I wrote in my last post about my journey into meditation and mindfulness. My practice began with taught classes at a local Buddhist Centre and in many places, those classes are still available. Others are now accessing meditation tutorials through apps such as Headspace.
Like many things starting a meditative practice is one thing but continuing it is something else. Below are my 5 ways to make your meditation practice stick:
- Manage your expectations– Meditation is not an elixir or panacea. It is true that many people come to it because they want to improve their quality of life but ‘life’ unfolds pretty much the same way it always did even after you start meditating. You will still have days where life is hard, stressful, emotional, and tiring. If you want a transformative high, where you look like all the smiley pics of the Dalai Lama, you are also likely to be disappointed! Even he has had his bad days. If you come to practice with a simple expectation that meditation will be ‘of benefit’ and with an open mind as to how, you are more likely to keep at it.
- Do it– meditation is called a practice because we are committing to continually practising meditation. Whether it be for 3 minutes a day or 30, whether we choose to sit for all our practices or whether we approach some of our daily activities such as eating more mindfully we will make progress if we commit to regular practice. We can be creative in the ways in which we build our practices up to support sticking with it. Something as simple as the mindful drinking of a cup of tea in the morning all adds to our immersion and appreciation of the value of meditation in our lives.
- Avoid Judgement and Labels– Meditation cannot be bad or poor or all those other words we are used to using when we talk about ourselves and our performance of activities. The merit of the experience continuing is beyond what we may see as a ‘bad session’. If we see meditation as one of the few experiences in life where we make progress every time we sit then we are more likely to continue even when we take a view that a session has not gone well
- Celebrate it– I approach this one carefully given 1 and 3 but whatever you discover or the awareness you gain as you meditate should be acknowledged and celebrated. These moments however fleeting should be accepted for what they are and seen as the true delight of meditation
- Benefit will come for you and others– We must be cautious about goals and objectives with meditation but this is what I would call a ‘universal promise’- there is a reason the practice of meditation has endured for over 2000 years and that is, it will have a positive impact on your life and others. It will not always be comfortable or predictable but after time as the experience unfolds you will acknowledge the positive impact it has had on your life and through your practice the life of others.