Mastering your daily meditation practice

Mastering your daily meditation practice

According to a study from the European Journal of Social Psychology, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become a habit¹. That’s two months of setting phone reminders, booking classes or asking a friend to hold you accountable before it becomes second nature. But, once you get past that transition period, it’s bliss. (Something to look forward to!)

For years, people have been raving about the benefits of daily meditation, but it can be difficult to keep the fire going once you’ve created a challenge for yourself. Maybe you’ve dabbled in meditation before, and couldn’t find your groove. Or, perhaps you’re a total novice looking for a way to calm the mind, regulate your emotions or release physical tension. Whatever your goal, you can learn about the different types of meditation and their benefits below (plus tips for incorporating meditation into your conscious lifestyle).

What is meditation?

Meditation is a way of training your mind to focus and become more aware of your body and surroundings. It involves techniques like mindfulness, where you concentrate on something specific, like your breath or a mantra. 

Meditation has been practised for a long time in different religions like Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism. (In fact, the earliest records of meditation come from ancient texts called the Upanishads.) But nowadays, meditation isn’t just for spiritual purposes; it’s also used to enhance our health.

The benefits of meditation

Want to feel mentally clear, calm and more emotionally balanced? Discover the main benefits of meditation below:

1. Helps to manage stress 

Meditation is great for stress because it helps you relax, reducing the levels of stress hormones like cortisol². It encourages mindfulness, helping you let go of stressful thoughts. So, by practising meditation regularly, you can learn to manage your emotions more easily and react to difficult situations with a clear head

2. Helps to manage chronic illness

For individuals living with chronic illnesses like anxiety, chronic pain or even tension headaches, meditation can help reduce physical tension³. For anxiety, mindfulness meditation increases awareness of anxious thoughts and teaches relaxation techniques to lessen their impact. By practising techniques like progressive muscle relaxation, individuals can alleviate tension in the body, including areas prone to headaches. Overall, meditation provides a holistic approach to managing chronic illnesses by addressing both the physical and mental aspects of these conditions.

3. Helps with emotional and physical wellbeing

Meditation brings many benefits to the table! It helps us stay present, reducing negativity and boosting positivity. (Bonus – it’s also a big win for promoting creativity.) Physically, it lowers heart rate and blood pressure, promotes heart health and improves sleep quality.

Types of meditation

There are several different approaches to meditation. These methods share the common goal of cultivating tranquillity. Some common forms of meditation include:

Guided Meditation: Also known as guided imagery or visualisation, this method involves creating mental images of serene places or objects to help you feel relaxed. A guide or teacher may lead you through this process, engaging multiple senses like smell, sight, sound and touch.

Mantra Meditation: This involves repeating a soothing word, phrase or thought to deter intrusive thoughts and promote a feeling of calmness.

Mindfulness Meditation: Rooted in present awareness, mindfulness meditation is all about focussing on a single point, such as the breath, while observing thoughts and emotions as they come up.

Qigong: Drawing from Chinese medicine principles, Qigong seeks to restore and maintain balance. It is a combination of meditation, relaxation, movement and breathing exercises.

Tai Chi: A gentle form of Chinese martial arts, Tai Chi involves performing slow, graceful movements accompanied by deep breathing. This is all about fostering balance and concentration.

Yoga: Through a series of postures and controlled breathing, yoga enhances both physical flexibility and mental tranquillity. By emphasising balance and focus, yoga redirects attention from daily stressors to the present moment

Tips for getting started with meditation

1. Set a timer. If you’re starting from scratch, try to complete 5-10 minutes. You can extend this as you continue to practise.

2. Position yourself comfortably. You can sit on the floor, on a chair, or even in a kneeling position. What matters is that you are comfortable, in a position that you can stay in for a while.

3. Focus on your breathing. It's interesting that while breathing is essential for life, many of us overlook it in our daily routines. Take a moment to tune into the rhythmic flow of your breath as it enters and exits your body.

4. Know that it’s okay if your mind wanders. The beauty of the human brain is that it never really switches off (even when we’re sleeping!) Think the thoughts, notice them drifting through, then simply return your attention to your breathing.

5. Be present as you complete your practice. Once you’ve completed your session (or the timer has gone off), take a moment to open your eyes and check in on the world around you. Are there birds singing outside? Is the sun filtering through? Notice your thoughts and how you are feeling, and take time to centre yourself before continuing with your day.

Feel relaxed yet? Take your tranquillity to the next level by delving into our guide to Digital Detoxing.