Today, we’re going to talk about how to make meditation a daily habit.
Make meditation a daily habit
When I read that meditation was the only process that actually helped your brain regenerate grey matter, I was determined to replace all those brain cells I had lost over the years.
It certainly motivated me to get started. Not only that, but we live in a world where we are constantly on. We’re always connected and rarely take a moment just to breathe.
Even while we’re doing things that should be private and precious, there still remains an urge to publicize each moment to social media or lose ourselves in thoughts of the past and the future.
By being so available to everyone else, it becomes hard to connect back to ourselves. For me, meditation serves as a point of both connection and disconnection.
Meditation, as it is most widely understood, involves a seated posture, closed eyes and directing your focus towards your breath.
The Practice of Meditation
What is meditation? According to Buddhist faith, meditation serves as a path towards enlightenment or nirvana.
It’s a practice of quietening the mind while concentrating your focus on something (which soon becomes nothing). Meditation comes in many forms — for example, my father still tries to convince me that his form of meditation involves playing golf five times a week.
I’ve always been an anxious person. When presented with new information, my mind will construct all kinds of elaborate worst-case scenarios, then replay them on loop until I shut down my brain through distraction, sleep, or—more often than not—beer.
If you’re looking to make meditation a daily habit, here are some tips that might help.
1. Be Realistic:
I used to think meditating meant sitting for hours in silence. But I discovered I was more likely to stick with it when I chose a short, realistic goal. I picked 15 to 20 minutes. Some days I only did 10 minutes, but I never put any pressure on myself to do more than 20.
2. Better in the Morning:
Even though any time is okay, but morning is when I have the most control over my time. It also put me in the right frame of mind going into my day.
If morning just isn’t convenient for you, I’d recommend choosing a specific time you have free every day—your lunch break, for instance. You might switch it up sometimes, but having meditation regularly built into your daily schedule helps a lot.
3. Do it anywhere and everywhere
Unlike exercising your body, you don’t get sweaty exercising your mind. So you can do it in your normal clothes, wherever you happen to be, and move on to the rest of your day. Here’s a list of some of the places I trained my mind in the last year:
- on a chair in my apartment
- on a park bench
- in hotel rooms in four countries
- hiding in the stairwell at work
I once assumed I needed a quiet place to meditate. But I found I could practice anywhere the noise was consistent—meaning there might be some noise, but because it didn’t change, I could tune it out.
One Sunday morning, I was meditating across the street from a preacher giving a loud sermon over a megaphone. My initial response was to tense up and think, “This is ruining my meditation!” But then I realized the megaphone made his voice muffled—like the adult voices in Charlie Brown cartoons. Once I accepted that the voice was part of my environment, I was able to tune it out and go on with my practice. However, if people are having audible conversations around you, maybe try somewhere else.
4. Be Consistent:
This was the number one factor in maintaining my daily habit. Once I committed to meditating every day, I didn’t want to break my streak.
5. Accept that you won’t be perfect
If your brain is half as self-critical as mine, your first thought will be, “I’m terrible at this. My mind’s just not built for meditation.” But that’s kind of the point. Meditation is practice. It’s training. And when you’re training, it’s ok to mess up.
There’s a meditation technique called Noting. If your mind wanders off, you’re supposed to pause, note what distracted you, and let it go. When I first tried this, every time I caught myself getting distracted, I got angry. “Crap! I’m distracted!” I’d think, “I suck at meditation!” But realizing you’re distracted is the point. So every time you mess up, you’re actually moving forward.
6. Make it about others
It’s easy to imagine meditation as very self-focused. But by taking care of my own mind, I’ve become more likely to treat others well. Developing skills like acceptance, patience, and empathy, are qualities that will benefit the people you care about. So if you don’t feel motivated to meditate for yourself, remember that doing it could help those around you.
7. Takes Time
Meditation is a wonderful thing, but it’s not a silver bullet. I still sometimes experienced anxiety, stress, and sadness; occasionally I’ll find myself in a negativity spiral and think, “This isn’t fair! I’m meditating every day!” (You can see I still have some room for improvement.)
The point is, feelings like stress and anxiety are part of life. Meditation isn’t going to get rid of them. But it gives me the tools to recognize those feelings when they arise and deal with them in a healthy, constructive way.
8. Enjoy the journey
Meditation is not something you do for a year, or two years or five years, and then you’re “cured.” It’s a thing you continue to practice and improve throughout your whole life. So rather than thinking ahead to how you’re hoping to feel later, try to enjoy your meditation sessions for what they are right now—little moments where you get to be calm and still, and take a break from the craziness of your regular life.
I hope this will help you make meditation a daily habit and improve your life.