What Does My Meditation Practice Look Like, Really?
I love meditation. Well I do now.
For quite a number of years, I wouldn’t have said I enjoyed it, but I certainly got alot out of it. I kept going regardless, because the more I did it, the better I seemed to cope with whatever life was throwing at me. Even if I spent most sessions watching my thoughts on their usual loops, or sitting with uncomfortable emotions, overall I wasn’t feeling quite so overwhelmed by life’s ups and downs.
So by now, 9 or so years down the line, it feels quite natural do some meditation pretty much every day. And yes, I even enjoy it now (once, I’d never have imagined myself saying that!).
I’m often asked how much I meditate. Here’s one answer to that question.
Some days, it looks like this:
- Early morning 20-minute meditation – at the moment, usually a kindness practice.
- Plus an early evening 30-50 minute practice – typically a version of a breathing meditation.*
When it’s possible to do that much practice, I definitely notice the positive impact on how I feel in the rest of my life.
But of course, the ‘schedule’ I’ve outlined above isn’t always possible. I’d be lying if I said it was.
So some days, my practice looks more like this:
- Wake up later (after being out the night before) and skip morning meditation in a rush to get out the door on time.
- Remind myself I can practice on the train by bringing awareness to my breath, the motion of the train, the feel of my feet on the floor etc, without needing to close my eyes.
- Become aware that I’m mentally beating myself up about a conversation I had yesterday… practice self-kindness by offering myself some words of comfort.
- Have a mindful cuppa after lunch – looking at the sky, not at my phone.
- Feeling stiff and scrunched up in my body… do a few mindful movements, possibly with my son joining in/offering his suggestions for variation.
- Get outside for 5 minutes… take in the feeling of air against my skin, and the sights and sounds around me.
- Realise hubby is working late which throws off my evening meditation sit… chop veggies mindfully (they call this ‘working meditation’ on retreat after all).
- Listen to a short meditation together with my son as he settles before bedtime.
- Notice I’m tempted to stay up late scrolling through social media… lie on the living room floor for a few minutes to bring awareness into my body, then decide an early-ish night is quite appealing.
And actually, that’s quite alot of practice in a day. It can be so easy to get hung up on sitting meditation that we overlook how mindfulness shows up in our day – which is the whole point after all! I find that the line between ‘practice’ and ‘living’ gets more blurred over time, so that a day without meditation isn’t necessarily a day without mindfulness.
Where might you find those moments of living-as-practice in your own life?
*Remember I said I’ve been practising for over 9 years, I certainly wouldn’t suggest that a beginner should aim for a 50-minute sit! 10 minutes is plenty to start off with… In fact, as an update to this footnote I should say that currently I’ve reduced the length of my practices again because I’m doing a different type of practice which I find more intensive. There really is no ‘gold standard’ to aim for here.
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