The benefits of meditation are well-documented but don’t necessarily translate into people starting. This is how I made it a daily habit.
Just because it’s common sense, doesn’t mean it’s common practice – Will Rogers
What was my trigger?
Two years ago I attended Wired for Wonder, an event combining arts, technology, business, and science to bring a sense of awe at our world. One workshop involved a guided meditation from Dandapani. At the time, I was working on large technology programs and looking for any way to stay stress-free.
What stayed with me – apart from the obvious benefits of meditation – was Dandapani’s pragmatic advice for embedding any habit. Start small. Making any commitment too big will increase the likelihood of failure and you will abandon it. He advised to just meditate a few minutes each day.
So I started small. But I also did something crucial – attached it to an established habit. This means selecting a ritual you do without fail and commit your new habit as part of that ritual. This increases your chances of success.
In my case, I cycle to work daily. I took a few minutes before my commute in summer (at the beach) and after it in winter (outside my office). Six minutes guide meditation daily. I ticked my fridge checklist to celebrate each win and keep myself honest.
After about a year, the habit was embedded and I could see the benefits. Only then did I increase it gradually to 20 minutes twice a day. Now I meditate pretty much anywhere and I miss it when I don’t.
How do I meditate?
Initially, I had no clue. So I listened to the experts – literally! I used a free guided meditation from the Omvana mobile app. It allows you to mix any guided track and background music to suit you.
Currently, I happen to use Vedic meditation as taught by Kari Hamele from MeditateLoveLife. Vedic meditation basically involves sitting in silence using a mantra to maintain your focus.
Why do I prefer it? Vedic meditation is for people who live a busy life – as opposed to people who have dedicated their lives to meditation. It’s simple. It recognises that your brain has evolved to think constantly. You don’t fight it. You allow thoughts to come but don’t pursue them. Then repeat your mantra to return your focus. It’s forgiving. I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad meditation. You don’t worry about whether you have done it right. It is what it is. I just sit quietly and focus on breathing or the mantra. Long term it all adds up. You find what works for you.
Why do I meditate?
Plenty of research describes the benefits of meditation and of course I have my own thoughts on how it has helped. But it’s also interesting to hear others describing what they have noticed with me. I’ve been told that I am calmer, I am able to see the big picture and focus on what really matters. As a father and my kids pick up on the sense of calm. I certainly feel more relaxed, a great deal more aware of what matters to me and in control of my own well-being. External factors have less impact. Someone even mentioned I look better?! Hey, who am I to argue?
So what’s next?
I enjoy learning for learning’s sake so I might explore Vedic meditation a little more. I’ll write again in the next few days about embedding habits. If you want to commit to some action then perhaps download a free meditation app. Draw a line in the sand. Decide when you will start and what daily ritual to attach to. Then get your fridge checklist ready! (I’ll post a sample shortly – it’s simpler than you think!)