I was looking at some of the older posts on this blog and when I first launched it I was still off and on with meditation. These days I’m happy to say I do have a regular practice. I meditate on average about 5 times per week for 20 – 30 minutes. In retrospect here are a few of the factors that helped me finally develop a regular practice.
Find the time of day that suits you best
I experimented meditating at various times of the day. I found that in the evening I was apt to fall asleep, or just skip it if I was already too tired. Midday or afternoon meditations were pleasant but on days where I was busy or felt stressed about work, I found that I didn’t allow myself the time to meditate. Mornings turned out to be the best time for me. I get up, go set the coffee-maker (doing this activity wakes me up so that I don’t fall back asleep on the cushion!), then settle down to meditate.
Adjust your schedule accordingly
Once I discovered the time of day that worked best, I realized that I needed to change my schedule a little to accommodate the extra time for meditation. So basically I get up around 6 or 6:30 and that leaves me at least 30 minutes to meditate before I start my workday around 7 (I work at home). Carving out this regular time and scheduling it into my day made all the difference for me. It relieved me of any underlying guilt – thoughts like, ‘I should be working.’ And this puts me in a better frame of mind to dedicate myself to the meditation session.
My level of commitment to wanting to meditate deepened and gave me the impetus to create my schedule around it. If you are not truly committed to wanting a practice, you’re much less likely to make the necessary changes. Without being prepared to adjust your schedule and create the time for it, it just won’t happen. If you are currently not meditating because you’re ‘too busy’, you won’t suddenly find the time unless you actively make room for it. Once you create and adjust to your new routine, meditation will become a part of your every day life instead of something you just ‘squeeze in’ when you have the chance.
Drop attachment to “progress”
I think this is another really important factor. I don’t look at my meditation practice like something I’m trying to ‘achieve’ or with some tangible end result in mind. Yes, I have intention to develop more mindfulness etc but I don’t expect each day’s meditation to be ‘better’ than the last. While there’s definitely a deepening of practice and technique that happens over time; on a day-to-day basis each session is different. Some days my mind doesn’t seem to settle at all, while other days I can drop in much more easily. I try to look at every session as a good one simply because I did it.
Do you have a regular meditation practice? If not, what is holding you back?