Anchoring your meditation practice
Ways to include mindfulness and meditation in your daily life.
Ways to include mindfulness and meditation in your daily life.
This manual has been written with lots of love and care for you. We want to support you on your way of making mindfulness and meditation a regular, healthy habit in your llife.
In this ebook, you will find the following:
2. Why should you meditate regularly?
3. Making your intentions clear
5. Choosing the right time
6. Choosing the right place
7. Finding the right posture
8. Managing the flow of your thoughts
9. Learning to continue despite obstacles
10. Meditating in the long run
11. How can you do all this when...
12. Now you're all set!
I'm happy to welcome you again. If you are reading this, it means that you have a real interest and motivation to continue your meditation and mindfulness practice (unless someone forced you to read this e-book... in that case, thank him!). Anyways, I am delighted to accompany you on this path.
This manual is intended to help you build this healthy habit. Discover tips on when, where and how to meditate, on how to find your own rhythm and how to stay motivated in the long term.
And above all, never forget: the most important thing is to keep your sessions as simple as possible, to remain patient and to enjoy your practice.
Let's get started!
Perhaps you have already experienced the positive effects of meditation during your practice.
It has also been scientifically proven that a regular mindfulness practice can help us reduce stress and improve our concentration. Meditation gives us the right tools to develop compassion and empathy, to be more creative and to better manage difficult emotions or pain. It can also help us to simply feel more comfortable. In other words... it makes you want to continue?
However, you could compare meditation to sports or playing an instrument: nothing is more important than practicing it!
Talking about meditation or reading a book (or this e-book!) about it can inspire you, but unfortunately, it won't have much physical or mental effects.
And obviously, the harvest from the practice of mindfulness can only be reaped with regular training, it would be too simple otherwise! ; -)
Fortunately, there are simple steps that can help you make this regular (even daily) practice a part of your life.
The first step is to clarify your intention.
"Meditate and you will understand"
Middle Eastern proverb
Why do you want to meditate? For what reason do you practice?
The intention with which you begin and deepen your practice is very important. It makes you more enthusiastic and helps you to stay motivated.
First of all, take a few minutes to answer this question:
What do I plan to do with this practice? What am I really looking for?
Maybe you're in search of inner peace, want to better manage your emotions, or want to build a healthy relationship with yourself? Maybe you just want to better understand your thoughts (because, let's face it, sometimes your brain and thoughts get overwhelming!)
Try to put your intentions into words.
You can return to this intention at any later point in time. Perhaps your motivation is still a bit unclear and you just want to discover something new? Don't worry, you can still start meditating with an "undefined " intention. It will surely become more specific during your practice.
Tip: your overall attitude should be benevolence!
Your attitude towards your practice is very important. Always remember: there is no good or bad meditation, and you can't do anything "wrong" in this exercise! It is not about achieving a certain result or state of mind, it is only about forming a habit of benevolence towards yourself and others. In this way you can really relax and allow your body and mind to arrive in the present moment.
Choosing the right time
and place for your meditation
The power of habits
Now that you were able to narrow down your intention... the next step is to create good conditions for starting your practice. Are you ready ? ;)
In meditation, just like in life: there are ups and downs, and some days you will be tired and uninspired! No need to judge yourself for it, it happens to all of us.
On a day of low motivation, just think about how easy it will one day be to keep up the routine after you put in all the effort to get there.
Defining a time and place for your regular practice will support you in the process. Of coure your attitude will play a crucial role: you have to believe in yourself and your ability to get there!
When is the right time to meditate?
There is no right or wrong time to do your meditation session. As part of finding your rythm, find that sweet spot for when and where to meditate. Make it match your lifestyle and ensure that this setting may be one that lasts for a long term. Don't be too overambitious and get up every day at 5am to meditate ;-).
You can include your meditation session in your daily routine: for example, every day just after getting up, after showering, when you arrive at the office, before or after lunch, after sports (or after your nap!), when you come home, before going to sleep... Your current habits will help you to integrate this new practice into your daily life.
Try to choose a time when you are relatively calm, usually not too tired and when you feel at peace. Many people like to meditate in the morning, because they can make good use of the clarity that the practice creates throughout the day. In the end, it's totally up to you to determine what's best for you.
Tip: the good side of digital devices
Sometimes technology can help reinforce habits: meditation applications or timers remind you of your next session and create regularity. You can therefore (consciously) use this kind of support for your practice.
Life is a gift that I unwrap every morning when I wake up.
How much time should I do?
"Half an hour of meditation is essential except when you are very busy. Then an hour is necessary." Saint Francis de Sales
Try to set yourself a realistic goal: twenty minutes may be too long at the beginning. You can start with five to ten minute sessions. If you are able to incorporate meditation slowly, but regularly into your daily life, you will be able to concentrate longer as you practice.
