Updated: Feb 23
When establishing a successful mindfulness practice there are a few things to keep in mind to help you be successful. Firstly, it is highly beneficial to practice at the same time and in the same location every day. A corner of a room works nicely - it doesn't have to be anything fancy. Just somewhere you can sit undisturbed for a short period of time. If you can, place a few meaningful objects on a small table, a windowsill, or a shelf nearby. The items can be anything of inspiration to you: a photo of a spiritual leader or someone else that you look up to. You might like a bible or other spiritual text, perhaps a rosary, a mala, a cross, or statue of Buddha, Mary, Krishna - a representation of your own personal beliefs can be very powerful. Anything that helps you connect to your highest self is appropriate. Feel free to add flower petals, candles, incense - anything that helps you relax and feel at ease. You will find, as time goes by, that your mind will naturally begin to quiet as you enter this sacred space and you will be able to relax more quickly and easily. You may have to experiment a bit to see what time of day works best. Meditating soon after rising is a wonderful way to start your day just as meditating at the end of the day is a wonderful way to let go of the days events for a restful nights sleep. Whatever time of day that you find you consistently have a little free time is absolutely perfect! The most important thing is simply to practice.
Keep your meditation goals realistic. Especially in the beginning. The affects of meditation are cumulative and meditating for even a short time every day is beneficial. I recommend 10-15 minutes for a new meditator. It takes a few minutes for the mind to begin to settle so it's likely the first five minutes will be constant chatter gradually quieting down for 5 or 10 minutes more of actual meditating. It can take the body a while to adjust to sitting practice, too, so be gentle and kind to yourself giving your body the time it needs. A few minutes of "good meditation" where you are comfortable, alert, and aware is far better than a long session spent in frustration or with your knees screaming at you.
Traditionally, mindfulness meditation is practiced in silence, and I do believe it is the most beneficial way to practice. However, if it is difficult to find a time of the day that is actually quiet you may feel that you need some soothing background noise. Rather than using music I suggest using nature sounds: babbling brooks, ocean waves, forest sounds, etc.We are use to letting the sounds of nature be in the background whereas when we hear music it tends to pull our attention to it and we want to keep our attention on our breath when we meditate.
It's also a good idea to set a timer so you won't be tempted to watch the clock. There are some apps available for this very purpose or you can set an alarm in your phone. Just be mindful of how jarring some of those alarm sounds can be! If possible, at the end of your session rise slowly and with ease so the benefits of your practice can be carried off your cushion or bench into the rest of your day.
Be patient with yourself. If you have to begin again and again a thousand times in ten minutes - that's o.kay. That's the practice! Each time you notice your attention has wandered and you choose to return to the breath without judging yourself you are developing resilience and learning to be less reactive.