Meditation has tons of benefits but sometimes it can feel like you’re not seeing them. It’s pretty easy to feel like you’re not getting anywhere with your practice. So try the following ways to enhance your practice and see if you get anything more from it.
Life is full of responsibilities and sometimes our meditation practice gets set aside in favor of getting more done that we “should” be doing. We might skip it completely, or just push it off to later in the day.
A consistent practice helps ensure better results. But consistency is about more than just meditating daily. You should also strive to meditate at the same time every day — early morning or right before bed are two excellent times that make it a little more difficult to put off. Another consistency that can benefit you is meditating in the same location every day. Changing it up now and then is nice, but your mind and body will become accustomed to the soothing peace and calm of meditation in the same place and begin to react as soon as you enter your space.
Lengthen your sessions
You should keep your meditation sessions within a comfortable time frame — what feels good to you. But if you consistently meditate for 10 minutes a day, why not try 15 or 20?
Another option is making time for one longer session per week. This single longer session can help you deepen your practice further. You might be surprised at how much more relaxed you are or how much more inner peace you find from a longer session.
Don’t make this a “make up” session, though. Don’t skip your usual shorter daily practice and tell yourself that you’ll make it up with the longer session. That defeats the purpose.
It’s fine to have an intention for your meditation — to reduce stress, to sleep better, etc. But try to avoid having expectations of exactly how it should go or what the results should look like. The truth is, sometimes the results aren’t as big as we might like or the practice doesn’t quite go the way we wanted.
The disappointment that comes from that can discourage you from continuing to try. Instead, try to avoid having any expectations. Sit down with the thought that whatever happens, happens. Walk away from your meditation knowing that whatever happened, and whatever results you attained, are exactly the ones that were meant to occur.
Don’t meditate when you’re exhausted
There’s an obvious reason for this: you’ll likely fall asleep mid-session.
But there’s another less obvious reason. If you’re tired, it’s much harder to remain focused. Your thoughts will wander, your emotions may be more easily triggered, and the physical sensations of exhaustion will make you fidgety and/or less likely to sit properly.
If you’re really tired, skip your practice until you’ve had some sleep. The benefits of sleep will help you more than any meditation when you’re really exhausted.
While we’re on the “don’t meditate when” topic, you might also skip it immediately after a heavy meal or if you’re in severe pain. While meditation can help ease pain, the pain can also distract you from your meditation. Use your own judgment to decide when these apply — but be honest with yourself.
Meditate throughout the day instead of just once
Many people meditate just once a day and call it done. There’s nothing wrong with this. Some schedules simply don’t permit multiple meditations, and some people just aren’t interested in doing it more than once.
But doing several short meditations throughout the day can help you keep the feelings of peace, relaxation and happiness going. It can also help you manage your emotions better, think more clearly, and get more done.
You can simply choose random moments to meditate. You can also choose specific times to take a meditation break, such as right after a big meeting or before starting a major task. Or you can simply set a few reminders on your phone for set times.
If you have kids, you’ve had your meditation interrupted at least once. Even if you don’t have kids, you’ve forgotten to silence your phone and had someone call or text you or had someone knock on your door.
Interruptions happen. But you can manage them as much as possible. You can post a sign on your door letting people know not to knock. Silence or turn off your phone. Wait until the kids are in bed or down for a nap or at school. Let others in the house or office know you’ll be meditating and ask them not to disturb you.
And if you do get interrupted, just try to close your eyes and get back to it as quickly as you can. If you must, start over later.
Try a group meditation
Have you ever gone to a meditation class? Or met up with a meditation group? Or even just meditated with one other person?
There’s a different energy to meditating with others. There’s a certain “peer pressure” that keeps you more accountable. There’s also a different awareness and appreciation of meditation when you realize that all these other people are focusing on the same thing you are.
You don’t have to do a group meditation every time. But every now and then, it can provide a nice change of pace and really enhance your practice.
Take it with you
Meditation is much more than just the few minutes you spend with your eyes closed. It’s the feelings those few minutes inspire. It’s the way you see things differently. It’s the refreshment and energy that comes from it.
Those things aren’t limited to the time on your cushion. Take your time as you finish your meditation. Open your eyes slowly. See the world anew. Embrace the feelings of wonder, enlightenment, interest, love, peace, or relaxation. Take those feelings with you out into the world. Share them with others.
Meditation is meant to enhance your life, and by taking a few simple steps to make your meditation even better, you can make a difference across all areas of your life.