What changes would you like to see in your meditation practice in the New Year (if any)? Perhaps you might want to make your practice more consistent, make your sessions longer (or even shorter and more concentrated). Maybe you simply need to start a daily/weekly practice?
You don’t need to be a yogi to reap the benefits of meditation. Just 10 – 20 minutes a day can have a tremendous impact on your inner health and wellbeing.
When it comes to choosing a regular practice, it can help to be a bit relaxed about which technique you practice. For instance, there’s no reason why you can’t resolve to practice meditating on the breath for one day and meditate on loving-kindness the next. There’s no hard and fast rules about which techniques you need to practice and when. You can be your own inner guide and decide which practice is best for you on any given day. Just try to be committed to the practice though, and avoid the monkey mind that doubts your practice, technique or whether you’re making best use of your time. If you are meditating, then rejoice in your determination, discipline and keep your mind focused on the technique for the whole of the session. So if you resolve to practice Shamatha breathing meditation, then avoid being distracted by thoughts like ‘maybe I should be doing loving-kindness meditation instead’.
Once you know which meditation practice you want to do (e.g. breathing, walking or loving-kindness meditation), it’s important to gauge your concentration levels and adjust your technique (within that practice) according to how your session is going. So if your mind is very distracted, then instead of trying to meditate solely on the breath, try employing a counting technique to help ‘reel in’ your mind. Or if you’re having trouble generating loving-kindness to a particular subject, then return to one you found it easier cultivating loving-kindness towards.
We need to have the pliancy of mind to adapt our session to counter the obstacles that arise (e.g. distraction, dullness or lack of motivation, etc.). Having mindfulness is what helps us to know when to employ more effort, or ease off and not be so rigid and tense. When we have mindfulness we are more in control. It’s like knowing where the gearbox is. We can adjust our techniques in order to increase or decrease our effort and concentration within each session.
While it can take time to cultivate greater mindfulness in our practice so we have more control in every session, we can at least control our intentions about our meditation practice. In order to initiate change in our practice, it can help to make small resolutions, since all our behavior is first preceded by a thought and an intention. So why not set some positive intentions for your practice for the New Year in the hope that those seeds will flourish.
So what is your resolution for the coming year? Let me know in the comments below. Say it out loud even! Let’s see if we can get these wheels in motion.
Some guided meditations you can practice:
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