November 1, 2016

How to Make Meditation a Daily Habit.

People are fond of meditation.

That’s great news.

The sad news is that many of us are incapable of making it into a daily habit. I can relate as I faced this issue for years.

I know how hard it is to make meditation a consistent part of our lives and how we’re apt to judge ourselves for feeling incapable of achieving a routine practice.

This was me the first year I was introduced to meditation. I took meditation courses twice a week and I told myself I would meditate daily (alone) outside the course. Truth be told—I rarely did.

My personal outlook on my meditation practice took a successful turn four months ago in India. I took an Introduction to Buddhism course that included three daily hours of meditation for 10 days and a Vipassana course that consisted of 16 hours of daily meditation for 12 days.

Twenty-two days straight of daily meditation set me on the right track.

At last, meditation has become a daily ritual and now I can actually discern what was missing for all that time when I was failing to stick with a routine practice.

The three main reasons why we aren’t implementing a daily meditation practice:

  1. Lack of motivation. (Why should I meditate?)
  2. Taking the benefits of meditation for granted. (There’s tomorrow, so why do it today?)
  3. Excuses. (Having something more “important” to do.)

The end-result is getting stuck in an endless self-defeating loop: we claim we want to meditate, we don’t meditate, repeat.

The people who have truly experienced the benefits of meditation are keen on breaking this compulsive cycle. They know if they incorporate meditation into their daily lifestyle, they will gain abundance on all levels.

If you are one of these people, I believe the following seven tips are essential to launching your daily practice.

1. Set a daily motivation.

Anything that we wish to do in life and end up not doing is caused by a shortage of motivation. One of the most profound things that I learned in Introduction to Buddhism is to set a daily motivation.

Every day as I wake up, I assure myself that today, I will be a good person, I will be calm and more understanding, I will help others and be a good listener. I assure myself many other things as well, but personally, I know that without meditation I wouldn’t be really practicing them. These traits are my daily motivation.

What are yours? Announce them every single day when you wake up.

2. Write down the benefits.

We take meditation for granted because sometimes we forget what it has to offer us. Every time you meditate, extract the benefits that you have experienced throughout your 10 minutes or half an hour of practice. Maybe you became calmer afterward or shifted your perspective positively with respect to a challenge you’re facing in your life.

Write down the benefits and read them every single day—they will help you remember why you’re practicing.

3. Create ways, not excuses.

Making excuses is easy—it’s what we’re best at. However, if we truly desire something, we will find the way to make it happen. If you’re really keen on practicing meditation on a daily basis, you will create the conditions to facilitate it.

In the past, I used to say that waking up early in the morning was an excuse to not meditate. Now, I try to go to bed early the day before so I won’t struggle the next day. I’m creating the conditions that will ease my practice.

4. Perceive it as a lifestyle.

A lot of people do not meditate as they perceive meditation as a must-do or some sort of homework. It’s very normal because as human beings we are bothered by what feels like an obligation.

The solution is to perceive meditation as a lifestyle rather than a daily responsibility.

5. Meditate daily at first.

We are creatures of habit. Everything that we do on a daily basis automatically becomes a routine. What set the tone for my daily practice was the 22 days of consistent meditation. At first, it was arduous but then my body and mind directly adapted to daily meditation.

That being said, for meditation to become a habit, we must make it a daily priority. Gradually, meditation will become a habit you can’t omit from your day.

6. Schedule it.

An essential thing in turning meditation into a daily habit is to establish a schedule for it. Set a specific time in which you wish to meditate and stick to that time. I usually wake up around 6:00 a.m. and do my first morning practice.

7. Drop your expectations.

One reason that we drop meditation altogether or pause for a couple of days is that we’re not sensing any results. For a fruitful, long-term meditation, try to drop all your expectations. Do not set expectations of where meditation is leading you, what it will change in you, or how it will benefit your life. Our daily life is a mixture of ups and downs. So, when we trip at the slightest down, we will give ourselves a hard time and get angry with meditation for not helping us.

Meditation is a journey, not a destination. Every practice is fruitful and the process is longer than we think. Therefore, don’t expect—just experience.


Author: Elyane Youssef

Image: @elephantjournal on Instagram

Editor: Caitlin Oriel

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