What’s the toughest part of maintaining a meditation routine? For many, it’s not the practice itself, but rather creating the habit of doing it.
It’s happened so many times in my meditation courses: the class finishes and everyone is super inspired to meditate every day that week. They leave the class with the clear understanding of why it’s important and how to do it.
A week later they return, many with a look of defeat, and confess that they didn’t meet their practice goal. It happens to all of us. We have the best of intentions and then find that implementing that new practice can feel at first like we’re swimming upstream.
It’s totally natural when you’re developing a new habit. The great news is that with a little extra effort at the beginning, you’ll build a momentum that will carry you forward.
Here are four tips to develop the habit of a consistent meditation practice:
- Start with an achievable goal.
Maybe you’ve thought this before… tomorrow I’ll start. After this crazy week at work, I’ll begin. When the kids are back in school, I’ll find the time. The problem with this thought process is that the goal always exists in the future. The solution? Start with a goal that is so easily achievable it seems crazy NOT to do it.
For example, commit to meditate for just three minutes every day. The idea is to show yourself you can do it, while building confidence in your ability to achieve the goal. This will establish a solid foundation that makes it easier to expand the time of your practice.
- Plan! Plan! Plan!
Most of us already have our days filled with current habits. To establish a consistent meditation practice, you’ll need to plan and block off time to fit in this new habit. In my courses, I always invite students to answer these questions:
- When and where will I practice? For example: on the chair in my bedroom as soon as I wake up each morning; in my car on my lunch break; on my couch before going to bed.
- What do I need to do differently to make that possible? For example: set my morning alarm for 10 minutes earlier; ask my co-workers not to disturb me; ask my husband to watch the kids while I meditate.
- Train your brain to help.
Your brain runs on habit. When you repeat something again and again in a specific way, your brain starts signaling you to do that thing (think: waking up and drinking coffee or going to bed and brushing your teeth). When you make the effort to continuously meditate at the same time of day and in the same place, your brain will feed you the reminders and impulses to do that. In the study of habits, these are called triggers, and they refer to something that initiates a behavior or routine.
For example, when you consistently meditate right after getting out of the shower, your shower becomes a reminder, or trigger, to meditate. After a while, it becomes an effortless habit to meditate after you shower.
- Celebrate your victories!
I say this all the time to my students: Celebrate. Your. Victories.
After you finish your meditation practice, reward yourself with positive self-recognition: “I did it!” “I stuck with my goal!” “I feel more peaceful and calm.” “I have felt less reactive this week.” Recognizing the positive impacts of the practice, and speaking this to yourself or others, goes a long way in helping to reinforce your new habit.
Just know that you have everything within you to develop any new habit you wish. Discipline and motivation is not something that people magically have; it is something that is cultivated.
If you want to develop the habit of a regular meditation practice, I challenge you to start today with these four tips. I’ll be cheering you on!
Consistency is one of the most important parts of any practice. Awakened Life & Sai Maa offer a 40 day program that can help you get into the habit of setting aside time every day to focus on your spiritual and meditation practices. We highly recommend this as a tool to assist you on your path.
During the 40 days, you’ll receive:
- A daily audio broadcast from Sai Maa on teachings about topics like the expression of Self, the attributes of Spirit, and caring for your Soul
- Suggested meditation practices and questions for contemplation to help you put these teachings into action
- Energetic support behind the scenes from Sai Maa, who as a living enlightened master, activates the program with the pure Divine energy of creation