Meditate Better: Effective Results

how to get effective results out of meditation

Meditation is a practice that offers a wide range of benefits, from reducing stress levels and improving focus to helping us connect better with ourselves and others. While the idea of meditation may seem simple, achieving a meditative state can be challenging, especially for those with busy minds. Here are some tips to help you get effective results from your meditation practice:

- Create a consistent schedule: Try to meditate at the same time and place each day. Morning meditation is ideal as it sets a peaceful tone for the day.

- Create a meditative space: Dedicate a peaceful and quiet space for your practice, free from distractions and disturbances.

- Meditate with others: Consider meditating with a partner or joining a class to amplify your experience and hold you accountable.

- Meditate to a recording: Guided meditations can be helpful, especially for overthinkers, as they provide a focal point and prevent intrusive thoughts.

- Start with breathwork: Focus on your breath. Controlled breathing has a calming effect on the nervous system and can help still the mind.

- Be kind to yourself: It's normal to have wandering thoughts during meditation. Don't judge yourself or try to forcefully suppress these thoughts. Instead, gently bring your attention back to your breath.

Characteristics Values
Time of day Morning is recommended, but choose a time that works for you and stick to it
Location Choose a quiet, calm place, but it can be anywhere you won't be disturbed
Posture Sit in a comfortable position, it doesn't have to be cross-legged
Breathing Focus on your breath, but don't try to alter it
Mindset Be comfortable with discomfort, don't judge yourself, and be kind to your wandering mind
Routine Create a consistent schedule and commit to sitting every day
Accountability Meditate with others or with an accountability partner
Guidance Try pre-recorded guided meditations or meditation apps
Movement Try yoga, tai chi, qigong, or walking meditation
Senses Focus on your less dominant senses, such as touch, smell, and taste

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Create a consistent schedule

Creating a consistent schedule is a crucial aspect of establishing a successful meditation practice. Consistency is key to reaping the full benefits of meditation and making it a lasting habit. Here are some tips to help you create a consistent meditation schedule:

Choose a Regular Time

Selecting a fixed time of day is an essential step in training your brain to prepare for meditation. While early mornings are ideal as it sets the tone for the day, you can choose any time that suits your daily routine. The most important thing is to stick to the chosen time. Psychotherapist Haley Neidich affirms that "consistent daily practice is a way to see the biggest mental health benefits from meditation."

Make it a Daily Habit

Meditation should become a part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth. It is a practice that requires commitment and discipline. While you don't have to be overly strict with the timing, try to maintain regularity. If you can't meditate every day, aim for a consistent number of days per week.

Create a Dedicated Space

Having a specific place for meditation helps signal to your brain that it's time to relax and focus. This space should be calm and quiet and free from distractions. It can be a corner of a room, a chair, or even a spot in a park. The key is to ensure you won't be disturbed and can find stillness. Over time, you'll associate this space with meditation.

Be Flexible When Needed

While consistency is important, it's also crucial to be flexible. Sometimes, your chosen meditation space or time may not be available. In such cases, don't skip your practice altogether. Meditation can be done anywhere, whether it's at home, work, or even in a busy airport. Remember, the goal is to cultivate a consistent practice, even in less-than-ideal circumstances.

Start Small and Build Up

When starting out, it's okay to begin with shorter meditation sessions, such as 5 or 10 minutes, and gradually increase the duration. This helps make the practice more manageable and allows you to build up your focus and concentration over time.

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Create a meditative space

Creating a meditative space is an important step in getting effective results from meditation. While it can be practised anywhere, it is beneficial to have a dedicated space to meditate, free from distractions and interruptions.

Choose a location

Select a place where you can feel calm and quiet. It should be somewhere you can find stillness and not be disturbed. It could be a quiet corner of a room, a chair, or even your bed. The key is to ensure the space is comfortable and separate from other activities, especially stressful work or conversations.

Make it consistent

Try to meditate in the same place every day. By doing so, you train your brain to associate that space with meditation and, over time, you will find it easier to tap into a meditative state, even when you are not at home.

Make it comfortable

The ideal meditating position is somewhere in between sitting completely upright and slouching. You can sit in a chair or on a sofa with your feet flat on the floor, and a cushion or towel underneath you to help your back stay naturally upright.

