Building a Daily Meditation Habit
100 Days of Mindfulness
About a year ago I committed to writing on my personal blog, Dear World, every day for 100 days in a row. Today, I’m committing to something similar and different: I’m going to start meditating every day, for at least the next 100.
Let me explain why, and how I plan to do it.
I’ve had an inconsistent meditation practice for about a decade now. At its best, I meditate every day for a streak of a week or two. At its worst, I meditate once a month.
But here’s the thing: I know that meditation makes me happier, calmer, work better, think clearer — it makes me better. Every time. I can even verify this for myself with some [obviously slanted] data: looking back at my journal, and comparing that against the records from the meditation app I use (Calm), I can see that on days I meditate I almost always finish every task I set out to do in the morning. I’m also more gracious, thoughtful, and patient in my responses.
On the days I don’t meditate, well, I get by, but I’m a bit messier. And sometimes those days turn into weeks into months. That’s what’s happened these past few weeks.
And the science backs this up, right? We all know this, if we exist even a little on the internet. Just google “the scientific benefits of meditation” and bask in the bazillion hits of glory.
So, why don’t I do it every day?
Honestly, it’s hard to say. Up until today, I hadn’t really given it a lot of critical thought.
The best explanation that I’ve come up with is that it’s a habit that’s easy to avoid, because of how easy it is to keep. You can meditate anywhere. Any time. For as long (hours) or as short (one deep breath) as you want. I often meditate at home, but I’ll also do so in coffee shops, park benches, on trains and planes, etc., you get it — I’m turning into a Dr. Seuss book here (and Sam I am).
And because it’s so easy to meditate, it’s also easy not to. Because I can do it later. I can do it after breakfast, but right now I want to read this book. Or I’ll meditate when I get home, because this project isn’t going to launch itself. Then when I get home, I think After dinner. Right now I’m on a roll cleaning. And so on.
I’ve also never fully committed to a daily practice. It’s something I’ve entertained, and thought would be nice, and admired in other people… but not something I ever officially said I’m going to do myself.
I think the big reason why was that I didn’t want meditation to become a dreaded daily task, like reading emails, writing emails, or cleaning the food processor after making hummus.
And how am I going to do it now?
For one, writing this post itself [I am banking on] is going to help me stick to the habit. I’ve read that making public pledges help us stick to our commitments, and I know from the experience of starting this blog that it works to motivate me.
So that’s one way: YOU all know I said I’m going to do this now, and YOU are going to hold me accountable? Right? YOU! Please do. Shoot me a Facebook message or Tweet whenever you’d like and encourage me. Especially if you’re trying to meditate more, because then I can encourage you back. Yay accountabillibuddies!
Beyond that, I have a few concrete things I’m going to start doing.
From all that reading, I have decided upon the following:
- I’m going to start small by doing one minute meditations as part of this habit, and increase every week. Maybe I’ll sit longer as well, if I’m wanting to (I generally meditate for 15–30 minutes nowadays), but that will be in addition to the Unos.
- I’m going to create the trigger of meditating as soon as I open my email, or unlock my phone in the morning. Email and/or news are often my first-thing-in-the-morning go-to (because I’m a masochist), and I’ve been trying to break that [bad] habit. So I’m going to replace it with meditation. Before I read my first email, and definitely before I respond to any emails.
- I’m also going to create a few redundancies to give me a second chance in case my trigger doesn’t work. I’m going to have my Calm app notify me once a day later in the morning, and I’m going to create a daily calendar event that checks in to see if I have meditated yet in the afternoon. And if I’ve already meditated, I’ll use those reminders to sit for longer, if I feel like it.
- And I’m going to share my progress here. One of the best motivators for me, carte blanche, is if I know a behavior I’m doing might help someone else. So if I write here about my struggles, little wins, lessons learned, and etc. — and they help other people trying to build a daily practice, then WIN WIN. This might be the most powerful of all my ideas. We’ll see.
This is more important to me than most of the other healthy habits I’ve either successfully cultivated (like standing daily for work) or attempted and failed (who needs pushups?). Fingers crossed that helps me make it happen.
I have a hard time imagining the impact of 100 days of straight meditation on my life, knowing what sitting for just a couple minutes can do for my day. I’m excited by the idea, and I’m going to hold it in my mind as I settle into this challenge.
Originally published at samkillermann.com.