Did you know that it can be hard to meditate?
Four Tips for Sticking to a Meditation Practice*
1) Try meditating in a group, either in-person or virtually.
2) Reflect on the science-backed benefits of meditation
3) Each time you practice, pause and remind yourself why you’re meditating.
4) Nurture positive emotions.
A new study sheds light on this issue and suggests that daily practice is necessary to benefit, at least among new meditators. Researchers asked 82 adults participating in a 21-day mindfulness mediation course to report how often and for how long they practiced meditation each day. Participants also rated various thoughts and feelings expected to be improved by meditation, like mindful awareness and positive emotions, multiple times per day via their smartphones.
This approach, termed intensive experience sampling, is innovative in that it allows researchers to understand people’s behaviors and experiences as they unfold in their real lives, as opposed to asking people to remember what they felt and did over a period of weeks (our memory often fails us here).
The researchers found that people experienced more positive emotions and mindful awareness during the hours following meditation practice sessions and that longer sessions produced even better same-day outcomes. This suggests that daily practice matters. Interestingly, they also observed that meditation practice effects did not accumulate over the 21-day period, or carry over to the next day. Taken together, these results indicate that new meditators need to practice every day in order to benefit, and can reap even greater benefits the longer they practice.
Here, we come back to the problem of starting the practice and actually sticking with it over time. Although researchers are actively trying to understand how to help people make meditation a habit, here are a few evidence-based tips that you might try to integrate meditation into your life.
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*Thanks to Carly Hunt
Greater Good Science Center