2020 is the year of self-care. Whether this means extra reps at the gym or heading to the spa, be sure to take more time for yourself this year! While these self-care rituals can make us look our best, there’s more to overall wellness than aesthetics. We need to check in with ourselves and tend to what our bodies truly need. The best way to achieve this is to hone your intuition through a regular meditation routine. Curious how to create a meditation routine? Let’s discuss the benefits and how to stick with this practice in 2020.
Why Create a Meditation Routine in 2020?
Meditation can be the ultimate form of self-care. It allows you to check out from the hustle and bustle of our nine to five, raising a family or any of the other responsibilities we face. When you meditate, it’s a time to truly put yourself first. Carving time out for a meditation routine should become a top priority in your 2020 self-care regimen.
There are plenty of Googleable reasons why a meditation routine is essential for optimal wellness. Meditating is an excellent way to lower stress levels. According to research conducted by the Eco Institute, “a Rutgers University doctor discovered that meditators had a nearly 50% reduction in cortisol levels!”
Not only does a meditation routine help combat stress, but it also helps keep these feelings at a distance. With a regular meditation routine, you can develop tools to cope with stress.
Through the practice of mindfulness, some everyday stressors may seem less problematic. Meditation can also help you learn new techniques, like muscle relaxation and deep breathing, for handling stress the moment it pops up.
When we endure frequent stress, excessive cortisol levels diminish the production of other hormones. This reaction can cause suppression of the immune system, which can trigger an immune response in the body, such as inflammation.
Inflammation can be found at the root of a whole host of unpleasant ailments that commonly plague humankind. Reducing stress and inflammation through meditation is one of the most effective forms of preventative care.
The best reason to create a meditation routine in 2020 is that it’s free. Americans spend around $1.8 billion in unused gym memberships every year. Then there are all the other forms of self-care that cost money, such as massages, travel and salon trips. Taking care of yourself can be quite costly. Meditation, however, costs nothing.
Why Creating a Meditation Routine May Be Difficult
Trying something new for the first time can be an awkward experience. You don’t know what to expect or if meditation is “going to work.” These ideas are just internal fears at play.
Creating a ritual that is foreign to you, such as a meditation routine, might seem near impossible, but nobody grows by remaining complacent. The moments when we embrace the unknown are the times we feel the most fulfillment. Meditation is a continuous practice toward self-fulfilling bliss.
Learning to meditate will probably seem like a waste of your time at first. Instead of blowing 20 minutes meditating, you could squeeze in the next episode of a Netflix show, but that sort of mindset isn’t self-care. It’s self-sabotage.
Consuming media can seem self-gratifying and relaxing, but the more time we waste getting sucked into a binge-watching vortex, the more we’re ignoring our actual needs. Life is about balance, and following a meditation routine can help you find that middle ground.
How to Create a Meditation Routine
Like anything worth having, creating a solid meditation routine will take a bit of time. You can’t expect to sit down for five minutes on a Tuesday and become a zen master by the weekend. Every day you wake up is another day to tend to yourself.
Even if you set aside only five minutes every day, you will notice a change in your life. You will approach situations differently and handle stress in a more productive manner. We think it’s crucial to create a meditation routine in 2020, and we’re here to help.
Get Out of Your Head
A defeated mindset doesn’t make for a malleable brain. How can you reap the true benefits of any new practice if you come into the situation with your mind closed? If you approach your meditation routine with doubts, you’re also likely to doubt the positive results.
Enter your first meditation practice with an open mind. It may seem improbable, but go into your meditation session without any expectations. Meditating once isn’t going to flip some switch and miraculously change how you feel about everything in your life. Creating a meditation routine is an ongoing process. Go with the flow and get out of your head.
Just Start Meditating
You can’t realize the true potential of a meditation routine without making your first attempt. Unlike an exercise routine, you can’t hurt yourself doing it, so jump in and start meditating! For beginners, try starting with five minutes. Even for the busiest of folks, this is a reasonable amount of time to carve out for yourself.
Find an area in your house where the spouse, kids and animals can’t disturb you. Dim the lights and set an alarm on your phone for five minutes. Close your eyes and take deep breaths. You’re now on the journey toward creating a meditation routine.
Embrace Your Breath
We’ll be frank with you. Five minutes might sound like nothing at first, but this time span will probably feel like an eternity during your first meditating session. Your mind is going to wander. You’ll probably even feel bored. Tough it out.
Keep paying attention to your breath. The breath is your body’s reset button. Imagine any time you’ve ever been under immense stress. You tense up, clench fists and restrict your breathing. Meditation is about unlocking that tension and channeling it into positive energy.
Following your breath is the key to releasing tension. Any time you feel your mind go adrift, refocus on your breath. Consciously think “inhale” as you breathe in and “exhale” as you breathe out.
