I have known for years that mediation is good for me. Even so, it has been a struggle to make meditation a daily part of my life.
After researching, experimenting, and finding some help, there are a few practices that are finally starting to work for me.
“When people frown and tell me that they don’t believe in meditation, my response is that they must not believe in the brain, because four decades of brain research has proven that the brain is transformed by meditation ”
(Super Brain by Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D. and Deepak Chopra)
The Many Benefits of Meditation
In a post called, The Simply Amazing Happy Living Pill, I shared my research on the benefits of meditation. When I discovered the wide-ranging impact it could have on my life, meditation became too important to ignore.
Hundreds of studies confirm meditation is good for body and brain. It benefits every single person, at every stage of life, no matter who or where you are. And it works whether you believe in it or not.
Meditation is a simple practice that improves health and happiness. So why don’t we all do it?
My Meditation Roadblocks
I have been trying to overcome four distinct obstacles in establishing a daily meditation practice:
- Fear and embarrassment of what others might think when I’m sitting in a funny position and acting like some “eastern guru”
- Frustration with my wandering mind
- Poor time management or not making it a real priority each day
- Meditation is not a daily habit like eating, sleeping, and brushing my teeth
6 Ways to Make Meditation a Daily Practice
1. Do It First
I am most consistent when I meditate first thing in the morning. To reinforce this behavior, I prepare my coffee machine the night before and do my 15-minutes of meditation while it’s brewing each morning.
2. Get Help
I was introduced to an app called Headspace that teaches the basics of meditation during a free 10-day trial.
The founder, Andy Puddicombe, is a meditation and mindfulness expert. I like the way he teaches and guides me through my sessions. He taught me the importance of self-awareness as a foundation to meditation. Each session he asks me to scan my body (sensation) and mind (emotion) to “see” how I feel at the moment, and then to consider why I decided to sit and meditate (intention).
His “sensation, emotion, and intention” technique helps bring self-awareness to any task I am involved in.
When I measure something, I focus my attention on it. Headspace supports this best practice by automatically tracking my progress – so far I have meditated 144 out of 162 days since beginning the program.
It also keeps track of “run streaks” which are the number of days I have meditated in a row. My current streak is only at 4 days. My best streak is 30-days. I am working to earn my 90-day ribbon next!
Turning a new behavior into a habit is easier when you share the experience with others. The Headspace app makes it easy to add a buddy to your meditation group and shows you how many people are meditating throughout the Headspace community. As I write these words, there are 8,226 current users meditating!
The best way to overcome my first two obstacles is to relax.
I overcome embarrassment by focusing on how important meditation is to me. I just relax into any feelings of embarrassment and sit anyways. The more I do it, the better it feels.
I overcome the frustration about my wandering mind by acknowledging that sitting each day is way more important than doing it the “right” way. When my mind wanders I just relax into the feeling and bring my attention back to the moment – without judging the session or myself. The more I do it, the better it feels.
I will overcome my last two obstacles by simply meditating.
I learned it takes 21 days to form a habit. I don’t know if that is fact or myth, but the more I do something, the easier it gets. And at some point, it becomes automatic. The more I meditate, the easier and more automatic it becomes.
But I want more than that… I want to develop mastery in my meditation practice, which will take more time!
In his fantastic book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explains that people don’t become “masters” at complex things until they have accrued 10,000-hours of practice. With only 40 hours on the mat since starting the Headspace program, I’ll be working on mastery for the rest of my life.
What Others Say
I asked people in the Happy Living community for their thoughts about Headspace…. here’s what two of our readers had to say:
Sarah: “the app has made it easy to embrace what I’d previously thought was impossible & to find calm”
Lee: “the app is fantastic, both visually and for ease use! Anyone can follow the app!”
Why Not Try for Yourself?
Watch this two-minute video and get started with your free 10-day trial today, and then let me know what you think!
If you want to learn more about meditation, meet new friends, and explore the foundations of health, join us for our Happy Living Weekend Retreat in Sedona, Arizona on August 21-22. Early bird pricing is available through the end of June, so reserve your spot today!
To see this article as it appears on the Happy Living website, please click here.