22 days ago, I sat down on a cushion in front of my alter space at home, closed my eyes for 10 minutes, and meditated. I have done this every single day since then. Meditation has become part of my morning practice that is now as routine as brushing my teeth. I feel pretty kick-ass about what I’ve accomplished in the last 22 days but what was bugging me was, how did I actually do it. I can honestly say that at the start, I did not set a goal of meditating for the next 22 days; actually I hardly gave it much thought. So after weeks of meditation, when it finally dawned on me that I had created a regular practice, I wanted to explore what helped make it such a success. Here’s what I came up with.
1. Commit To The Moment
As I mentioned, when I started out, I did not set a future goal of meditating daily but rather I made a choice each day to sit down at the cushion. Once I gave my mind the instruction, the rest of my body went into action. Sometimes making a future goal to do something everyday for a specified amount of time can put you in your head too much. If you’re a thinker like me, you’re more likely to begin strategizing and planning on how you’re going to succeed at the goal before you've even begun. Doing this can be a bit overwhelming and stressful because you’re so worried about the ‘how’ that you lose track of the ‘what’. If you use the present moment to make a choice and take action without thinking about the next day and the day after that, you realize that the present moment is all you really need to get it done.
2. Know Your ‘Why’
Why would I spend 5, 7, or even 10 minutes meditating every day? I could use that time for something else couldn’t I? I have found myself spending the same amount of time on Facebook or watching television but what I get from those experiences aren't as fulfilling to me as time spent clearing my mind and replenishing myself. Life is about experiences and how we spend them. That’s why spending quality time with good friends and family or going out for quiet walks in nature leave us feeling fueled and revitalized. The experience nourishes our soul on a deeper level. Ultimately dedicating yourself to something that has purpose and significance to you will motivate and keep you on track.
3. Enjoy the Process
Coming to my meditation cushion every day was a challenge but was also very fun. I learned that meditating in peace isn’t always the experience you’ll have. I can illustrate that with a quick story. One morning as I sat down to meditate, a construction worker decided to clang his equipment right outside my window. Naturally, it was distracting and made me want to end my practice short. I got up in a huff frustrated at being inconvenienced by all the noise. Then I thought to myself, wait a second, isn’t this why I am meditating? To be at peace even amidst the chaos? I smiled to myself, let out a laugh and sat back down to continue my meditation. The construction worker soon finished what he was doing and all was quiet again. If I had allowed myself to get angry and end my practice short, that probably would’ve set the tone for the rest of my day and I would miss out on the lesson of reminding myself not to take things so seriously.
I tell that story to remind us to learn to use every inconvenience or set back as an opportunity to laugh at ourselves, stay playful at heart, and find joy in the process.
So remember, Commit to the Moment, Know Your ‘Why’, and Enjoy The Process. These are my keys to sustaining a great meditation practice.