10 Tips to Turn Meditation into a Daily Habit
January is full of hope for so many people who want to change. Many will resolve to eat better and exercise more. Others will plan to get a full 8 hours of sleep each night. And some folks will resolve to be more present by using meditation. Sadly, resolutions often don’t stick. By February, our best intentions are on the back-burner and our old habits have cropped back up like weeds. How can we make our meditation practice something that stays with us? Here are some tips:
1- Start small. If you’ve never meditated, expecting to do so for an hour a day is not realistic. Start with 5 minutes. If that’s too much, start with 4. Work your way up to 10, and see where it takes you.
2- Give yourself a check mark or sticker on piece of paper or in a notebook or on a wall calendar every time you meditate. When you see those marks, you’ll feel a nice sense of accomplishment. This can also help you stay on track.
3- Get your significant other/family members on board. Let them know the benefits of meditation and help them keep you accountable.
4- It can help to have a space to meditate, and a consistent part of the day set aside, but don’t get so caught up in those details that you don’t meditate. You can meditate wherever you can find a bit of quiet; you don’t need a cushion, chime, or altar (though they’re all nice things to have). And it’s great to do it at the same time every day, but life doesn’t always work that way, so be realistic about what works for you.
5- It can help to tie your meditation practice to something you’re already doing and meditate right after. For example, you could meditate right after you brush your teeth in the evenings.
6- Can you meditate for 40 days in a row? If so, you will have an excellent foundation for your daily practice. And the shifts you observe in that time will motivate you to continue.
7- If you need more motivation, accountability, or instruction, look into local meditation classes or groups – meditating in groups can be a powerful practice.
8- Integrate moments of mindfulness into your day. Choose an activity where you normally go on auto-pilot and be present – feel your body in space and take in everything around you through your senses.
9- If you forgot to meditate yesterday, do it today, but don’t put it off until tomorrow.
10- If you’ve never done it, start right now! Sit up tall, with a straight (but not too rigid) back. Close your eyes or maintain a soft gaze, and follow your breath. If it helps to place one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, do that. When your mind wanders (it will), just gently bring your mind back to the breath. Rinse and repeat.
Bonus tip: if you lose your motivation, just Google “benefits of meditation” and you will be reminded why you wanted to do this in the first place.