Work on Inhale, Exhale
Focusing on those two words may seem repetitive, perhaps even borderline insane. After all, it’s been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. You can, however, expect new results by repeating “inhale, exhale.”
Remember that excess cortisol doesn’t allow for as much production of other hormones. The same concept can be applied to your thoughts. Racing and negative thought patterns cause us stress and can even lead us to quit our meditation routines. When your mind says, “I can’t do this boring task,” or “a meditation routine is a waste of time,” this narrative can make you feel unmotivated and push you toward the couch and remote.
Consciously repeating “inhale, exhale” in your mind as you perform your meditation practice doesn’t leave room for negative thoughts. It also won’t allow you to dwell on all the work you have to do or the problems your child may be having at school. Paying attention to your breath during meditation is one of the few moments where you’re entirely focused on tending to your own needs.
Get into Proper Form
Many of us envision people sitting cross-legged on the floor for meditation, but this doesn’t need to be the case. You can sit in a chair or anywhere that allows you to sit up as straight as possible.
The ideal posture for meditation is to align your spine so that your head is directly above your heart and pelvis. Spiritualists call these regions chakras. Many believe they are energy hubs that influence how we perceive the world around us.
Sitting up straight allows energy to run as freely as possible. Clearing these energetic pathways can help improve blockages that perpetuate negativity. Avoid sitting on swivel chairs and bean bag seats. They are conducive to poor posture, which can block positive energy flow in your meditation routine.
Breath and posture play a monumental role in meditation, and yoga is the perfect exercise to supplement your meditation routine. In yoga practice, you merge your movements with your breath. As you inhale, you lengthen and strengthen. As you exhale, you contract and draw from your inward energy. By practicing yoga, you create skills that will transfer over to your meditation routine.
Yoga also focuses a great deal on the spine. Many poses help us feel the intricacies of our joints and muscles. After a few yoga sessions, you’ll notice changes in your posture and how you sit, and you might notice yourself standing up taller. Yoga helps you become more in-tune with your needs. You’ll learn to respect your body more by treating it with extra kindness.
Now that you have a firm understanding of the physical aspects associated with meditation, let’s discuss how to create your meditation routine. The only way to make any sort of change to your wellness regimen is to keep at it.
Weightlifters don’t pump iron once every couple of weeks. It’s a continuous practice. With time, weightlifters notice the physical and mental benefits of their exercise. The same can be said for those who meditate.
Start with five minutes for the first handful of days. Eventually, stop using a timer and just be present. You will be amazed at how quickly you add more time to your meditation routine. In fact, you might spend less time binge-watching to make space for meditation.
One tip is to meditate around the same time every day. Psychology Today theorizes that this sort of consistency helps people foster routines. Knowing that you will meditate every day at 7:30 a.m. will train your brain to expect and look forward to that activity.
Try YouTube Videos
For many of us, being alone with our thoughts can be quite intimidating. You’ll learn to embrace this solitude as you grow your practice. Until then, adding a third party into the mix can be an excellent compromise.
There are plenty of free YouTube videos out there to help you get into the zone. A soothing voice will walk you through some breathing exercises while playing relaxing music. Sometimes the guide will help you envision a serene place, while others might repeat mantras and chants that promote relaxation.
The best aspect of YouTube meditation is that there are many videos tailored to your particular needs. You can find useful meditation videos for everything from dealing with stress to helping achieve enlightenment. Typically, the guide will talk less as the video goes on and you get into the zone. It’s those moments of stillness where you may find the revelations you are hoping for.
Journal Your Experiences
A great addition to your meditation routine is to journal your experience. Write down anything you feel about meditation. Rant about your fears and insecurities before starting, then jot down how you feel afterward.
The more you dive into the practice, the more introspective your journal will become. At first, entries may feature thoughts such as, “I felt bored, but now I’m relaxed,” or “My leg fell asleep, but I made it to six minutes!” Eventually, your journal may be full of moments of clarity you found while meditating.
We reap the actual benefits after we get over the newness of meditation. We’ll be writing less about the experience and more about what we learned from it. You’ll find that meditation goes from a stress suppressor to an outlet for reflection. Writing after meditation will help you map out potential solutions to problems you weren’t even thinking about! You’ll be amazed at what a fresh mind comes up with after establishing a regular meditation routine.
Do you have a meditation routine? What are some tips you have to help others level up in 2020? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!
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Todd Smith is Joy Organics Chief Partnerships Officer and Co-founder. Before Joy Organics, he worked in the wellness and nutritional industry for over three decades and helped generate over 1 billion dollars in supplement sales. He has applied that knowledge and experience to empower over 1000 businesses through Joy Organics’ partnership programs. Todd is also the author of a book, podcast, and blog titled Little Things Matter.