It is easy to say you'll become a daily meditator, but it is very challenging to actually do it. I'll be the first to admit that I was a social meditator. I'm defining social meditator as someone who will take group meditation classes, maybe even practice for about 2 weeks, then once you've missed one day, the practice is gone. The good news is that in each day, in each moment, we can choose to begin again.
Here are 6 steps to help you move from social meditator to someone with a solid daily practice. This would work easily for any other habit you're looking to develop.
- Start Small - You would not run a marathon without proper training, and you should not set meditation expectations that are too large. You may try 2-5 minutes dailyto start. You may choose once a day, you may choose twice a day. Maybe mornings are crazy, but you can fit 5 minutes in at lunch or before you go to bed. Once you are well established in your small start, you can build your practice from there.
- Cue - Strong habits (good and bad) have cues that trigger behavior. My cue has been feeding the pets. They don't let me forget. Once the pets have been fed (they have to be monitored or they share food), it is time to meditate.
- Routine - Structure is your friend when it comes to habit formation. If you like a guided meditation, have your favorites readily available. This is not the time to begin searching YouTube for a new mediation. If you like to do a little reading first, keep your book in the space where you meditate. If you like to do some light stretching first or head directly to silent meditation, do that. Establish a routine that works, and stick with it.
- Reward - The rewards of meditation itself are many, any no doubt that you've read about or experienced them for yourself. It may be enough of a reward just to take a moment to enjoy the feeling after a meditation session. If you need a more tangible reward, don't judge yourself. You can meet yourself with kindness, and find a reward that works for you (plus you'll still have all of the great mediatation benefits). Maybe you wait to have that first sip of coffee or tea until after you meditate.
- Share - Humans are social, and it is only natural that we benefit from sharing our experiences with others. You may reach out to a meditation group or a friend who is either an established or beginning meditator. Social media is a great resource when it comes to connecting with other people with similar goals. My friends have started a small meditation group on facebook. Click here for the link.
- Non Judgement - Be kind to yourself. If you miss a day, just begin again. If you're running short on time, maybe you can squeeze in a fraction of your normal meditation time. If it takes you a year or two to reach your goal (that may be 30 days straight or it may be 20 minute session), just be OK with working from where you are.
With consistent drive, compassion, and attention, you can move from social meditator (or non meditator) to someone who is enjoying the benefits of a strong daily practice.
Namaste - Beth