What to do after you have finished your meditation?
You are sitting in your meditation posture and the end of your dedicated meditation session nears. The sound of the gong marks the end of the session and then … yes, what then?
The best thing to do after the end of a meditation session is to try to consolidate the progress you have just made. You can do this by doing an activity that still keeps your attention engaged like reviewing your session, journaling, or doing an informal meditation practice.
These activities should not take you more time than you already had allotted for meditation, but they will speed up the progress you make in meditation, so they are important.
So let’s review the why, how, and what to do after a sit.
- Why is it important what you do after meditation?
- The very first things to do after meditation
- Activities to engage in after meditation
- Practice for your hobby, make some art
- What to avoid right after meditation
Why is it important what you do after meditation?
The time just after meditation can be likened to the time just after sports. You can just go home and do nothing, but serious sporters usually take a cool-down period where they stretch, unwind or otherwise take a moment to enjoy or reflect on what they have just accomplished.
The same goes for meditation.
You have just spend a certain amount of time taking care of yourself and that is excellent. But reflect on why you really meditate. It is probably because you want to be happier in some way.
So you need to take the calm of the meditation into your daily life to reap the most benefit of your practice.
The time you spent just after the sit is crucial for this. If you abruptly get up and start an unrelated activity, your subconscious mind will not understand that the calm and peace you get from focussing or being mindful is to be continued into your daily activities.
Therefore, we need to take some time to make this relationship clear to ourselves.
Furthermore, the best moment to learn about an activity is just after the activity since it is fresh in our memory. So if there are points to be improved, or rejoiced in, now is the moment. There will never be a better one.
The very first things to do after meditation
When you finish meditating, there are two crucial things you need to do.
you should congratulate yourself for taking care of yourself. You should genuinely feel good about yourself.
This has nothing to do with having an inflated ego. It has everything to do with positive reinforcement. If you feel good about yourself after doing a meditation, you will be more likely to do it again. Even in times when you do not feel like doing it.
This is actually a very important point!
It also means you need to congratulate yourself even if you think the meditation was bad.
As you have certainly heard many times, there is no such thing as a bad meditation. If you do a meditation, it can be that you had a very unruly mind that day and you had trouble concentrating. But since you tried anyway, it makes it a good meditation. You persevered!
So in a sense, you deserve more praise for meditating with a mind that jumps all over the place than for one where you feel calm all the time.
Ok, I agree the latter is much more fun. I prefer these sessions also. But honestly, in the beginning, the rough sessions are to be expected and dealt with by sheer grind.
you should generate a strong intention to regain some of your mindfulness and alertness when you move into your daily activities.
In meditation, the active part we all must play is to generate intention. Everybody forgets the meditation object. And everybody loses his mindfulness when engaging with daily activities.
But by holding a strong intention, over and over again, we slowly but surely start to be more mindful in daily activities.
The caveat here is to not expect this to happen anytime soon.
You should give this weeks, or months of repetition before seeing an improvement.
As you form this intention, also act it out while getting off your cushion or chair. Do at least this activity in a mindful manner. Do it slow and deliberate. It is the perfect transition from meditation to normal life.
Activities to engage in after meditation
Now that we have taken care of the bare minimum, we could even strengthen the effect of the meditation even further by engaging in some simple mindful activities.
Some of these require a bit of extra time to be set apart. That is not an option for everybody.
But for those of you with very little time to spare, carefully planning the activities you do, can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of the practice.
Let’s start off with a time-consuming activity.
Journalling right after meditation
If you want to take your meditation to the next level, you will need to learn from every one of your sessions.
What went well? What did not go as expected? Where could I possibly improve on next time? Did I get some insights during my meditation?
The answers to these questions will help you progress much quicker if you write them down.
Yes, continued practice will also show you these things as you will hit the same roadblock over and over again until you bypass it. And due to the repeated exercise, you will get to know your strengths and weaknesses eventually.
But writing them down does two things for you.
First, you will take a short amount of time to reflect on these questions before jotting down the answer. Something you will not do it you just get up after the meditation.
And secondly, when you reread your answers, the next day or when you review the last week, patterns will start to emerge.
And believe me, these patterns might surprise you.
I had this made clear to me in a great way during a week-long retreat. To be honest, I did not take notes after each meditation, but since we did eight hours of meditation a day, so this speeds things up greatly 😉
In the middle of the week, it suddenly hit me. I was grumpy in the morning. Something I always denied. Although my wife repeatedly told me. The poor woman.
But that day, I resolved to be less grumpy. And, well, I only succeeded partly, but at least now I am aware of it and do not try to deny it anymore.
So, if you have some time, reflect 1-2 minutes after the meditation and write down what you found in 1 or 2 sentences.
Going for a mindful walk
To prolong the mediation, you could schedule a walk just after it.
We should make sure we have enough movement every day. And walking is one of the best ways to get this.
I recommend that you schedule some daily movement regardless if you meditate or not. But, stringing them together has the huge benefit that you can do the walk mindfully.
You will come out of the mediation with a strengthened sense of mindfulness. You can leverage this effect in your walk. it will be so much easier to be mindful in your daily stroll when you just meditated.
Doing some chores after meditation
The other great thing to schedule after meditation is to do some chores.
Here, no time is lost. You need to do them anyway. Equally, we will leverage the mindfulness gained in the prior exercise to make our chores a mindfulness practice.
Meditation instructors often tell their students to pick one activity per day and do this mindfully.
What they often forget to say is that this becomes so much easier when you do it right after your sit.
And the effect is the same. you practice mindfulness in daily activities. The exact thing you started meditating for in the first place.
Practice for your hobby, make some art
One of the great things to do after meditation is to practice something else you like doing.
Like playing an instrument or do some painting.
The heightened sense of awareness will help you greatly help and improve your creativity.
The commonality of all the thing you can do after meditation
I have given several examples of things you can do right after meditation. But they all have something in common.
And that is the fact that they are usually done alone and are not too distracting.
These two points are very important. You should choose activities that have a high probability to prolong the effects of the meditation. There should at least be some probability that you can remain mindful.
This is especially so in the beginning. So, keep this in mind when evaluating a potential activity.
What to avoid right after meditation
Keeping the previous paragraph in mind, It not so difficult to find examples where you will have problems keeping your mindfulness.
Watching TV, drinking alcohol, or starting a discussion with some housemates will all quickly deplete your mindfulness. Especially when you are in the beginning stages of meditation. And these beginning stages last for some years, in my experience.
It’s not that there is something wrong with any of these activities. I do all of them occasionally. It is just that they will deplete you faster of what you gained in meditation than for instance doing some chores.
Features image courtesy of Pixabay.
Hi, I’m Olivier Devroede and I have been meditating seriously since 2009.
Due to the great benefits I have seen in meditating, I decided to become an MBSR trainer myself and start a blog.