBF episode with Emily Fitz Randolph, certified TM teacher and Co-Director of the Santa Monica TM center, where we talk about all things TM and its effects on the mind, body, anxiety and aging!)
Just like all things, meditation takes practice, and it doesn’t always come easily. In fact, meditation can be notoriously difficult, even for those who have been practicing for years. I make it a point to include meditation in both my morning and nighttime routine. It might sound obvious, but meditation only works when we commit to actively engaging in it. The mind is like an ocean; very active and busy at the surface but very quiet and calm down in the depths. Our mind has all these layers but we experience most of life up on the surface (making lists, plans and decisions, communicating, always going, etc.). TM helps my mind go beyond this busy level, and my thoughts naturally start to quiet and settle. There are a lot of guidelines for how to meditate, which can be overwhelming if you’re newer to the practice because there are also guidelines for what NOT to do in meditation. The common pitfalls that can keep you from experiencing the full benefits of meditation can include:
-Engaging in a power struggle with your thoughts
-Grading your meditations
-Being inconsistent with your practice
-Looking for perfection
-Treating it like an emergency room
-Going in with a mental to-do list
This one might sound contradictory, but trying too hard is another common pitfall that can cause roadblocks in your practice. Meditation works a lot better the less you do; it’s not about adding things to your practice but rather learning how to be still in the present moment. Surrendering to stillness can feel unnatural and unsettling at first, which is why we tend to engage in power struggles with our thoughts and try really hard to focus. Being still and present is just as much of a skill as meditating. I like to think of it as stripping away the unnecessary things; removing the focus, the concentration, releasing my need for control and so on.
Maintaining a daily meditation practice is also easier said than done. Setting yourself up for a regular and consistent practice will ensure that you reap all the benefits. Here are some tips on how you can stay on track with your meditation practice:
-Meditate first thing in the morning if possible
-Prioritize meditation in your wellness routine
-Keep it familiar (thinking “same time, same place” can help you turn your practice into a habit)
-Be flexible with your meditation routine (not every day is going to look the same)
-Try to be less judgmental about your meditation
-Invite a friend to hold each other accountable
-Manage your expectations (meditation is about the long-term benefits vs. the short-term!)
Do you have trouble staying on track with your meditation practice? I’d love to hear your tips!
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