How to Remove Barriers + Establish a Practice
A daily home yoga/meditation practice has been a goal of mine for years, and yet while I've understood the benefits, and truly craved the idea of doing it, I held back. I didn't make that committment to myself that I knew would be paramount in battling stress and overwhelm, banishing that feeling that I wasn't doing enough to support myself (especially once kids came along), and missing that vital stepping stone in my path to wellness and learning. Finally (mostly because I took steps to force myself), I took the time to unpack what was getting in the way—to define my actual and imagined roadblocks—and create a plan to break them down one by one until I found myself actually sitting on the mat (for more than one day in a row). I thought I'd share with you the strategies that have been working in the hopes that it might provide a tool or two for you to either start or get back to that practice you've been missing.
Clear Your Space, Free Your Mind—before beginning, take 5-10 minutes to quickly tidy up your space, be it the kitchen, the kids' toys, or whatever is top of mind for you. Taking the time to clear this off your plate helps allow you to bring your focus down and inward during your practice.
Don't Pressure Yourself with a Schedule—often the idea of doing something at the same time every day is both uninspiring and unrealistic (at least to me). Be it morning, noon or night, there is no right or wrong time. I find the more parameters I attach to my practice, the less likely I am to do it.
Forget the Idea of Perfection—what greatly threatens a daily practice from taking root is the idealism you may have surrounding the idea; I know for me this is the greatest barrier. Try to scale back your expectations, both in terms of how long you will practice (start with something really small and attainable, such as ten minutes), and how "well". It's easy to percieve others as having more time and space to really deepen and live their practice, but we must block that out. Don't focus on how free, how focused, your mind can be during meditation, or how aligned and flowing your asanas. Think instead of creating space within yourself. Breathe in calm, grace, gentleness. Feel the expansion. Breathe out frustration, expectation, dissonance. You are here, showing up, and that is enough.
Create Ritual—setting up a short, 2-3 minute ritual-like process to kick start your practice is beneficial for a few reasons. You are providing your brain cues of what is coming, the process will begin to feel familiar, and you will find yourself easing into your practice faster and more easily. Be sure to incorporate things that have deep meaning to you. It will feel healing and meditative just to go through the motions. I don't have a permanent puja or sacred space set up in my home. With two little ones running about I prefer to unpack it each time. I also prefer this because it means my process and the objects I use evolves and never feels dusty or stale. My ritual involves choosing music to help my mind rest and my body relax. Clearing of the space in some way, be it palo santo, incence or diffusing essential oils (my preference). I also do this using a set of tingsha bells. I keep small vials of jojoba oil mixed with essential oil blends I find soothing and I'll take a few minutes to massage my face, third eye chakra, neck and shoulders, using both the oil and a tumbled stone of choice which I find particularly helpful to further help clear and soothe energy, as well as soften and relax tense muscles. Lastly, I place a few objects that have meaning for me, no more than three or four, since I prefer simplicity. This is usually two crystals of choice (lately a large raw rose quartz and a clear crystal generator point), and a living thing such as a flower or small potted plant. And very lastly, I light a beeswax candle. Meditating on the flame is a really useful tool for me, and beeswax both cleans the air and emits negative ions as it burns, two very big benefits.
Journal—admittedly, I am not an avid journaler. It's a practice that I struggle with but I do find it beneficial. Usually while meditating or practicing yoga, feelings or thoughts surface that I want to record. The act of writing them down helps with the permanence of the thought or emotion, helping me carry it with me throughout the day should I choose, or release it if that is better. Again, don't expect too much of yourself here. I try not to feel pressured to write well, or poetically, simply to let it flow. If you would prefer prompting to help get started, I recommend The 5-Minute Journal.
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