Tip: Finding the right balance
Mindfulness training is a marathon, not a race! Don't set your expectations too high (but not too low either). Try to meditate every day - the duration itself is not that important. Don't get discouraged and be happy every day that you have adopted a good habit. That's exactly how practice can be anchored in the long term!
It can be helpful to have a specific place to return to for each of your sessions. Of course, the ideal place depends on the best time, and vice versa. Your task is then to find the perfect mix between the two.
You can meditate wherever you will not be disturbed and where you can sit comfortably. Some people meditate in their room after getting up or in the metro on their way to work, others in their office, in their garden... If you have back problems, you can even meditate lying down - no worries, it will not come at the cost of any benefits of meditation!
When you practice at home, you can create a special place for your meditation. This place will remind you of your practice every day. It can be a chair, a corner of your house where you feel comfortable, or a meditation cushion on a mat.
How to manage your body and mind during meditation
Your posture is the essence of your practice. Your body always remains in the present moment. If you get lost in your thoughts, you can always return to your posture by devoting all your attention to it.
There is no strict rule for the ideal posture. No one will force you to meditate in a lotus position (which is a common cliché). You can meditate anywhere - discreetly and effectively. A simple chair will do the job... First and foremost, you should be able to breathe freely without being hindered, feel comfortable but firmly anchored, open and stable. The posture must be physiologically correct (especially for the back) to help your mind be clear and alert.
Here you can see some common meditation postures:
If you are sitting on a chair: both feet are flat on the floor, the legs are hip-width apart, the thighs and calves form a 90-degree angle, the back is not bent, the pelvis is slightly tilted forward and the spine is naturally arched. The arms rest relaxed on the thighs, the posture of the head is dignified (imagine your head hanging from a wire).
Neither too stiff, nor too straight, but not too bent either.
When we take our place, we discover that we are rock solid.
If you are sitting cross-legged (or in the lotus/half-lotus position) on a meditation cushion: make sure your pelvis is straight. Your knees should be under your hips to relieve your back (I don't want you to get stuck because of me!). Your hands rest relaxed on your thighs or knees.
For some meditations you can lie down, but be careful not to fall asleep. Some meditations can also be done while standing or walking.
You can close your eyes if you wish. With your eyes closed, it may be easier for you to concentrate. But you may also be tired... You can then meditate with your eyes open. Let your eyes rest on the ground about two metres in front of you.
Tip: Dealing with posture pain
Sitting for long time periods can cause discomfort or pain. Normally, pain takes over our whole mind (at least that's what has happened to me many times...). In meditation, however, we are able to observe these feelings in a different way.
Everything that appears in your mind is part of your practice - even pain! So the first step is to recognize it and name it. Say to yourself silently, "Oh, here, I feel a slight pain in my back."
Don't blame yourself, and have compassion for yourself. Look carefully at this unpleasant feeling: Where exactly is it? Does it have a colour? A texture? Give space to this conscious observation and also consider other sensations that may develop.
Then you can decide what you want to do: you can meditate more and observe the pain with a more distant position, or change your posture and take a break.... You definitely have the right to move! If you want to change your posture, do it consciously leaving out the autopilot mode. Follow your movements mindfully, feel all your muscles, and execute your posture change as slowly and consciously as possible. Then feel if the pain subsides, and notice how your sensations have changed.
You are now meditating: you have worked out your intention, you have chosen a place and a time and you have found your preferred posture. Perhaps you meditate alone or prefer to do guided meditations with us. Maybe sometimes you say to yourself: "I think about too many things". You think that you are the only one whose mind is full of thoughts. Maybe you even think that lack the ability to meditate. Don't worry, it's perfectly normal and it's similar to all of our experiences! In fact, it is impossible to " empty your head and no longer have thoughts. It is only when we interrupt our activities that we suddenly notice the background noise of our thoughts.
The observation of these thoughts is the essence of meditation. We learn not to get carried away by the flow of thoughts, and we welcome them more quickly - as a thought and not as a reality. Therefore, don't blame yourself when you realise that you were lost in your thoughts. You may even feel happy because it shows that you've noticed it! And you've come back to the present moment. Remember that this is the focus of the exercise. Observe your thoughts and come back to the present moment ( you can do it a hundred times in one session, if you have to!).
How to use the difficulties of practice as stepping stones
Sooner or later, we all encounter some obstacles: fatigue, difficult emotions, boredom, or interruptions (your children who are already hungry, your boss who needs you to do a task, or the notifications on your phone not stopping...). Dealing with these challenges is also part of the journey. One of the healthiest attitudes in meditation is to be compassionate. Instead of reacting without thinking, you can use your knowledge aquired through mindfulness to be able to freely choose your response.
