When some people decide to start meditating, they dive right in and go full steam ahead. Maybe it’s their first day, but they’re already doing two 45-minute sessions. Some of these people will become lifelong meditators, but others will eventually drop it as quickly as they picked it up. I think that’s because meditation isn’t exactly like taking up guitar, skateboarding or rock climbing. Sure, you can like it a lot, and want to do it all the time for just that reason, but there’s no need whatsoever to approach it aggressively.
Habit is a word that carries a strong negative connotation, but it really is better to think of meditation as a habit — a good habit. Think about any of the habits you’ve acquired in your lifetime… I’m willing to bet most of them were picked up gradually, not overnight. If you want to make a habit of meditating, then you have to let it develop gradually.
Make a Schedule
The first thing you should do is set aside small, realistic slots of time throughout the week for when you can meditate. The amount of time can range from 5 to 20 minutes, but doesn’t need to be more than that; especially at first.
Squeeze it In
The same way a smoker or a coffee drinker might squeeze in a quick smoke break or coffee break, start trying to squeeze in a quick meditation break, even if it’s just a minute or less. Anytime you happen to think about meditating, just pause for a moment and take notice of your surroundings. Doing this throughout the week will also help the habit start to set in.
If you associate meditation with another normal routine in your life, there’s a better chance it will turn into a habit. For example, if you started meditating for five minutes after waking up each morning, after a while you would start to associate the two and always feel a need to meditate every morning.
Let Go of Expectations
Try to let go of any expectations you have about meditation. If you’re expecting a certain result in a certain amount of time, there’s a good chance you’re just setting yourself for disappointment and discouragement. In the beginning, the goal should just be to pick up the habit of meditation, not to get some very specific result out of it in a fixed time.
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