3 Tips to Get Meditation to Actually Work
THE specific BLOG
Dr. Alex Mosley
Owner and Clinic Director
Mindfulness? More like MindFULLness.
You know what is one of the most frustrating things I could ever be asked? To meditate.
So you can imagine how I felt when I was publicly challenged in a mastermind group to meditate every day for 30 days.
In case you can’t relate, I’ll tell you. I felt exasperated and downright annoyed.
Here’s the thing. I know the research behind meditation. I know how helpful it is for growth, healing, stress management, etc., and I actually believe the research!
Meditation is something that’s been around since ancient times and currently, it’s a widely studied topic with scientists doing their best to validate why the practice has such benefits. Studies have shown participants reporting increases in focus and concentration, peace, happiness, clarity, and energy. There’s even physical benefits with some studies showing a decrease in blood pressure, anxiety, illness, and better sleep quality.
I mean, all of that sounds fantastic, and personally, I would take a second or third helping.
So what’s the deal, right? Why does meditation and practicing mindfulness annoy me so much?
The problem is…
I fall asleep every single time I meditate.
Sounds silly, I know. But here’s the other thing; on the spectrum of go-with-the-flow and perfectionism, I tend to drastically lean to the side of perfectionism.
Type-A control freaks are my people. I am the real life Hermione.
Falling asleep during meditation can only mean I am bad at meditation and most definitely doing it WRONG.
To a [recovering] perfectionist, this is the ultimate agony. Being bad. Getting it wrong. Failure.
Obviously, the only solution was to refuse the challenge and not waste my time with something I already know doesn’t work for me.
But honestly, I simply did NOT want to be that person with that mindset. I understand that I am the common denominator in this situation. It works for thousands and thousands of people; I’m not special enough to be the one person that can’t seem to find any benefit from a practice with so many of them.
So I said YES!
*cue the applause*
If you’re like me, you’ve tried meditating more times than you can count. You’ve probably downloaded a few apps, like Headspace or Calm, and even though you don’t use them, they’re still downloaded on your phone gathering cloud dust. Maybe you’re more concerned about “doing it right” than you are about actually doing it at all. Or maybe, you just don’t know where to start.
The fact of the matter is, there’s a bajillion ways to go about being mindful, and really, none of them are wrong. Everyone practices mindfulness unique to themselves and success is relative.
Because of that, I’ve listed 3 tips I picked up on my “30 Days of Meditation” journey that may help you on yours.
We’re working on building a daily habit here. The best way to make something stick is to start small. Meditate for 2 minutes, not 20. The best way to create a habit is to stack it onto something you already have a daily habit of doing. Maybe you choose to try meditating right before you brush your teeth or while you’re waiting for the coffee to brew. Or you could add it into part of your wind-down routine before you go to bed. Whatever you choose, start with creating space to actually perform the task you’re trying to do. This means just meditate for a short window of time and build up to a longer one once your habit is ingrained. It’s hard to fall asleep in 2 minutes.
Use a guide.
Apps really are great. Headspace is my personal choice and worth the money if you’re going to actually get serious about this. Not only does the app tell you exactly what to do, it sends you reminders, inspirational quotes, and keeps track of goals you set. The app holds your hand through the entire process, but what I love most about it is you can choose meditations for any amount of time and most of them are guided. I found guided meditations very useful for my brain that doesn’t shut off. It gave me direction and instructions to focus on, which also helped with keeping me awake. When in a pinch or feeling anxious during the day, I started using my Fitbit watch. The watch comes with an app called ‘Relax’ that vibrates along with your breathing for 2 minutes or 5 minutes. Simple but powerful.
Sit up straight.
This single handedly revolutionized my meditation practice. Now for some, sitting up straight while meditating may be common sense. For me, the person who tried to start a morning meditation practice for 20 minutes before she got out of bed, it was not. I fell asleep, but no surprises there. Even when I moved to sitting on the couch, I fell asleep. Then I tried sitting cross-legged on the floor, very zen-like. But still, I fell asleep. Finally, I moved to a straight-backed chair that fit just right. Call me Goldilocks! My back was supported, my knee joints were at ninety degrees, and my feet lay perfectly flat on the ground (an important concept in meditation for grounding – go figure). In the right chair with the right posture, I could relax without falling asleep.
Of course, there’s more to this, and I still can’t say I’m a meditation fanatic.
However, I’m writing a blog about it, so I can say that I’m sleeping better, have more energy, feel more calm throughout my day, AND I can now meditate without falling asleep!!!
Just like I was challenged, I would like to challenge YOU.
Obviously, if you’re reading this, meditation is something you’ve been toying with.
I invite you to try it for 30 days.
Start with 2 minutes per day.
Use a guide, even if it’s just on your Fitbit watch.
Sit up straight.
And lastly, don’t forget to document your progress! That way you’ll have some sort of measurement to see how it’s working in your life.
Good luck, team!
Cheers in health,