One of the biggest challenges with meditation is staying consistent with the practice. We have good intentions; we want to do it; we know it would helpful if we stayed with it, but alas, it just doesn't happen. Let's put any judgement aside because we all know meditation can be so easily put off. I'll often hear, "I can't find the time, even though I know there's no reason I can't make 5 minutes in my day." I get it. It's not so easy when our to do list is calling our name or someone else is literally calling our name. We can put our needs aside for what appears more pressing or maybe it simply calls out louder. So what helps?
There are the obvious tips:
- Commit to the same time every day and put it in your calendar (set a gentle sounding alarm 5 minutes prior to remind you). Even if it's only a 5 minute practice, schedule it.
- Notice the difference in the days you practice and the days you skip and which feels better? I find when I skip a day, I feel like I am missing something all day -- connection to myself.
- Before you go to sleep, think about the time you have reserved for meditation the following day and remember the "why of it." Why do you want to meditate? Let the "why" motivate you. We often need to remind ourselves. Some of my why's are: because I want to strengthen being present; I want to practice reacting less habitually and find that space between what arises and what I do; I want to find more space between my thoughts and come back to my body; I want to savor this moment right here; I want to slow myself down; I want to remind myself that in this very moment I am enough and this moment is enough; I am kinder to myself when I pause and let whatever is alive in me just be there. I could go on. There are all kinds of reasons to practice! What is yours? Recall it and let it be the inspiration that gets you to sit down on your cushion or chair in the morning.
- Create a space in your home, even if it is a corner of a room. Let it be your sacred space. A place where the ritual of coming to sit invites you in. Whatever cushion, chair, props, bells you need. Put a single flower there so that it signifies this is a place where awareness, presence, compassion, peace is possible.
Sit with a meditation group every week. Sorry if that was anti-climatic. But, really, it is no small thing and yet the commitment is no big thing either. Just show up online or in person, however it might be offered. When we commit to showing up to a group, we not only strengthen our practice because we have dedicated a time and place to meditate, but we also support and are supported by others who value living a mindful life. The practice matters not only to us, but to the community. That support only exists if you show up. It feeds itself. It is interdependent. We may all be in different places in our practice, but that doesn't matter. We show up to ourselves and each other. Whether we say a single word or not, our presence is felt in person or online.
Besides, the image of sitting in a cave on a mountain alone until we get enlightened...that is one way to go, but how well that prepares us to being among others and engaged in the world as it is, I am not so sure. There is no reason to do it alone. Last weekend when we were away in the country, we watched as a flock of small birds chased a hawk from tree to tree to get it to leave. We had never seen anything like it. There is strength in numbers. The same is true in mindfulness and meditation.
If you are having difficulty staying consistent with your meditation practice, know you are not alone, leave the judgement aside, and get together with others who value it, too. You will be nourished.