Like anything in life that needs practice, meditation takes daily conscious effort to implement. Even though meditating on a regular basis has been important to me for quite some time now, I experience every so often days where I fail to follow through with my practice. In the past I sometimes even had weeks and months where I ceased practice for no apparent reason. But somehow I always came back to it. I feel more centered and at ease when meditating on a regular basis. I think more clearly and are more intune with myself and the world around me. It took me years to figure out my ideal meditation routine and it is still subjected to change every so often.
As of now this is my current meditation routine:
-Morning during commute in uber or ttc: 5 deep breaths followed by positive affirmations- I like to use the app insight timer for that. (5-10min)
-As soon as I get home the first time after work, no matter if it is at noon or in the evening: Initation with singing bowl, candle and sandlewood lightening, chanting and meditation seated in silence and finishing with a prayer of gratitude. (20 min)
– When going to bed: Deep breathing, lying down, body scan and energy work meditation (not timed- intuitively going as long as needed/desired)
Instead of telling you what your meditation routine supposed to be looking like, I want to tell you what I’ve learned from years of error and trial attempts to set one up for myself. I’m sharing with you 3 major obstacles that came up a number of times when trying to establish a routine:
Obstacle 1: Creating barriers/getting stuck on details
I’m a recovering perfectionist and I used to get stuck on details quite easily.
Especially when I’m inexperienced in a specific task I get hung up on details. For the longest time I had this fixed mindset that I need to follow a certain way of doing meditation, and that included also how my meditation routine supposed to be looking like.
Let me give you an example. I once read somewhere that meditation is supposed to be done during sunrise or sunset, because energetically it is the most powerful time of the day to do so. Naturally after reading that, my mind demanded that meditation practice has to happen during those times. The problem was that no matter what job I had, my schedule would never align in a way that would let me meditate during those times. My mind created a mental barrier and I ended up not meditating at all. Even now I’m at work way before sunrise and often work during sunset hours. I have an ever changing work schedule which makes it impossible to set a fixed time in the day and for a long time I didn’t know how to deal with that because my mind likes structure and rules.
Solution: I needed a meditation schedule that was flexible enough to adjust to my rapidly changing work schedule. I had to stop sweating the small stuff and see the bigger picture. I had to reaffirm that regular medation practice is more important than to nail down the perfect time or circumstances.
Obstacle 2: Comparing myself to others
My husband wakes up and meditates straight away for 20-30 min. I always wanted that for myself. But the reality is, I will always hit that snooze button if I have a chance to sleep longer especially when the wake up call is at 4:45am. I was beating myself up for a long time over this, because I so wanted to follow his example and meditate in the morning. I was I not capable of following through with that? I was putting a lot of energy into trying to follow someone else’s routine.
Solution: Instead of chasing someone else’s routine I needed to create my own that fits my needs and schedule.
Obstacle 3: Not open for change/hung up on how I did things yesterday
(FYI that obstacle is a constant work in progress for me) For quite a long time I would use an app called insight timer to meditate and help me fall asleep at night. For a while that seemed to work fine. But eventually I found it detrimental to my sleep. I find myself tangled in headphone wires and wake up in the middle of the night. This is big enough of an inconvenience, that I dropped my nightly meditation practice for a while instead of looking for a new way to keep up my practice. It took quite some time before I restarted meditating without the help of the app in the evening. For a year now I’ve been using crystals in my evening meditation before bed. At the moment I find it detrimental to my sleep and more of an inconvenience than it used to be a year ago. My mind came up with the solution to just drop my meditation practice and it took me a week to adapt to my new needs and meditate without the usual props.
Those are just a few examples of what my trial and error attempts looked like in the past.
Here is what I learned from all this and the advice I have for you:
First of all, you might be facing different struggles than me to implement and maintain your own practice. The first step is self awareness. You need to be very clear on what’s holding you back in order to implement and maintain a healthy habit such as meditation. Be aware not just of potential obstacles but also be very clear on your needs. Ask yourself what you would need in your current life situation to make it happen. Do you need someone to hold you accountable? Do you need help from your spouse to manage the kids while you take 15 min to meditate after work? Do you need to do the meditation in a lying position due to aches and pains?
Also before you get hung up on details, overcomplicate it or are tempted to compare yourself to others, remind yourself of the basic goal of meditation: Connecting to your breath, to yourself and to the present moment. Start small. 5 minutes is plenty of time to get you started. Be patient with yourself and stay open to change. Just because you’re used to doing something a certain way doesn’t mean you can’t change it up from time to time.
Truth is that in life you go through a lot of trial and errors. Key is to learn from it and continue trying until you find out what works.
And lastely building up a meditation routine is not unlike building up a gym routine. Sticking to it takes daily effort.
If you decide that you would like to establish a meditation routine, stay committed, but don’t beat yourself up if you fail from time to time. Important is that you learn from it and make the conscious decision to show up to your practice and therefore show up for yourself on a daily basis. Some days are easier and some days are harder. The harder it seems and the more excuses your mind points out, the more crucial is it to stick to it.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Also stay tuned for next week’s post. I’ll be discussing what you can do within your meditation practice, besides focusing on the breath.