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Presented in partnership with Meditation Studio.

New Year’s resolution season can make January feel like more of a self-care pressure cooker than a soothing time for reflection and growth. That’s why we prefer the idea of self-investment to self-improvement this time of year. By investing in what your body, mind, and soul need to keep you feeling good, you’ll stay focused on doing a service for yourself not to yourself all year.

If moments of reflection are telling you your body is craving more calm, quiet, relaxation, focus, or clarity in 2019, resolve to make it the year you turn to meditation (instead of coffee!). We know, we know – where does one even start? With a simple plan, you can begin to find moments of solitude, presence, and self-determination on a more regular (and frequent!) basis.

1. Set your goals and intentions upfront

Meditation is the practice of untangling your thoughts, and separating yourself from emotions so you can more calmly observe – not react to – events as they take place in the world around you.

Before jumping into which style of meditation you want to try, take some time to jot down intentions for your practice. Are you hoping to find a way to start your day on a more balanced note or more interested in benefits for your sleep? Are you in it to settle some jitters or will it be part of a greater effort to de-stress after work?

Once you take the time to reflect on the “why” behind your practice, you’ll be able to fill in the how – how much time to set aside, how to make every minute count, and how to pursue meditation consistently.

Tip: Want some help with setting intentions? Try “Morning Intention,” a meditation in the Day to Night Collection on the Meditation Studio app.

2. Take the steps to make it a habit

If you’ve ever tried (and failed! 🙋‍♀️) to set a resolution before, you probably know that you can’t just will it to happen. Like building any muscle group at the gym, it takes repetition and discipline. So, this time, if you’ve got your eye on meditation as a practice, first set your sights on building a habit around it.

According to Meditation Studio Co-Founder, Patricia Karpas, the key is starting small. “One way to start building your meditation habit is to start small by just meditating for a few minutes each day. This will help you get used to taking time out for yourself and you’ll begin to see how calm and grounded it makes you feel.”

Tip: Try a two-minute guided meditation in Meditation Studio’s Quick Breaks collection. “Productivity Break” by Chrissy Carter will remind you how important it is to just take a break to actually be more productive overall.

Experts agree that building a habit can take two to three weeks of consistency – so be patient with yourself. One tip we have for holding yourself accountable is literally scheduling it into your calendar ahead of time those first few weeks. Even if your meditations look a little different every day for those first few weeks, you’ll be doing valuable personal research on what you respond well to and what doesn’t feel quite right.

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3. Figure out what style of meditation works for you

In order to fully incorporate meditation into your routine, you may need to begin with some trial-and-error – that’s okay! Since there are many different kinds of meditation, it’s worth it to explore themes and topics that parallel your interests or concerns. If you’re using an app like Meditation Studio, you can choose from collections built around everything from stress to happiness, relationships , and confidence to guide your focus and energy where you need it to be.

Tip: Try fan favorites “Let Things Be” or “Set Daily Focus” to get a taste of different styles.

Remember when you set your intentions earlier? Use those to inform which types of meditation practice you try first. By going in with a plan, you’ll be more likely to stick with this new venture.

4. Choose an instructor that fits your vibe

With guided meditation, you may find it valuable to try a few different instructors on for size. By understanding their different styles, you can gain a better understanding of your own needs, expectations, and meditation must-haves.

Karpas puts it best, “Choosing your favorite instructors can be very personal so don’t be afraid to experiment to find your own groove. It’s all about the combination of voice, style, and the actual inspirational content.”

Tip: You might like Franko Heke’s soothing New Zealand accent or Patricia O’Keefe's gorgeous Irish voice or Melli O’Brien’s calming Australian accent. The more you explore, the more you’ll find your favorites.

When it comes to meditation, remember that personalization extends beyond guides to time, frequency, and focus too. As you begin to explore different themes and styles, make a mental note of your personal answer to the following questions:

Once you take some of the heavy lifting out of the equation by incorporating a guided practice, it really just becomes about showing up – and that’s exactly how it should be.

Presented in partnership with Meditation Studio App. Try your first year for just $34.99 ($49.99 value) here.

Lede image via @theslowtraveler.