From ancient Buddhist philosophy to recent self-help apps; cultivating a meditation practice is advocated in all walks of life as the most powerful act of mindfulness. Plenty of studies exist to back up the claims that meditating is an effective way of switching off our rampant internal dialogues and reconnecting with a natural state of being, or inner calm.
As opposed to certain wellness initiatives, yoga for example, meditating is free, requires little specific knowledge and no fancy equipment. All you need is to dedicate time for sitting quietly with the intention of suspending noisy thoughts from your mind and focusing on the breath instead.
It's as simple as that, however it seems our busy, modern lifestyles leave little room for something that requires us to switch off; both digitally and mentally. Distractions and excuses prevail and we rarely make time to sit alone and in silence. Much to the detriment of our health.
It was recently publicised that Prince Harry himself meditates on a daily basis, so with that in mind we have a renewed sense of motivation to cultivate our own regular practice. Firstly, make sure that you have considered the following three points.
A meditation practice won't just miraculously materialise as result of you wanting it to, adequate time needs to be set aside in your daily schedule. This is often difficult given how hectic our daily lives can be, so you may need to make some changes. This could mean getting up an hour earlier, or making time before bed. It's important that the slot you choose/create is dedicated purely to your practice, as external distractions will render your efforts ineffectual. Meditating isn't something you can do whilst cooking the tea or watching TV, it requires your full, uninterrupted attention.
Another key factor in maintaining a powerful daily practice is having a designated space. It needn't be fancy, although it helps if the space reflects positive intentions and fills you with a sense of calm; just a comfortable cushion or mat on the floor (depending on your preferences) and in the most tranquil location available.
Yes, meditating has been proven to have a profound affect on our minds and bodies, however try to ditch any expectations when you meditate. Sitting in silence and shifting our focus from the thoughts to the breath requires sustained concentration. There is a fine line between that and forcing ourselves. Be gentle, be kind, but most importantly be patient; because it takes time to master and a lifetime to perfect.