Starting and Reflecting on Positive Changes to keep the Why Alive, are crucial to the process; you must commence the practice in real time and space and, affirming the ongoing benefits (stress release is huge for many), helps the mind push through the many forms of resistance. But sometimes, even that won’t help you ‘stay the course’. So arises the next, #3 Key Guideline in Maintaining a Meditation Practice – Commit.
You may have fantastic objective and subjective evidence of the benefits of meditation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you stay with it. The mind steered by the personality is a tricky driver, easily forgetting the evidence and projecting the downsides (that pernicious problem of time), resulting in the dropout syndrome. This is what happened for me; I’d get busy or bored, complacent or agitated, so meditating became less attractive, and I deemed, unworthy of my time. I’m sure I could easily come up with 50 other things that were more worthy than meditation. My thoughts ruled the choice, not my higher wisdom (which knew that consistency is key – just like exercise for the body regularly is key to physical well being). One day would lead to another, and before you know it, 3, 6, 9 months has passed without meditation. Typically I’d then hit a big bump in the road, recognize that I was out of alignment with my desires of how I want to show up in the world… and I’d get back on the wagon. Stopping and starting feeds the ‘Failure Am I’ Inner Critic and disrupts the ongoing process of maintaining and improving health in all levels of our Being: Body, Heart, Mind and Spirit. When your mindset is commitment, ‘staying the course’ becomes much easier. Like any marriage contract, the commitment will uphold your initial intention through the good and bad times. But unlike a marriage with another, there is no risk of a poor choice; you are essentially committing to daily rendezvous with your higher self. In essence, you remove much of the resistance and associated unpleasantness.
So when you realize the downsides of the ‘on the wagon, off the wagon’ approach, go directly to commitment. When you decide to commit, you pledge to meditate at least once daily, for a minimum amount of time: 5, 10, 15, 20+… minutes? No questions, no excuses, no circumstances interfere with this commitment. You bind yourself to a course of action – or really, ‘inaction’. Deciding to meditate consistently is a powerful stance to take. This state of mind supersedes internal resistance; the mind and emotions love to be busy, the body’s senses love to be stimulated, the ego loves to be in control. The external world feeds all these layers of your being. So when you decide to consciously turn all those phenomenon inwards and ‘do no-thing’, you oppose habit patterns and natural inclinations that stir up objections. Know this, and push past the resistance with your commitment.
Then have some fun and pleasure with the new mindset.
Create a comfortable meditation space, with a good cushion or meditation bench to properly support the body, a table with inspirational objects (reminders of things you hold as precious) and pictures (inspirational people that remind you to be your greatest potential) on a small table. If you don’t have any room to carve out a dedicated space, choose a corner or closet or bathroom where you can close the door and seclude yourself. You can bring a few objects or pictures out and set them up where you choose to ‘sit’. If you travel, bring an item or two with you – it’ll remind you to grab a pillow from the hotel bed, and sit (in silence or do a guided meditation).
Attending to a few other details can support the commitment as well: set aside a consistent time of day and choose a minimum amount of time. You can work with, say 10 minutes to start with, and after some weeks extend that to 15. You may need to be more or less flexible as to time of day – experiment and see what works for you. Have a little chime alarm that you can control the level or if using a cruder alarm version, muffle the sound under a blanket. This technique allows you to relax the ‘time obsessed’ mind, and you are likely to settle into the meditation with more ease.
It may also help to put your ‘daily date with your inner witness’ in your calendar, whether that is on paper or electronic – and set a reminder so you don’t blow off the special date with yourself!
Remember, you are setting up a new habit pattern – committing to mental hygiene. It is no different than your established routine of daily teeth brushing; once committed, the habit takes over. It takes about 30 – 90 days to establish a new habit… so commit for that amount of time…. Set the stage, and just ‘Do It’.
Are you ready to commit? If so, claim it. … what do you commit to? When? For how long (30, 45, 60, 90 days); how many minutes? When and/or How many times / day? And Share it here!