Where, When, and How? Meditation Logistics
Figuring out when, where, and how to meditate is important, fun, and personal. Most likely you will need to try out different times, places, and postures before you get a sense for what really works for you--and it can change on the scale of a minute to a decade.
I recommend having a designated place, but if that’s not realistic for you, that’s okay. It can change. I have a meditation setup in the corner of my room by a window. My cushions are from Still Sitting Meditation Supply and I am very happy with them. However, it is not necessary to have a cushion. It is nice to have because it supports a steady and comfortable posture and its presence in your home or office serves as a reminder of mindfulness and practice. It can also be motivating if you have trouble committing to a practice but would like to become more regular. The cushion inspires and beckons.
First ask yourself when in your schedule it is realistic to practice meditation. Some people like to meditate in the morning. When I meditate in the morning, I like to do it after a few sips of coffee, but if it works better for my schedule, I do it before coffee. I do find it a really wonderful way to start the day, even if it’s just five minutes. That said, some people feel pressure to get to work or school in the morning and the thought of sitting still for some time just makes the morning feel more rushed. If that’s the case, don’t worry about it! It’s not necessary to meditate in the morning.
Some people like to meditate when they come home from their main activities of the day—work, school, sports, or what have you. I have found this to be an ideal time to sit because it helps ease the accumulated tensions of the day. But some days, I just want to move my body and sitting more sounds miserable to me. So on those days I don’t meditate after work.
Some people like to meditate before bed. In my experience this is a rather inviting time to meditate because there’s less background noise (people doing yardwork, cars driving, family/housemates, etc.) and because I myself am ready to shift into calm and slow my thoughts before I lie down to sleep. The only risk with waiting until before bed is that if you wait too long you could become too tired to meditate. And I mean, if you do, that’s okay, just go to sleep.
Is it important to have a regular practice of meditation? How often should you practice? Again, this is personal. You’ll have to find out for yourself. I am a person who does well with little structure and irregular practice and I can usually tell intuitively when I’m in need of a session—and that’s true for most areas of my life. For others it is not so clear. Some people may have reasons for keeping a very regular practice. Some people know about themselves that if they miss a day they will not get back into the practice for months. I’ve read that people coping with mental illness or crisis may want to consider a daily practice, but missing a day or a week is not something to stress out about. When I’m going through a hard time, I make a greater effort to meditate daily. Meditation is a wonderful tool for sifting through and making space for each day’s emotions.
Find what works for you. It’s a question like, “How often do you exercise? How often do you tidy your space?” The answers are up to you. If you listen in, you will become ever more intuitive and ever more equipped to attend to yourself and your needs from one moment to the next.
This is “how?” in the postural sense—not in the sense of how to steady the mind, which I go into more detail in the meditation programs. Traditionally, meditation is practiced in a seated posture, but it is not necessary to practice seated. The benefit of sitting is that it generates a feeling of stability in the body and prevents you from falling asleep. I like to sit on cushions. Some people prefer to sit on a bench or in a chair. If sitting is not comfortable for you, consider lying down. The important thing is to support yourself in being at ease. You do not need to sit or lay perfectly still during meditation either. If your body needs to adjust, let it adjust. We are not trying to be rigid or controlling in our meditation practice. You won’t disturb the process by listening to your body and making gentle changes. If anything, becoming aware of what is needed in the moment is a sign of meditation letting you in to your body’s cues, which we often overlook when we are not present.
Meditation gives us opportunities to be our best self and live our best life. Meditation has changed me, and definitely for the better.
So, give it a try. Switch it up. Be open to change, and enjoy getting to know yourself better. Get started with five days of guided meditation.