The process is always the same:
1. First, become aware of what is going on inside you. Name your thoughts, body sensations and emotions. They may sound as follows:
"I feel tired from last night", "I am still very angry with my friend who forgot to warn me about something", "Meditation is still boring", "I am totally lost in my thoughts"...
2. Then try not to resist and have compassion for yourself. Relax and remember that everything that appears in your mind is completely normal. This will happen regularly. Behave as a good friend who supports you unconditionally.
3. Take a few minutes to put your feelings and sensations at the centre of your mind. Examine what is going on in your body and mind. The following questions may help you:
4. If thoughts or feelings that take you away from the present moment arise, give them the attention they need, they will gradually dissolve. Come back again and again to your body sensations.
5. If the emotions become stronger and stronger, you can consciously decide to take a break or stop your session. The important thing is to be compassionate (I know, you must know this by now, I must have repeated it about ten times!). There is no point in hurting yourself by letting your emotions get the best of you...but it's perfectly normal to be overwhelmed by them sometimes ;)
If the same difficulties occur repeatedly, you may ask yourself whether you should adapt your practice conditions. If, for example, you are always tired, you may consider whether you could give yourself more free time, or whether you could choose a more suitable time for meditation.
Hurry to live well and think that each day is a life of its own.
How to renew your inspiration and stay motivated
Inspiration plays an important role in your endurance. Motivation inspires us and makes us feel joy during meditation. It also helps us to get through more difficult meditation experiences.
So here are some tips for staying inspired:
Some examples of small rituals to do before meditation:
Other tips to keep you motivated:
Tip: What to do if you are having trouble practicing?
There will certainly be times when you will not be able to practice meditation regularly. You may have a lot to do (work, studies, family life...) or other things you need to focus on. This is completely normal, so don't worry about it. Instead, try to find out, with curiosity, what events, thoughts and feelings are leading you to put your practice on hold: "ah, I'd rather watch a TV series than see Petit Bambou's face", "If only I could get some help, I'd manage to find time for my meditation", "meditation is not for me anyway".
Also observe your current feelings: how do you feel about meditating again? Slowly let these positive or negative thoughts pass by. Forgive yourself and never forget: every day is a new beginning - you can always start over again without feeling guilty!
... enjoy your meditation! Remember that there is no goal - so there should be no pressure. Let go of your expectations. Trust that your practice will eventually pay off. Let it have an impact on you. In fact, you don't have to do anything - just sit here and now.
And once you sit, you've already won!
Do you live a very hectic life?
Are you particularly busy with your job, your family and/or your sports activities?
We have some tips for you!
In this case, you need to be especially careful to incorporate mindfulness into your life. If you spend a lot of time at the office, it may be useful to set up a permanent meditation place in your workplace. You can book a meeting room or meditate outside on a bench. Flights, train or metro rides are also opportunities to take time for meditation.
Take short breaks (between 30 seconds and 3 minutes) throughout the day to return on a regular basis to the present moment, to be able to feel that you are in the here and now. You set your own schedule and priorities. And don't forget that the time you take to meditate is often more than compensated for by the high quality of your presence. So it's not a waste of time!
When having children, the time available for ourselves is often very limited and sometimes (often!) interrupted. Be flexible and creative to find the best time for your meditation. You can divide your practice into several short sessions: for example, two times five minutes instead of one time ten minutes.
To further strengthen your practice, you can consciously go through your daily routine: walking up the stairs to the office, drinking your morning coffee, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, waiting at traffic lights...It is often said that children are the best teachers of meditation - and to some extent it is true! They learn very quickly to press the right "buttons" to trigger reactions in us, and thus show us where our emotional triggers are. It is then our responsibility to respond consciously rather than on automatic pilot.
Whenever you spend time with your children, pay close attention to how you feel. Take some distance to act more consciously. And if sometimes you feel frustrated or angry, don't blame yourself, you don't have to be the "perfect parent" to be perfect in your child's eyes ;)
If you have a baby, you can hold him/her in your arms while you meditate. If the parents are calm, the baby is usually relaxed as well.
And when your children are old enough (about five years old or more), you can invite them to meditate with you. Of course, without forcing them ;-)
Sometimes we hear "Sport is my meditation". Unfortunately, this is not true: sport cannot replace meditation - and vice versa!
However, meditation can help you enjoy sports better and even increase your performance by better managing your emotions and stress (e.g. during a competition). It also works the other way round: regular exercise is important to stay healthy and soothe the body and mind. So there's no need to choose!
You can regularly combine your meditation with your sports training, for example by sitting down a moment before or immediately after your training.
If you want to explore the effects of meditation on sports, you can try out certain meditation series, such as the Mind and sports program of Petit BamBou.
With this ebook, you now have everything you need to start or continue your meditation practice. If you encounter any problems or have any questions, please do not hesitate to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need extra help for an easy introduction or to deepen your practice, you can try our Petit BamBou application. The first eight guided meditations are free of charge.