Unlike some challenges, daily meditating requires no physical exertion or dietary discipline. You don’t have to drop and do twenty, look the other way at an alluring cinnamon bun, or say no to an appealing glass of pinot. All you have to do is sit quietly for twenty minutes. But I get it: this is still a huge hurdle for many— and it’s not necessarily because we’re all so busy. Here are ten ways to make meditation part of your day, whether you’ve never practiced before or have been a yogi all your life.


Transcendental meditation fits my personality, lifestyle, and mood the best, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right type for you. There are dozens of ways to practice, so talk with friends, do some research, and look online. You may even want to experiment first with a meditation app like Headspace, Buddhify, or Calm, all of which can expose you to different forms of the practice so you can see what works best for you. Some gyms and fitness centers also offer meditation classes, or if you’re type A like me, look for courses at your local university or spiritual center. There are also many online courses you can take— just be sure to do a little research first to make sure you go with a reputable site.


Many Americans have a negative perception of meditation, thinking it simply involves doing nothing for a period of time to attain some vague, unquantifiable effects. But research unquestionably concludes meditation has a real, profound impact on our physical, mental, and emotional health, even changing how our brains grow and genes function. For this reason, meditation is just as critical to your health and well-being as proper hygiene, exercise, and diet. Would you go a day without brushing your teeth? Meditation should be as nonnegotiable as this.


I can’t reiterate how much more focused and productive I felt during the days I meditated in the morning. If you think you don’t have time to meditate, I guarantee if you take just twenty minutes to try it, you’ll discover you’ll make the time up tenfold by being more productive, focused, and effective the rest of the day. The majority of the busiest and most successful people I know in the world meditate daily, if not twice daily. Learn from their example.


This is the easiest and most effective way for many to make meditation a daily habit— it’s certainly the best method for me and others I know who meditate regularly. Otherwise, it’s all too easy to get busy and preoccupied with professional and personal obligations, as you put meditation on your mental back burner until you realize it’s too late and the day is over. Once you get out and start your day, it can also be difficult to slow down, mentally and physically, in order to get into the proper headspace to sit still for twenty minutes. Finally, there’s a huge benefit to morning meditation: it boosts positivity, productivity, and overall mood, setting you up to embrace the day as soon as you open your eyes from your practice.


This can be critical  to your monthly success if you live with a spouse, children, roommates, or needy pets. Before the month begins, choose a place in your home where you won’t be disturbed and where you can meditate every morning. Knowing you have a go- to spot on the first day will also make the practice less intimidating and easier to adopt. I mostly meditated in my bed, where I was never disturbed by my kids or dog, Mason. Also, like any other habit, establishing consistency is the best way to turn a new practice into a daily custom.


While I strongly believe morning meditation is the best way to make the practice a daily habit, there are inevitably those days when you can’t wake up thirty minutes early or meditate before you leave the house, like in the instance of a super early flight. But as I’ve discovered, if there’s a will, there’s a way. For example, in the instance of an early flight, I’ve found meditating on airplanes is easy and immeasurably beneficial, helping to alleviate both the boredom and the stress of air travel.

If you have to rush out the door for an early meeting, there’s nothing wrong with meditating in the office. When I do it, I shut the door and put a Do Not Disturb sign on it to let people know I’m busy, and I silence the ringer on my office phone and mobile, as well as email alerts on my computers.

Another good spot for a spontaneous meditation session is in the car. I’ve meditated there many times while waiting to pick Chloe up from a hockey game. You can also meditate in a quiet room or a closed- door yoga studio at your gym or fitness center, which some people find convenient to do after a workout. Finally, meditating outside on a beach, in a park, or even in your own backyard can be peaceful and conducive to your practice. Remember, what’s more important than where you do it is doing it in the first place.


Don’t gamble with your time like I did once during my challenge by forgetting to turn off your phone. You may assume no one will call, text, or email you in the morning, but it’s a risk you don’t need to take, especially if you go through the effort of waking up early. Moreover, getting interrupted by a beep, ding, or ring when you’re meditating is particularly jarring— and no way to start your day. Nearly any call or text can wait twenty minutes until you finish your practice.


