Building the Meditation Habit

While the techniques of meditation are easy to learn, the discipline that the practice of meditation requires can be difficult.  If you are new to meditation or a frequent practitioner who hasn’t been able to turn meditation into a regular practice, building the meditation habit is a crucial step to deepen and expand your insight and connection.  Even when it is difficult to find the time for meditation, remind yourself that you deserve this time to replenish, recharge, and reinvigorate your mind, body, and spirit—it’s this daily practice of self-care that will equip you to best tackle the challenges of life and work. 

To gain the full benefits of meditation, we must develop the discipline that allows us to practice daily, in the same way that we shower and brush our teeth daily without much thought.  A daily practice of mediation brings enhanced well-being, and enables to body and mind to reconnect through the breath.  On those days when you just don’t feel like meditating, remind yourself of the benefits it brings and trust the process: the stress and distress of the day disappears by the end of your meditation session, leaving you renewed.  Treasure the time you set aside for meditation for the precious gift that it is.

Here are several tips to help you build the meditation habit:

Begin with Shorter Periods

I recommend two periods of 20-minutes of meditation every day, but this is only something to build up to over time and isn’t a habit you can expect to get into straight away.  One of the biggest challenges of the discipline required by meditation is simply making the decision to meditate.  Begin by making the decision to meditate for shorter periods, perhaps 3 minutes every morning.  Over time, you can gradually build this up to more sustained sessions as you begin to recognise the benefits of meditation and the discipline of committing to it. 

Practice Daily

While it is useful to begin with shorter periods of meditation, it is still important to practice every day.  Don’t try it once and then leave it for several days or weeks before trying again.  Instead commit to daily practice, which will not only allow you to strengthen your meditation habit but will dramatically increase the positive benefits that you experience. Committing to your meditation practice daily is what is going to turn it into a habit and allow you to experience the greatest benefits.

Create a Meditation Corner

Meditation can be practiced anywhere, but, especially as a beginner, it is useful to have a specific area used for meditation.  This doesn’t have to be an elaborate meditation altar, and you certainly don’t need any fancy cushions, bells, or candles, and it doesn’t even have to be a space set aside only for meditation.  Find a simple corner in your house where you can go to each day to commit to your practice.

Keep It Simple

There are lots of fantastic tools and toys for meditators and yogis out there—I know, I’ve bought quite a lot of them.  While specialist zabutons (meditation cushion), meditation benches, signing bowls, malas, and statues can certainly help aid in your practice, they are absolutely not essential.  Don’t think that you need to wait until you have the right incense or the right prayer beads—start today, because you already have everything that you need. 

Create a Habit Trigger

While you don’t need lots of physical objects for your meditation practice, it can be helpful to have a simple candle in your meditation corner that you light at the beginning of each practice.  It doesn’t need to be expensive (a tealight or basic dinner candle will work absolutely fine).  The simple act of mindfully lighting the candle at the beginning of your daily practice helps to create a trigger for the routine and begin to prepare you for the mindful state.

Maintain a Beginner’s Mindset

In a society driven by competition and hustle, it can be easy to want to rush to the ultimate conclusion.  Sometimes we get disappointed that we aren’t transformed into a wise, ascetic monk after practicing meditation for several days, or disillusioned by what seems to be a lack of any noticeable benefits.  There is no end goal in meditation, so no need to rush or to push ourselves so hard that we feel defeated and abandon the practice.  Begin each meditation session with a beginner’s mindset, knowing that by showing up to your practice you have already made a huge achievement.

Download your free 21-day course in The Path of Mindfulness. In this life-changing 21-day mindfulness journey, Dr Allan Kilner-Johnson guides you through a series of self-guided mindfulness exercises and shows you how and when to bring mindfulness into your daily life. 

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