“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” Buddha
We have all at some point in time, attended workshops and courses with great enthusiasm, and have even had the good intention to practice the Teachings, but between wanting to do something and actually getting down to doing it, there’s a gap.
Regular meditation is something most practitioners on the spiritual path aim for.
So, I began reflecting on what can truly work, and I tried to look at the difference between people who meditate daily and those who don’t. Barring some exceptions, most people who claimed to be able to meditate regularly seemed to have somehow made it a part of their regular routine – just like other things they do daily. Sleep, eat, work, go to the washroom, brush, bathe etc. Meditation to them is a part of who they are now and they didn’t need to think much about it. On the other hand people who did not meditate regularly (and I was amongst those once upon a time) were people who were still figuring out how to go about it, doubting that they would be able to get there, starting but stopping often, and getting frustrated at their failure to achieve their goal.
Today, I do manage to practice fairly regularly, and that has been a slow and steady process of trying and failing and trying again. When I first attended my workshops, I too went through phases of erratic practices. I too would end up feeling frustrated. I searched the net for blogs and articles to motivate me, attended further workshops and courses in the hope that I will find the motivation to become regular with my practices. Different sites gave similar advice and seemingly all of it made sense, yet, none of it seemed to work for me. In this write-up, I will share what finally led me to my regular practice. It may or may not work for everyone, but I am writing in the hope that it may be helpful for many others.
Identify Why You Avoid Meditating
Own your excuse and then take steps to get rid of it. The key to any successful change in behaviour, or to starting a new routine is awareness. Reflect and be honest with yourself. Next, proceed to take steps to resolve the issue.
For example, if the main obstacle for you is “time” (rather the lack of it), because you wake up late – reflect and see why that happens. Perhaps, you are going to bed pretty late? Again, go deeper to see why that happens, perhaps it is so, because you are watching TV or spending time on social media, and so on and so forth until you arrive at the root cause. Then proceed to imagine that you have removed the cause, and visualise yourself doing what is the right behaviour (in this case: sleeping on time). This technique is similar to the “Inner reflection and Firm resolution” given by Master Choa and works on the premise that without awareness, transformation is not possible. Secondly, repeated right thoughts result in repeated right behaviour. It also agrees with the principles of neuroscience that speak of retraining the brain through visualisation and repeated thoughts.
Make It Yours
Meditate because YOU want to, make it your goal. If you are trying to meditate because someone else told you to, it probably won’t work. You need to make it your personal goal, because you specifically want to do it. Be accountable- announce it to others, motivate someone else to meditate as well. This will help in overcoming excuses to not practice.
Make A Start
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” Lao Tzu Often times we wait for the perfect moment to start – well, there is never ever a better moment than NOW! So, start with a small step. Don’t wait … Just do it!
“The reason why students do not progress even after receiving priceless teachings and spiritual techniques from the teacher is because they do not have a schedule; the sattvic energy is missing. Sattvic people establish the rhythm, they preserve the movement, and they preserve the organization.” ― Master Choa Kok Sui, Hinduism Revealed
Take out your calendar and schedule an appointment with yourself, just like you would schedule an appointment with someone else…someone who’s important, like a doctor or a business colleague. Remember, no one can be as important as you for yourself. Mark an appointment and then stick to it. Use technology to help. Set a reminder on the phone, set an alarm, put in your to-do list and tick it off once done!
Enjoy It, Make It Fun
If it’s boring, you will not be able to sustain it. So get creative. Find or create a “go-to” space for your meditation practice. If you can’t then, start a pleasant activity that you can relate to it, like for example lighting a candle, or an incense stick that sets the mood. Maybe, put on a chant while you exercise. Use a comfortable sitting position. Do different meditations, sometimes, try doing it without a cd…keep it fresh.
Unplug. Change the “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) to “JOMO” (Joy Of Missing Out). Break the unhelpful pattern and invert the process! We absolutely owe it ourselves to disconnect from all media and everybody else for a short while each day and just be with ourselves.
Focus On The Benefits For Yourself
Nothing like an incentive for us to do anything. The human brain thrives on what it feels is gainful for it. So, go ahead and enumerate the benefits for yourself. Make them inspiring to read through. That will add further momentum to your intention to practice.
“The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.” – Unknown No one is better or worse, we are all on a path and an individual journey, at our pace. Find inspiration from others but never compare or put yourself down. This can be extremely detrimental and lead to low-self esteem, which in itself becomes a huge obstacle to do anything useful. Watch out and consciously stop comparing yourself to others. Remember, you are awesome!!
Find A Buddy Or A Group
This is one of the most useful tips according to me- nothing like a buddy system or a group to keep you motivated, especially on days when you will tend to slow down. The energies of a group will pull you through. It also helps with keeping you accountable when we work in a group. So find yourself a group or else, make one.
“Your brain is a reward detector. As you go about your life, your sensory nervous system is continuously monitoring which actions satisfy your desires and deliver pleasure. Feelings of pleasure and disappointment are part of the feedback mechanism that helps your brain distinguish useful actions from useless ones. Rewards close the feedback loop and complete the habit cycle”- James Clear
Write your goals in a meditation journal and celebrate each goal you achieve on your meditation calendar. For example, sleep an extra hour every six days you meditate, go and get a spa treatment once you achieve a monthly target, or gift yourself something special from your shopping list. Anything that helps keep you motivated.
These are some tips I followed to help me get regular with my meditation practice, and eventually it became it’s own reward. This is not an exhaustive list- you can use it as is or make one that works for you adding or removing from this. In any case, know that you can do it and remember, it’s never too late to begin…so, don’t wait- MEDITATE!