20 Powerful Tips to Help You Meditate Better
Ready to change your meditation practice for the better?
Discover 20 powerful meditation tips I wish I knew back when I first started to meditate – they would have helped me ease into my meditation practice in interesting and more self-compassionate ways!
But first, let’s take a quick look at what meditation is and some of the potential benefits of it.
Meditation is all about focusing your attention, tapping into your awareness and observing your experiences without judgement. It’s a practice that allows you to train your mind – research has even shown that meditation creates measurable changes in the brain.
When you meditate, you might use a technique (such as mindful breath awareness or a visualisation) to focus your attention and when your mind wanders to other things, such as your to-do list or work, you gently re-focus on the meditation technique.
Meditation might seem like a waste of time to some people, but for such a simple practice it can actually facilitate many different benefits! I remember when I was first trying to meditate and I thought I was such a failure because I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering. I gave up on my practice really quickly and it wasn’t until I’d used a variety of different meditation apps for extra guidance and started studying meditation that I realised how meaningful it could actually be.
I didn’t have to keep trying to “switch off” my mind and stop my thoughts from happening – I could focus on my meditation technique, bring my mind back when it wandered (without judging myself for it!) and let go of trying to have the “perfect” meditation.
On episode 149 of my podcast, The Mindful Kind, I shared more about the benefits of meditation, such as reduced stress and anxiety, improved sleep, more compassion and higher emotional intelligence.
Aside from the potential benefits, meditation has been a wonderful self-care activity for me and it’s something I regularly look forward to! It might be 5, 10, or 20 minutes when I can have some time on my own to slow down, relax and focus my attention in a meaningful way. My meditation practice has helped me cultivate resilience and self-care in my everyday life.
So, let’s dive into the fun stuff! Here are 20 powerful tips to help you meditate more effectively. These are all things I’ve tried myself to improve my experiences of meditation. Keep in mind that your meditation practice will likely change; some days it may feel effortless and some days, it might challenge you. Save this article so you can return to it when you’re feeling stuck with your meditation practice!
20 tips to help you meditate better
1: Don’t worry if your mind wanders
This is my first tip for a really important reason! Back when I first started meditating, I gave up on my practice for months because I felt like I couldn’t stop my mind wandering. I was so frustrated and angry with myself because I couldn’t completely concentrate on my meditation.
However, it’s totally normal for your mind to wander. Now, when I meditate and notice my mind wandering, I just re-focus on the meditation as best as I can - there’s no need for judgement or anger.
If anything, when you notice your mind wandering often, you should feel proud of yourself for sticking with your meditation even when it wasn’t easy and you felt distracted!
2: Try a variety of meditations to find what resonates with you
There are so many different meditation techniques you can try. I personally tend to prefer breathing techniques (especially when I’m feeling stressed), but I like trying a variety of meditations depending on how I’m feeling at the time.
Here are some different types of meditation:
3: Make yourself as comfortable as possible (without falling asleep)
If I sit cross-legged on the floor for 5 minutes, my back starts to ache intensely. So, if I want to sit and meditate comfortably, I sit on a cushion or a chair. These are my favourite meditation positions because I’m comfortable enough, without being so comfortable that I fall asleep.
4: Use your breath as an anchor
If you’re having a difficult time concentrating on your meditation, try using your breath as an anchor. Any time you notice your mind has wandered, take a deep breath and really pay attention to the feeling of it, then re-focus on the meditation.
5: Create a beautiful meditation space at home.
Walk around your home until you find a small space that is fairly quiet and relaxing. Remove clutter from the immediate area and give it a clean. Set yourself up with meditation tools and aids (check out my free guide below for helpful tips on this). Turn off the light or close the curtain to create a cosy atmosphere.
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6: Start with short meditations and gradually build up your practice
I’m the kind of person who usually tries to overachieve. When I first started practicing yoga, I wanted to be able to do a full forward fold within a week. When I launched my blog several years ago, I wanted hundreds of people to visit my site every day (straight away). When it came to meditating, I planned to do a 30-minute meditation every single night. So, when I struggled to meditate for just 5 minutes, I felt disheartened.
These days, I try to remind myself that the journey is important – not just the destination.
If you’re new to meditation, take your practice slowly and build it up over time. Start with 2 minute meditations. Once that feels comfortable, increase your sessions to 5 minutes. Then 10 minutes. Keep building until you reach meditation sessions which incorporate well into your life and allow you to experience the benefits meditation has to offer.
