Meditation is a powerful practice. The many benefits include improved focus, increased self-awareness, reduced anxiety, improved stress management skills, and improved sleep, to name a few.
But there’s a catch. In order to receive these benefits, you need to meditate consistently. This is not a magical technique that will fix all of your problems after sitting on a meditation cushion once a week or month. You need to build meditation into your daily routine to really alter your mind for the better.
Just like any habit, it takes time (and can be tough!) to build meditation into your life. There are all sorts of reasons people resist meditating. Maybe it’s hard to find the motivation. Maybe it’s hard to find the time. Maybe the thought of silently sitting alone with your thoughts is intimidating to you. Whatever your reasons for being inconsistent with meditation, you’re not alone.
So if you are convinced that meditation will help you, but you’re struggling to build a consistent practice into your life, the following tips will help.
Getting Clear with Your Meditation Goals
A great place to start when building a new habit is with your goals. Why do you want to build meditation into your life?
Getting clear with your goals will provide a target and help you stay consistent on days when you’re lacking motivation. Your goals not only include how frequently you want to meditate, but also WHY you want to meditate. For example, a goal might be, “I want to meditate for at least 10 minutes every day, to help me relax and learn to better manage irrational thoughts.”
Try to be as specific as you can with your goal. Some common reasons for meditating include:
- To improve my concentration so I can get back to reading a chapter in one sitting
- To relax before bedtime and sleep through the night
- To be more compassionate towards myself when I make a mistake
- To slow down during busy days at work
- To reduce my anxiety before it gets to a panic attack
Reminding Yourself to Meditate
The next step to building a meditation habit is to identify cues that will remind you to practice. Some examples include:
- Putting a post-it note on your bathroom mirror
- Adding a daily alarm on your phone
- Creating a meditation corner in your home
- Putting your meditation cushion next to your bed so you see it every day
- Saving your favorite meditation recording for easy access (on the home screen of your phone, the desktop of your computer, etc)
Some people benefit greatly from an accountability partner to remind them to meditate. This approach is especially helpful if you and your accountability partner are both starting to build the new habit at the same time. This way, both of you are receiving encouragement and motivation.
Overcoming Meditation Obstacles
The next step is to identify what obstacles may get in the way of you meditating consistently. You may not know what your obstacles are right now, so during the first week of your meditation practice, pay attention to the days that you forget to meditate or simply lack the motivation.
Soon, you will see what’s holding you back from meditating. Maybe you’re waking up too late, so you don’t have time to meditate before going to work. Maybe you’re avoiding a big decision, so you’re unconsciously avoiding silent time because you will be face-to-face with the dilemma.
We all have obstacles when starting a new habit. They will continue to hold you back until you become aware of them.
Putting Your Meditation Plan Together
Now it’s time to combine everything you’ve learned into your meditation plan. I suggest actually writing down your plan, either in a notebook, your phone, your computer, or your private journal in the Remble app. Your plan includes the following:
- Your meditation goals: Why you want to build meditation into your life - How frequently you want to meditate - How long each meditation session will be
- How you will remind yourself to meditate
- What obstacles may get in your way
- How you will overcome those obstacles
- Your progress toward your goals
Try to stick with your meditation goals for two weeks and then evaluate how you feel, including any mental, emotional, and physical changes you notice in yourself. If necessary, revise your meditation goals after the initial two weeks. For instance, if your initial goal was five minutes per day and you’re noticing that most days you feel as if you were just getting in the zone when the meditation ends, then you may want to extend your goal to 10 minutes per day.
Remember, it takes time and dedication to build a new habit, so be patient with yourself. After consistently meditating for a few weeks, you are bound to notice some pleasant changes that make your mind more of a friend than a foe.
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