Make it sensory

Before you begin, focus on one of your less dominant senses: touch, smell, or taste. You could draw your awareness to the fabric of your clothes, the texture of your skin, or the temperature of the room. Alternatively, you could use an aromatic object, such as a candle or essential oil, to focus on your sense of smell, or a piece of chocolate or an orange to focus on taste.

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Meditate with others

Meditating with others can be a powerful way to enhance your practice and keep you accountable. While meditation may seem like a highly personal activity, there are benefits to doing it in a group setting.

"Collective energy is a powerful thing, and there’s no doubt meditating with a partner or in a class can amplify your experience," says Los Angeles-based breathwork and meditation instructor Candice Fairoth.

Making meditation a group activity can help pull you out of your own thought loops and provide a sense of accountability that you may not get when practising alone. Fairoth adds: "I believe stepping into a container with others helps pull us out of our minds and into the experience. There’s also a desire to show up more fully, knowing we are part of something bigger than ourselves."

Meditating with others can also be a way to build community and connect with like-minded people. You can join a local meditation group or class, or even just meditate with a friend or partner. If you can't find a group in your area, virtual reality technology can also allow you to meditate with others from the comfort of your own home.

When meditating with others, it's important to remember that everyone's practice is different. Try not to compare your experience to those around you, and instead focus on your own breath and sensations.

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Meditate to a recording

Meditating to a recording is a great way to get into a meditative state, especially if you are a beginner or an overthinker. It can help you to focus and keep intrusive thoughts at bay.

There are many pre-recorded guided meditations available online and on meditation apps. You can select a video or recording that fits your personal goals, such as a meditation for anxiety, better sleep, or greater focus.

If you are creating your own recording, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, choose a quiet space that is free from external noise and distractions. It's best to record in a room with little to no echo, so avoid large, open spaces. You can also use pillows, furniture, curtains, or bedding to muffle any sound.

Second, wear comfortable clothing that won't create any noise or distractions during the recording. Avoid wearing jewellery or accessories that may make noise when you move.

Third, choose the right equipment. The most important piece of equipment is a good-quality microphone that will capture the nuances in your voice and produce clear, high-quality audio. You can also record with your smartphone. Other equipment you may need includes headphones, a microphone stand, and a pop filter to reduce popping sounds.

Fourth, choose your background music. Select music that is calming and soothing, and that complements the tone and pace of your meditation. It's best to mix the music in after the meditation is recorded and cleaned up, so that you can remove any accidental noises.

Finally, structure your meditation. Start with a short introduction that sets the tone and introduces the theme. Then, provide specific instructions and guidance for your listeners, and end with a conclusion that leaves your listeners feeling calm and centred.

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Start with some breathwork

Breathwork is a powerful tool for calming the mind and improving mental focus. Numerous meditation practices are based solely on breathing, with the belief that mental and emotional benefits will follow.

Slow down your breath

The simple act of slowing down your breath has proven calming effects on the nervous system and can help reduce feelings of anxiety.

Pay attention to your breath

Paying attention to your breath provides a constant focal point during meditation, helping to keep meddlesome thoughts at bay. This practice of returning to the breath builds the "muscles" of attention and mindfulness.

Try a breathing exercise

  • Feel your breath: Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and out.
  • Notice when your mind has wandered: When you realise your mind has wandered, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
  • Be kind to your wandering mind: Don't judge yourself or obsess over the content of your thoughts.

Combine with movement

If you find it challenging to sit still, try combining breathwork with movement. Practices such as tai chi, qigong, and walking meditation can help you to focus your attention on your breath while engaging in gentle physical activity.

Frequently asked questions

Find a quiet place to sit and set a time limit. You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, cross-legged, or kneel—whatever is comfortable for you. Close your eyes and follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and out. When you notice your mind wandering, gently bring your attention back to your breath.

Try to meditate at the same time and in the same place every day. If you can, meditate first thing in the morning to ensure it gets done. You could also try meditating with others, as this can help with accountability.

It's normal for your mind to wander during meditation. Try to be kind to yourself and not judge your thoughts. You could also try meditating to a recording, as this gives your brain something to focus on.

Try moving your body before meditation. Yoga, stretching, or a short walk may help you settle in.

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