Meditation: Just Do It
In our experience many people find establishing a regular meditation and mindfulness practice difficult. Those same people brush their teeth every day (2 minutes), wash the dishes (5 minutes), watch Netflix (a few hours..). Many of those same people go to the gym regularly and get through one hundred and one important tasks during their day, but they still can’t sit down, shut up, and watch their breath. Why is this?
For many people when they first learn about the benefits of meditation, rather than setting realistic goals, they set out to practice for 15, 20 or 30 minutes per day. This goes well for the first week as enthusiasm is still high for the ‘newness’ of the experience. As it becomes more normal, all of a sudden days come and go without any practice at all, we forget, we get ‘too busy’ and our mind training practice moves to the bottom of the priority pile. So how can we start, build, and continue a lifelong meditation practice that will support and nourish us throughout our lives? Here’s our top suggestions to get your butt on the cushion (or chair, or floor, or wherever you happen to be) every day:
1. Set yourself realistic goals: If that means committing to 1 minute of practice per day to begin with, better to do that and to acknowledge that effort of 1 minute than only practising if you have time for a much longer session. Every single minute helps to build a practice and a habit.
2. Know why you are practising: Be clear on what it was that initially drew you to the practice. Was it a desire to feel calmer, less anxious, or just to have a few moments for yourself during the day? Keep this ‘why’ clear in your mind always to motivate you to practice.
3. Understand what stops you from practising: Often our excuses not to practice become so habitual we don’t even realise they have happened. It might be because we tell ourselves we have no time, or we are too tired, or we need to finish the house work first. Start to take note of what thoughts come up for you when you decide NOT to practice, write them down if necessary. Ask yourself whether these are credible reasons not to practice or whether it’s just your mind doing what it does so well…. Distracting you with something it thinks is more interesting.
4. Normalise it: Whether you practice at home or in a meeting room at work, don’t be afraid to let others know that’s what you are doing. It will then become much easier to say to your husband for example, ‘yes I’d love to go out to lunch with you, just give me 15 minutes first as I want to do my meditation practice’. If you work somewhere you think you couldn’t be open about it, the washrooms are also a great place to practice. We have been there and done it many a time.
5. Find joy in your practice: Once you’ve got your butt down to practice, try to find joy in what you are doing and see the practice as a reward to yourself. Experiencing joy within your practice is a sure-fire way to get you back to it day after day. Let go of thoughts about it being difficult, or boring and if those thoughts do come up, see them for what they are, just thoughts, smile at them and let them go.
6. If all else fails, audit your day: If you are still struggling to start and continue a practice, we challenge you for one typical day in your life to write down the time you spend on every single activity, including social media, watching TV, procrastinating about whether to practice at all and all the other things you do. Having done that, realistically think about how much practice time you can commit to every day. Is it 1 minute, 10 minutes or 30 minutes. We aren’t suggesting you don’t enjoy the pleasure of Netflix or social media, but bringing awareness to how much time you really have can be a powerful way of helping you to establish a regular routine and practice that fits well with your lifestyle.
If you have any questions for us and want any further advice on starting and continuing your practice get in touch.