In my opinion, one of the hardest things to do in life is start a new habit. Sure we all have habits but unfortunately, most of them were created unconsciously. What’s worse, most of our habits are extremely unhealthy!
The science on habit formation is just as daunting as the way it feels. Basically, scientific research tells us that most people fail in creating a positive new habit because the process for doing so is downright hard!
In other words, there’s no such thing as an overnight habit!
Now if you take into consideration how hard it is to form a habit with how difficult it is to meditate, then no wonder “starting a meditation practice” is always at the top of the list of things people WANT to do but never ACTUALLY do…
In this article I will provide you will 5 ways to establish a positive meditation practice in your life. My hope is that after reading this post, you take the leap of faith and begin your meditation practice tomorrow!
We’ve all probably heard this acronym by now, but most of us have never actually applied this framework to creating habits that will yield positive results in our lives.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for: specific, measurable, attainable,relevantand time-bound.
So to apply this habit-forming framework to a meditation practice we must be intentional in how we map out our new habits.
We must be specific on how long we want to meditate, we must find a way to measure our progress (could be as simple as marking your calendar), we shouldn’t set goals that are too high and that don’t help us achieve the positive results we say we want in life, and we must have a start/end date so we can measure our progress.
Ultimately, a S.M.A.R.T. meditation habit is one that sticks. So if you want to create a practice of your own, make sure it’s S.M.A.R.T.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Taking big ass bites and not pacing ourselves throws us off the path of positive habit formation because we paint an unrealistic picture of what it takes to get what we say we want.
For instance, how many of us know someone who claims they want to get in shape. But after only two or three weeks of working out on a daily basis, these people are spent and before you know it, they are right back to their old tricks; performing all the bad habits they said they wanted to quit.
The same thing goes for starting a meditation practice. We shouldn’t think that we have to become enlightened after our first session. Furthermore, we need to realize that forcing meditation won’t necessarily fix our problems. In fact, it might even make them worse.
Instead, we must take baby steps—i.e. start with a 5-minute meditation and work your way up.
Before we know it, we’ll be doing twenty- or thirty-minute meditations with ease but it doesn’t happen overnight!
Consistency over quality
Let’s face it there’s going to be days, many days even, that we don’t have time to fit in our complete meditation practice…
But that’s okay!
Here’s what I’ve learned about starting a meditation habit: sitting for 1 minute of meditation as opposed to skipping the entire day because I got “busy” keeps me on track!
For me, if I skip the entire day because I got super busy it’s much easier for me to convince myself that, “Since I didn’t meditate at all yesterday, I might as well skip the rest of the week and start my habit over again next week.”
Conversely, even going just an inch deep on a one-minute meditation yields positive results. I count any time spent on the cushion as a win and thus, the cycle of virtuous behavior can continue to sustain itself.
So the next time you don’t have time: sit for one minute! Stay on track and don’t take yourself out of at least spending some time on the things you say you want.
Ask for help
Depending on how you are motivated you might want to consider asking someone for help in creating a new meditation habit. For the most part, people can be considered either internally or externally motivated—not to say ones better than the other.
If you’re like me and you’re pretty self-motivated, then perhaps enlisting outside help isn’t necessary. On the other hand, if you’re like many other people who have no problem sticking to a diet a long as they’re doing it with your friends, then asking for help might be useful.
The great news is that there are thousands of ways for us to ask for help when it comes to meditation. For starters, we can always download an app or join a social media group made up of a like-minded and supportive community.
If for some crazy reason the interwebs can’t satiate our need for help, then there’s always a local meditation group or even local Buddhist church that we can seek for guidance.
Point is, in today’s society there’s no reason that you can’t get help! All it takes a little intention and a little effort!
Smell the damn roses!
It’s all too easy for us to get caught up in “the next milestone” or “the next achievement” but it you ask me, this is a surefire way to create a meditation habit that won’t last…
I don’t know about you, but I obsess over missing a single meditation practice. If you’re like this, chances are you’ve probably never stopped to think about all amazing things meditation and this new habit have manifested in your life.
In other words, we get caught up in the destination, not the journey.
We have to learn to love the process because if we don’t, it’s too easy for us to get discouraged when we fail from time to time—because chances are we most certainly will.
If we don’t love the journey and we don’t appreciate what we’ve already accomplished, then we are bound to focus on our failures and ignore our triumphs which is completely stupid!
Because the truth is without taking time to be proud of ourselves, what’s the point?!?
Starting anything new can be really challenging and discouraging, we get it!
That’s why it’s so important for us to be SMART about the habits we want to form and to choose small, consistent actions that over time, produce the results in life we want.
The greatest thing about habit formation is that it has the power to change our lives. The worst thing about habit formation is that it has the power to ruin our lives.
If we aren’t intentional and purposeful with our habit formation we run the risk of unwittingly developing bad habits that create perpetual suffering in our lives.
So please, I implore you: think about the habits you’ve developed in your lifetime and remember; take it slow, be intentional, have some fun along the way and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Thank you as always for reading this week’s post!
See you next Wednesday!