Lots of people try meditation and, seeing the benefits it can bring to their lives, want to make it a daily part of their lives. But it seems that lots of people struggle to make it that daily habit that they would like it to be. Or the habit comes and goes – there are months where it’s an everyday thing, and then we ‘forget’ to meditate for weeks on end! I know because I have had periods like this over the years!
Why do so many of us struggle to meditate as regularly as we would like? And how can we make it an every day part of our lives?
While there is no easy formula for success, I am going to try and give you one! I’ve come up with six key steps to get you meditating every day.
SIX STEPS TO A MEDITATION HABIT
- Find the motivation – what’s the juice for you?
- Make it easier by removing the barriers.
- Be compassionate about your meditation – be realistic, lower your expectations and give yourself a break!
- Make it a habit using proven habit-forming psychology.
- Experiment and try out different approaches then tweak what you’re doing so it works for you.
- Celebrate and reflect on your practice and the changes you have noticed.
There is a lot to these Six Steps so I am going to break it down and write about just one of these each week. Each time there will be an Action Step at the end to get you started.
STEP 1 – Find the motivation – what’s the juice for you?
So why do you really want to meditate? What’s in it for you (to be blunt!)? Tap into this and it will help you find the “juice” in the practice.
You know when you bite into a cool, juicy orange and the juice drips down your chin and you gobble the orange up all up in one go? Compare this to a dry old orange that doesn’t have much juice – you probably put that one in the bin. So find the juice in meditation for you which will keep you going back for more.
Where do you find this? Well, reflect for a minute: Why do I want to meditate? What brought me to learn meditation in the first place?
So it might be some specific health benefits – you want to sleep better, have fewer headaches, or heal yourself from depression or anxiety. After meditating for some time, did you notice any positive changes with these issues? Maybe you only noticed minor changes, but was that enough to spur you on?
What about your stress and worry levels? Do you meditate to get some distance from worry, obsessive planning and fears? Feel into that spacious or calm mind and body that you may often feel after a meditation session. Remember it now and reconnect with how it feels.
For others meditation is more about being more focused, clear-headed and effective. Have you noticed what your mind-state is like after meditation? Has this clarity and concentration filtered through to your work or getting things done day to day? Remember what this mind-state of a clear and focused mind is like.
Feeling or remembering these benefits and changes in your body and mind will remind you what you came to meditation for.
But a disclaimer! I am not suggesting that every time you sit down to meditate you are guaranteed to get these benefits straight away. You get these benefits and the positive change over time – an accumulation of time spent meditating. You might feel great after your next sit, but there is also the chance you won’t since every sit is different.
So what I am suggesting is that you tap into what feels right and good about meditating for you and let this feed your motivation to sit and practice each day.
Writing this brought me to reflect on what is the “juice” of meditation for me. What motivates me these days and what motivated me in the beginning? This has changed over the years.
To put it simply – I meditate these days because meditation has made me a happy person. Each time I meditate I reconnect with this feeling in my body: a sense of expansive, heart-opening contentment that exists far beyond my thoughts and my identity and my busy-ness. So this feeling (or the memory of it) brings me to the cushion to meditate each time.
Through meditation and mindfulness I found a freedom from unhappiness, pain and anxiety. But I’ll tell you about all that another day …..
ACTION STEP: Take out a piece of paper and write down: Why do I want to meditate? What brought me to learn meditation in the first place?
Just write for 5-10 minutes, whatever comes to mind write it down (like stream of consciousness). Then go back and re-read it. Take a different (brightly) coloured pen and circle the 1, 2 or 3 main motivations that jump out at you. Rewrite it clearly on a new sheet of paper if you want to. Stick this on the wall or in your diary, somewhere you can look at it regularly. Reread it at least once a week.
Next time I will look at Step 2 – Removing the barriers to meditating. Until then, wishing you well in connecting with the juice of your meditation.