This is my last blog entry for 2020, so I thought I would keep it short and sweet and provide some simple tips to not only enhance your meditation but give you something to think about as you start to explore goals for 2021. I know you might be thinking that after a year like 2020, why would I bother thinking or planning for 2021. Why don’t we just wait and see what happens? That’s perfectly fine. No one has to plan anything as there are no rules.
Maybe just think about what you would like to focus on and keep it simple. More inner peace, more self-love or happiness. Whatever it may be, these simple tips that I often use in my meditation practice can also be used in your everyday life.
If you are thinking about developing a meditation practice in 2021, what is your intention? How often do you plan to meditate? Once a week or twice? I’d suggest starting small as you are more likely to keep it up that way. Keep it achievable. If you set an intention to meditate six or seven days a week then meditate only two days, you might berate yourself for not sticking to your goal of six or seven. That is not meditating and it certainly isn’t mindfulness. Start slowly and be gentle with yourself. If you forget to practice, that’s ok. The fact that you have remembered and get back to it another day means your brain is registering that you want to practice. This is a start.
Be mindful of what you hope to achieve. Better sleep? Less stress? Improved relationships? Keep in mind what you would like to improve and set this as your intention each time you meditate. Or maybe you just want to let more happiness or peace into your life. Set that intention right now as we leave 2020 and move towards 2021. Write it down and display it somewhere where you can see it daily and be reminded of your intention. Simple as that.
To meditate successfully, you need to have focus your attention for the time you meditate. Whether that be for one minute or ten or more, you are focussed and meditating for the entire period. Now if you find that you lose concentration or your mind wanders, that’s ok. Be gentle with yourself and let it go. What I mean by attention or focus is giving yourself one minute or ten or twenty where you sit still and quietly for that time.
It’s normal for the mind to wander or to lose concentration once in a while. We are not perfect beings, we are human. The mind is made to think and process information constantly and this trait is important for us to resolve issues and problems or to process information that has come up during the day. Let it go but acknowledge the thoughts as they arise. I even use the words, ‘Thinking, thinking, thinking,’ and keep sitting and focussing my attention on the meditation. For me, repeating the word ‘thinking’ three times can slow the mind down and help me understand that they are just thoughts. And in most cases none of them are real.
These simple practices can be used anytime, anywhere. If you cannot undertake longer meditations, see my third blog ‘What is mindfulness meditation?’ for some simple one-minute meditations you can do. And now you can improve your practice by adding an intention and focussed attention.
To meditate, you should have the right attitude which is to remain positive and be gentle. Mindfulness practice is all about being gentle with yourself as a human being who makes mistakes and is not perfect, not just during your meditation practice but throughout your daily life. However, the more you meditate and practice gentleness, the more you will notice gentleness quietly seeping into your everyday life. Your attitude and life will change slowly and over a period of time. Don’t expect changes to occur quickly. We develop habits over a lifetime, then expect things to change quickly as soon as we start to implement a few new habits. It can take months, even years, for old habits to leave and new ones to be formed. Have patience. Practice gentleness. I often repeat the words, “I am only human,” or “I am ok,” to remind myself of this fact and as a way to practice gentleness. Try it or find your own words that suit you.
Give it a go
These are a few simple tips you can use for your meditation practice, to live more mindfully day to day or to assist you in setting some goals for 2021. Or these simple practices can be your goals for 2021. What I can tell you with 100% certainty is that you will live a life with more positivity. There will be difficulties. You may continue to experience anxiety or depression. Life is tough and full of challenging situations, and some things are easier to get through than others. However, these simple techniques, when part of your everyday life, do make things easier to manage. You’ll feel less like laying blame and start seeing things just as they are. Give it a go, what harm can it do?