How to Stick To a Meditation Practice

Meditation is one of those things that always has a positive effect on my day. There was never a time that I said “Damn, I really wish that I hadn’t meditated earlier… sure did make my day crappy.”

I made the connection early on that meditating in the mornings = better Lyman during the day.

By better, I mean calmer, able to handle stress more skillfully, friendlier, better able to concentrate, and generally happier.

So why is it that I couldn’t stick to doing it more than a few days at a time?

The correct answer to that question, unless you are a behavioral scientist involved in a some sort of study, is another question…

Who cares?!

Honestly, who cares? I’d constantly ask myself “Why won’t/can’t I do this???” and come up with all kinds of answers… none of which helped me to actually make meditation a regular practice. I may have had the right reasons, but they did nothing to help me make meditation a regular part of my life. It’s fine to explore and wonder and discover the answers to things, but that’s not the goal here.

In order to reach our goal (stick to a meditation practice) I think a better question to ask is:

“How can I make meditation a regular practice?”

Well, duh.

Yeah, duh. But that’s not the question we’ve been asking ourselves. We’ve been asking “Why” (once again, nothing wrong with that, but it’s not helpful right now) instead of “How.”

About a year or so ago, I read a book – Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results – that literally changed my life for the better. Meditation is the area that I’ve been able to apply it to more than any other.

In the book, Stephen Guise talks about performing “stupid small” strategic actions every day.

These actions are too small to fail, and too small to skip for special occasions. They serve dual purposes – to spark you to do more, and to become mini-habits.

Mini Habits, page 19

I decided to try that with meditation. What would be my “stupid small” strategic action?

How about 1 minute a day.

Well, that’s just ridiculous! How am I going to benefit from doing *anything* for just one minute a day?

I benefited because it made meditating a habit. Nowadays, I meditate anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes a day. To show you that it’s possible, here’s a screenshot from the tracker I use (Insight Timer):

If you look at the numbers, I’ve been using Insight Timer since August of 2012, but only meditated every 3-4 days on average. This usually came in spurts – a few days on, a week or so off, a day on, a month off…

But as of today I’m at 152 days… and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. I now feel a pull to meditate, whereas in the past I had to push myself to do it.

This will, of course, be much easier if you already have some experience meditating under your belt. And maybe the one minute rule isn’t right for someone who is just starting out… I have no idea since I was meditating for years before I “got it right.” Of course, I have no idea if this will work for you even if you’ve been trying like I did for years – all I’ve got is my own experience to share.

If you’d like to stop banging your head against the wall, maybe give this a try. Just commit to meditating for one minute today. Of course you can do more if you want, but all you have to do is that one minute to reach today’s goal. Tomorrow you’ll commit to another minute, but that’s not important right now.

I’d love to know if this works for you.

 

2 Comments

  1. I was running around after work, feeling pressured and crazed and then thought of you. I decided I had one minute to sit down and clear my head. That one minute turned into 5. Thank you for your blog post Lyman.

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