No matter which type of meditation you choose, use a timer so that your practice has structure. A timer, whether you download an app to your phone, use a stopwatch, or set a traditional kitchen timer, will allow you to focus fully on your practice, preventing your mind from wondering how long you’ve been sitting or how much longer before you can open your eyes.


Telling the people you love and trust in your life that you’re meditating can help you feel proud of your practice and reinforce the positivity that meditation brings. During my Meditation Challenge, my only regret was not telling more friends, colleagues, and patients that I had started to practice again. If I had, it not only would have added even more energy to the challenge, it also would have corroborated my commitment to doing it daily. And as I learned during my dry month and throughout the year, announcing any challenge out loud to friends and family makes the mission more real while increasing your accountability to see it through.


Meditation is not necessarily easy for everyone. For some, it’s a foreign concept that causes anxiety as you struggle with what to do and how to do it. But I strongly believe that anyone can meditate, and as long as you’re attempting to calm your mind, then you’re accomplishing your goal, no matter what any yogi or instructor says. Don’t beat yourself up if you get restless. Leverage the compassion meditation teaches and turn it inward. If anything, use your practice to learn how to be kind to yourself and grant yourself permission to fail. Meditating, at its very base, is about creating self- love, not new reasons to feel like a failure. Even if you simply have the desire to meditate, you’re already halfway there, accomplishing the practice’s intent of opening your heart to yourself and new possibilities.

Excerpt from THE SELF CARE SOLUTION by Jennifer Ashton, M.D. Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Ashton, M.D. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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  • ABC News’ Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, is the country’s leading voice of Women’s Health. Dr. Ashton is a board-certified OB-GYN, author and is board-certified in Obesity Medicine. Dr. Ashton is a graduate of Columbia College, Columbia University. She then received her medical degree from Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, where she was elected Class President for four consecutive years. Upon graduation, she was awarded the prestigious Bartlestone Award in Pharmacology. Dr. Ashton received her post-graduate training in women’s health and surgery at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in NYC, an affiliate of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. She served as Administrative Chief Resident and was awarded Chief Resident of the Year upon completing her residency. She received a Master of Science Degree in Nutrition from the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons Institute of Human Nutrition in 2016, making Dr. Ashton one of the only M.D.'s with a national media platform who also has a degree in Nutrition. She is one of the few physicians with media platforms who still sees patients and has an active medical practice for women’s gynecology and obesity/weight management. Since 2012, she has also been the Senior Medical Contributor for Good Morning America and World News Tonight, ABC News. From 2009-2011, Dr. Ashton was the Medical Correspondent for CBS News Network, where she received the prestigious Columbia Alfred DuPont Award for Excellence in Journalism for her work. Dr. Ashton is the author of three books: Eat This Not That When Expecting, The Body Scoop for Girls, and Your Body Beautiful. Dr. Ashton also has a monthly feature column, "Ask Dr. Ashton", in Cosmopolitan Magazine. In January 2010, Dr. Ashton travelled to Haiti with a medical team where she treated victims of the earthquake for 8 days. Dr. Ashton is a frequent keynote speaker and moderator for national events with topics ranging across all women’s health, wellness, and prevention. She is committed to improving the lives of girls and women through increasing health literacy and busting myths that have been propagated via folklore with little medical or scientific basis. She has a ‘girlfriend’s’ approachable demeanor with Ivy League credentials that combine to make her the definitive voice for Women’s Health in the modern age. As a mom of 2 teenagers, Dr. Ashton not only ‘talks the talk’ but ‘walks the walk’, proving that commitment to good nutrition, fitness, sleep and stress reduction are the cornerstones to health and wellness. With her MD, and credentials in Nutrition, along with her accomplishments as a triathlete, cyclist and fitness enthusiast, Dr. Ashton is as comfortable discussing the latest workout or diet trend, as she is counseling on cancer screening or reproductive health issues facing women.