WEEK 1 Day 1: Set an intention
“When you begin to develop a practice, take some time to do some stream-of-consciousness writing in a journal,” Ash suggests. “Reflect on where your life is right now: What’s going on with you? How are you feeling? What in your life needs attention? For example, if you realize, I need to grieve the loss of someone important to me
, you might decide to take up gratitude journaling, where you offer thanks for what you received from this person. Allow yourself to get clear on what you need, and then let that shape what your wellness practice looks like.”Day 2: Meditate for five-ish minutes
“When I hear people say that they want to start meditating, they're usually like, Okay, I'm going to meditate for 25 minutes a day, every day
,” Ash says. “Believe me when I say that 25 minutes is going to feel like three hours. I now practice Vedic meditation
which entails 22 minutes a day, twice a day, but I started my meditation practice committing to five minutes and built from there — it wasn't an overnight thing.” Pick whatever number feels do-able, even if that’s one minute.
Also, if you want to meditate at night, go for it. “I like meditating in the morning because it sets the tone for the rest of the day, but some people find that adding one more thing to their morning routine is overwhelming, and evening works best for them,” Ash says. “It all depends on the individual and what they have going on.”
At this stage, it’s more important to create a ritual that feels fun. “Light some incense or a candle, turn on some ambient music, and allow yourself to feel good,” Ash says. Lie down if you want to, or prop your back against a wall. “There’s this idea that meditation is sitting perfectly still, with a straight spine and crossed legs. Sure, in certain meditation traditions that’s the case, but for beginners, it’s important to be comfortable.”
As for the nitty-gritty how to? “I’m a big proponent of mindfulness meditation, which allows you to cultivate awareness about what you’re feeling,” Ash says. “To begin, close your eyes and focus on your breath, without changing it. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and your body as you inhale and exhale. From there, shift your awareness to all the sounds in the room, then recognize the thoughts that are in your mind.” And expect your mind to wander. “It isn’t about quieting our minds. Our minds are intended to think and project, and to go back and reflect,” Ash says. “Mindfulness meditation is about allowing yourself to exist above all of your mind’s chatter, and see what is actually going on.” Day 3: Write one paragraph in your journal
“It could be bullet points listing what you thought about or learned or realized throughout the day, it could be a gratitude list, or it could be a list of affirmations or desires. The point is to write something down, and consistency is key," Ash says. "I’ve gone through four or five journals this year alone, and I can't emphasize how valuable they’ve been as a means of documenting who I am and who I'm becoming. Journaling doesn't have to take any one form — really allow yourself to make the practice your own.” Plus: Meditate for your chosen time.Day 4: Slow down your morning routine
“You can apply a meditative approach to anything — brush your teeth but instead of rushing, be really mindful of every single stroke,” Ash explains. “It’s the same with washing your face or taking a shower — slow down, love your body, and really feel your being as you wake up.”Plus: Meditate for your chosen time.Write one paragraph in your journal.Day 5: Bring in community by opening up to a friend.
“Community is so important to wellness; we aren’t meant to journey alone. If you feel ready, open up to a friend and share what you need,” Ash says. “This could be something as simple as saying, Hey, I've realized that I really need to start focusing on healing from trauma.
Identify who in your community you can share yourself with and practice vulnerability, knowing you needn’t be perfect, scripted, or get anything ‘right.’”Plus: Meditate for your chosen time.Write one paragraph in your journal.