Reach the Goal of Daily Meditation (Reference Article)
Author’s Key Points
- Realize short meditations are worthwhile when considering daily meditation
- Relabel what you’re doing
- Discover your thoughts are not the enemy
Meditation is worth it
Remember my post on meditation’s positive effect on anxiety, depression and pain? There are many reasons to establish a daily meditation practice. Beyond the general research on the matter, most individuals report finding more resilience in their day-to-day life, and greater ability to respond rather react to a given situation. (Sounds worthwhile to me!) The only trouble is, for someone new to the habit, it can be a little tough to get the ball rolling. That’s why I really liked this article for the author’s simple suggestions. Here are my additional thoughts —
(1) Start small when establishing a daily meditation habit
I am reminded of an article I read once, which unfortunately I cannot find at the moment. The author was suggesting when making a new habit, it’s helpful to tag it onto something we already do as a habit – one small step at a time until we build up to our goal activity. For example, if you want to start running, the first step of creating the new habit would be to put your shoes on and lace them up right after brushing your teeth. Simply put them on, lace the shoes. Pause. Then take them off and go onto your other activities. You’re just establishing the habit in the brain: “After I brush my teeth, I put on my running shoes. That’s just what I do.” Eventually, you might then after a few days or week, get them laced and just go out the front door. Pause. Go back in and do whatever. Etcetera.
When it comes to getting started with meditation – when would you like to move it in? Right when you wake up? Take one minute for a week. Then build up. Remember, it’s the long-haul that matters here – you want to build into a habit that lasts. So there’s no rush – only stability in the practice.
(2) Relabel/Redefine “Meditation”
This one’s really been true for me personally, not just in what meditation looks like, but also what meditation means. Know that not all meditation is sitting – so if there are times when moving your body feels more helpful, go for it! Meditation may also look like a mindful reflection practice. For me, I struggled a bit with the idea that meditation was some sort of ‘concentration’ practice that I, as such, perceived as ‘effortful.’ I think I also fell into the misconception that meditation must also mean “no thought,” i.e. an ’emptying of the brain practice.’ After about 9 years now of meditation, the breakthrough moment for me (in addition to the sure and steady breakdown of misconceived ideas through study and group practice) was something I heard in passing – that the Sanskrit word for meditation could also be translated as “familiarization.” Oh! That sounds much easier — like having a good chat with a friend – listening not for an intended end, but just to get to know them and what’s going on in their world. How easy!
On the subject of misconceptions, I will add there are many aspects of this “familiarization” and concentration is certainly a part of it – along with many, many other aspects. But the take home point for me here is, what do you need to believe about meditation to make the idea of it seem easy and appealing to you?
(3) Your thoughts are simply thoughts; and thoughts can change.
Thank the heavens for Louise Hay and her stating clearly for everyone in the world to hear, “Thoughts can change!” We can buy into them, or not. They are simply the product of a number of conditions coming together – our biology, genetics, lifestyle, experiences, life path, etc. When establishing a daily meditation habit, it can be helpful to both familiarize one’s self with their thoughts, but also to practice letting them pass, like clouds in the sky. This is seeing clearly and learning not to react, not to get caught up in them, to let go of rumination– even if it’s only for one minute of the day.
It becomes easier and easier to let your thoughts be your thoughts when you know you are changing, and you don’t have to believe what your thoughts are saying to you. In some ways, we might let them simply be the litmus test for where we are emotionally, what we are needing, and a testament to where we have been in this life. How lovely that we can always come back to the breath – there in the midst of whatever the brain is saying. The breath is always there to bring you home to the body.
How about you?
What’s helped you establish a daily meditation practice? Share your comments below!