How do I build a consistent meditation practice?
I’m not actually the best at creating new habits. I’m not even the most consistent meditator, particularly at the moment. That’s because I don’t have a lot of routine in my life right now.
Actually to be honest I resist routine for some reason. I think that’s because the idea of having routine makes me feel a bit trapped. On the flip side I know routines are essential, especially for getting shit done. It always makes me laugh when people who talk about creating healthy habits use brushing your teeth as an example. Because no-one questions brushing your teeth right? It’s just something you do every morning, it’s a non-negoiable. Well, a little secret about me – I’m really crap at remembering to brush my teeth. And I know somewhere there’s a whole lotto people going , ewwwwww gross! I can’t explain it. Even as a child I hated having to brush my teeth, it’s so boring! Plus I’ve been incredibly lucky to be blessed with good teeth – I’ve never had a filling in my life. If I had I might have been further motivated to keep up the brushing.
So because I recognised this about myself, for me what ended up happening was I dived in deep and went to a retreat environment in order to cement my own meditation practice. I spent 6-weeks there the first time and in total spent 6 months out of 12 meditating that year. Because of that, the impact meditation had on my happiness levels was swift and very obvious. Equally as obvious was the impact not meditating had on my life, if ever I started to feel was is now quite an unfamiliar feeling of anxiety or annoyance I quickly realise it’s because I haven’t made the time to meditate as much in the previous few days.
So that all played out in what was perfect for me and my journey.
If you’re starting out now though, it’s probably not practical to take 6 months off, move to spain and meditate full-time. So I would say start with this:
- Be super clear on what it is you want from meditation- be it more peace, more contentment, more joy. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t. i.e. focus of your desire for peace rather than your desire to be less stressed. For me, when my boyfriend died it was to be free of pain, free of grief.
- Make a commitment to yourself for 6 weeks and create some form of accountability around it. Whether that’s in the form of an accountability buddy, someone to do it with or report your progress to, some form of reward system and carve out the required time in your schedule to make it happen.
- Stick with one technique for that 6 weeks. Make absolutely no judgement on its effectiveness until that 6 weeks is up. Just do it, everyday, no arguments, no excuses and simply ignore all thoughts related to whether it is working or not (because trust me, those thoughts will be there).
- At the end of 6 weeks make note of any changes. How do you feel. How are you reacting in certain situations – the same or perhaps different. Perhaps things that used to trigger certain unwelcome behaviours or feelings in you aren’t happening quite so much anymore. And if you don’t think anything is different then ask the people around you if they have noticed anything.
Finally, I want to leave you with one of my all time favourite quotes:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
So as always there is no one right answer, and I don’t claim to be an expert on everything. What has helped for you? Share your tips for building a consistent meditation practice in the comments!