New habits are formed when we make it easy to do the right thing, and make it rewarding so we keep coming back. We must try to weave meditation naturally into our lifestyle with minimal disruption and maximum payoff.
We bought a really top of the line Digital SLR camera a few years ago. This was the full set, complete with extra lenses, wireless memory card and a tripod. It takes amazing photos. The summer solstice this year was accompanied by a full moon, and it was a great time to take a panoramic photo of the beautiful northern California valleys in the evening sun and the sky-show with multi-colored clouds. But guess what?! We didn’t take photos from the DSLR. We had our smartphones with us, and that’s what we used to take wide panoramic photos. The DSLR was sitting at home somewhere— turns out it’s not useful to have a state-of-the-art camera if you’re not going to take it along with you. The best camera is the one you have with you when you need it.
Many people who learn meditation have this challenge. They have learnt something in its purest form in an ashram setting, but have trouble finding the “right place and time” for that practice when they return home and back to work. Then, days pass, and the ashram-halo begins to recede and the everyday hassles return. Pretty soon, there’s no practice.
The best meditation practice is the one you’re able to do.
With our Ekras Living Meditations (on iTunes or Stitcher or whether you find your podcasts), we have tried to create meditations that people like us— householders and professionals— can use in our everyday life. Finding time is easy if you can fit a 10-20 minute meditation into you schedule one or more times into you day. Maybe you have time when you’re sitting on the commute bus? Maybe you have time as soon as you return home from work and need a buffer between your work and home duties. Or you have a mid-morning walk to the park outside office that’s already on your daily schedule. Any of these can be cues to engage in meditation. Just have to be committed to finding that window of time that you have by yourself.
Once you have the cue identified, you need to have all the tools available by your side. Fortunately, there’s not much you need for meditation. Just your attention and a space where you can be by yourself. No equipment necessary and no purchase needed.
To make the habit stick, just take a couple minutes after your meditation, or at the end of the day to fill yourself with gratitude. This small gesture of heartfelt thanks allows you to feel good, and to recognize that you’re feeling good. This is the “reward” that allows the habit to be reinforced and induces you to keep coming back.
Finally, keep a small diary and keep track of the days and times you meditate. A paper diary would be fine, as would be a Google Keep note or a calendar task. What gets measured gets managed. Just track the days you have meditated, and try to keep the chain going for one more day. In three weeks, you’ll have a habit that’s entirely yours. Good luck.