Setting time aside for self-care, particularly care that nourishes the mind and spirit, can often feel like a luxury reserved for those with minimal responsibilities. And yet, meditation goes hand-in-hand with a full schedule—its effects assist in remaining present as we rush from place to place, always looking to the next item on our to-do list.
So how does anyone justify setting aside time to simply pause, breathe, and make space for the mind to just be? When we face a life of balancing acts, it’s necessary to place the same precedence on taking time for ourselves as we do for helping others. But this is always easier said than done. Below are a few tactics for building that tricky balance—keeping busy habits and schedules in mind.1. Begin with Small and Practical Steps
Setting yourself up for success starts with patience and self-kindness. Meditation is a training of the mind, and easiest when you begin with short intervals. Linking short mediations with standard activities of your day is one excellent way to strengthen the habit. For example, if you set your alarm for just 10 minutes earlier, you can use this quiet time to sit and wake up easily—or similarly just before you go to bed. As you progress, add a few minutes of practice before or after lunch. Focus on five minutes at first, and work your way into longer sittings at your own pace. It all counts. And soon enough, the longer stretches will feel less taxing; your mind will naturally become more comfortable with the stillness as time goes on.2. Seek Tools and Advice
As meditation becomes more popular in the West, there are many non-denominational teachers and reading materials that can guide early practice. Consider exploring interviews or writing from those farther along in their practice. You may also consider one of the leading apps for timing and supporting mediation, such as Insight Timer or Sattva. Both help meditators connect with a community, time and log progress, and find guided meditation tips and recordings.3. Set a Personalized Space
Without any unnecessary changes or purchases, finding a clear, quiet spot to meditate is key in uninterrupted practice. A soft, comfortable spot to sit, a clear source of natural light, and separation from interruptions is great place to begin. It’s also ideal to avoid your bed or a place that will be directly linked with sleep; overall, finding a neutral space is preferable.4. Use positive reinforcement
Any habit that you’re looking to build can be encouraged through positive reinforcement. For example, start the coffee pot just before sitting down, and therefore you’ll know that a hot cup of coffee awaits you at the end of your meditation time. When meditation is linked with hot coffee, it will slowly link to an enjoyable activity.5. Proceed without expectation
One of the most difficult aspects of any wellness-enhancing habit is trying not focus on the desired outcome during the process. So though it sounds challenging, try meditating for the sake of meditating. If you enter without expectations of an immediate outcome, your mind will remove the pressure to watch and wait for improvement. These gradual habits create steady and life-altering outcomes on their own, and noticing changes as they come will encourage further practice.
Ongoing meditation can begin with the simplest of scheduling shifts. Starting small, seeking guidance, and removing pressure are a just few ways to make mental clarity a top priority in a busy world.