7: Be kind and compassionate with yourself
There will be days when meditations feel effortless and days when it will challenge you. When meditating is difficult, show yourself kindness and understanding. Reward yourself for trying. Give yourself a break if you need one and self-soothe. Reassure yourself that it’s okay to have challenging meditation sessions and remember that things always change.
8: Use guided meditations
There are many wonderful guided meditations out there, from Youtube videos to podcasts and meditation apps. When I finished studying my Advanced Certificate in Meditation, I decided to collaborate with my musically talented partner to create meditation albums. You can click on the albums below to find out more about them and listen to samples.
9: Let go of “all or nothing”
Do you ever notice yourself thinking “If I can’t do it properly, then I might as well not do it at all”? This can be an example of “all or nothing” thinking. You might feel as though 5 minutes of meditation isn’t good enough, therefore you would prefer not to do it at all. However, “all or nothing” thinking can hold you back from making small achievements, which can still be important and meaningful!
10: Choose a time of day that actually works for you
Do you struggle to stay awake during meditations before bed at night? Try meditating in the morning or afternoon.
Do you feel super rushed before work each day and the idea of meditating makes you feel more overwhelmed? Aim for a meditation when you get home at the end of the day.
Choose a time of day that actually works for you – don’t feel the need to do what someone else does if it doesn’t suit your life!
11: If you have time, do a few stretches first
I find that doing a few gentle stretches before I meditate helps me feel more comfortable during meditation. It also helps me slow down and get into a good headspace before I even start meditating!
12: Meditate in different places
Meditation doesn’t always have to be done in a quiet room with few distractions. Challenge your practice (or mix it up) by meditating somewhere new, such as on the train on your way to work or outside in nature.
13: Let thoughts come and go
Try not to become attached to particular thoughts – just let them come into your mind and disappear. When I started meditating, I would grab hold of particular thoughts and start analysing them (which just made me focus on them even more!).
I remember one particular time I was meditating and I suddenly saw an image of a room with blood running down the walls. It came out of nowhere and I felt so confronted, I immediately started thinking things like “what is wrong with me? Why am I seeing this image?” and “something must be wrong – this image has to mean something bad” and “this is awful, I don’t ever want to see this again”. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and the more I tried not to think about it, the harder it was to forget.
It can be important to remember that thoughts (and images) can appear for no particular reason and even when it might feel confronting, we can recognise that it’s just a thought and we don’t need to over-analyse it. We also don’t need to push thoughts away – they can just appear and disappear in their own time. Meanwhile, we can gently re-focus on the meditation and use our breath as an anchor (see Tip 4).
14: Don’t take things too seriously!
Meditation can sometimes seem like a serious activity, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep a faint smile on your face as you meditate. Try a meditation while you lie your legs up the wall. Go to a meditation class with a friend. Let yourself struggle through a meditation and have a laugh about it.
15: Minimise distractions, but don’t avoid them altogether
You might like to meditate in a quiet area with few distractions – I know I find it easier to concentrate when I have a calming meditation space. However, you can also use distractions as part of your meditation. For example, if a dog starts barking next door, use mindful listening throughout your meditation by observing the sound when it appears, then re-focus on your meditation.
16: Use meditation music
Some days, I like to just lie down and listen to meditation music. I enjoy hearing all the different instruments and sounds and feeling gently relaxed by the music.
Available on Sonesence
17: Remember the potential benefits of meditation
Whenever you feel unmotivated to meditate or if you forget to practice for a while, remember the benefits of meditation and your intention for practicing.
18: Write about your experiences before and after meditation
You can learn a lot about yourself and your meditation practice by writing about your thoughts, feelings and mood before meditating and after meditating. Notice any changes, new perspectives, ideas, or effects which occurred during your meditation.
19: Accept your different experiences during meditation
You might feel anger, sadness, joy, calmness, or frustration during a meditation. You might have difficulty concentrating or it might feel effortless. A meditation which always resonates with you might suddenly feel weird and a meditation which used to challenge you might feel great. Accept that variation is totally normal during meditation and your experiences might vary greatly (and often!).
20: Finish your meditation slowly
Allow yourself to finish your meditation gently – try not to rush or dive straight into busy-ness. You might like to just sit and process your meditation experience for a minute or two. Your body may feel like it needs a few stretches. You could journal any thoughts, ideas or inspiration which popped up during your meditation. Listen to what you need and take things slowly, if you can.