If I had to categorically document the different times that I have started, stopped, and restarted a meditation routine, I could fill the first half of the Indianapolis phone book.
I am a habitual habit-breaker, and meditation is my Everest.
I know the benefits of mindfulness. I’ve experienced them. I’ve reveled in their positive effects and thought to myself “never again will I let my attention waiver!”
And each time, something inevitably distracts me for long enough that five days later I’m binge-watching Gilmore Girls on the couch and forgetting all about it.
And yet, in these times of woebegone “oh-wells” and “I’ll-start-again-tomorrows”, I try to remind myself of why this practice is important to me. I also try to remember that, to err is to human, and frustration over my lack of consistency mostly lends me to be less motivated to resume a routine.
Though I’m still trying to find a schedule that works perfectly between work, graduate school, and the little time in between, I’ve surmised five tricks for people who, like me, are searching for more consistency in their practice.
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff
I have a tendency to exist in extremes. If I miss one day, I am a complete and utter failure. Rather than being so concerned with the daily repetition, start with small goals — such as “I will try to meditate four times this week.”
Make your goals manageable and achievable; hold yourself accountable, but don’t get frustrated if you slip up.
2. Pick a scent to use with your meditation practice
Your sense of smell is one of the strongest senses linked to memory. If you consistently use a specific candle or essential oil during meditation, the scent alone can be enough to train your brain to prepare for mindfulness.
3. Tie your practice to another habit
I always read before I go to bed, and I always do sun salutations when I wake up.
Tying a brief meditation to the beginning or end of either of those activities helps me remember to stay consistent, especially since those are more established habits that I’m less likely to break.
4. Keep a meditation journal
It might be hard to capture mindfulness onto the page, but keeping a tab on when you meditate, how you feel before and/or after each meditation, helps motivate you and also show your progress.
There are even many meditation apps you can use which have you document your feelings before and after the meditation.
5. Use the tools available to you
We live in a digital age, and many people have access to laptops, tablets, or smart phones. There are so many apps available, and many at no cost, that it has become easier to find a program that works for you.
These guided meditation apps can help new people become more practiced, and send you reminders and notifications which keep even the most seasoned on task.
No matter the methods used or the consistency of your practice, meditation is an extremely beneficial practice to both the mind and body.
The importance of being kind to yourself while you begin integrating a lifestyle change or practice into your daily routine is crucial to its success. Find whatever feels good and right to you!