Building a Habit: Meditation
What if I told you there was a tool scientifically proven to help you feel more relaxed, concentrate easier, be more productive, reduce stress, and manage complex emotions? Would you use it?
Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to make a lot of changes, and as a result I’ve found myself juggling many things at once. It’s been a careful balancing act, and certain times have been more successful than others. The idea that there’s a tool out there that could help me manage these changes and perform better overall is quite appealing. So why wouldn’t I do it?
Meditation is something that’s always interested my rational side (aka, my rider) but never really my emotional side (aka, my elephant). I’ve known many people and have heard of many others that have found tremendous benefit from meditation, but I’ve never felt a strong pull to try it myself – that is until very recently when I saw something that appealed to my elephant.
In a 2012 Ted Talk, Andy Puddicombe discusses his experience with meditation, but describes it with a very strong visual – juggling – something I could definitely relate to. Everything I had heard and read about meditation thus far had been presented to me in a way that would make me think about it and analyze it. For the first time, this talk made me see it, and ultimately feel it. I found the feeling that I needed to change and begin meditating.
The question for me now is where to begin, because when I think about meditation, I think about candles, incense, and monks chanting in a temple. Interestingly enough, Andy Puddicombe used to be one of those monks I envision. This seems like a BIG change for me. My goal is to break this seemingly big change into a number of smaller changes. To do this, I’m going to turn meditating into a small, daily habit. I will start by finding the bright spots, which in this case is that I already have many other daily habits. In order to shape the path to create my meditation habit, I will use another daily habit as an action trigger.
Based on the research I’ve done, meditating in the morning seems to be one of the best ways to start off the day. As such, I’m going to use my habit of making the bed in the morning as my action trigger to meditate. I’ve been making my bed every morning consistently since I was 8 years old, so for me this is a very easy and reliable action trigger.
In order to shrink the change as much as I can, I’m going to start by meditating just 5 minutes a day. It is recommended that you do at least 10 minutes a day, with 30 minutes being phenomenal, but I will start with 5 because I know I can definitely fit that into my morning routine. Once I have consistently meditated 5 minutes a day for 3 months, I will begin by adding an additional minute each month until I make it to 10 minutes. By then, I will have been meditating daily for 8 months, and I should I have a very solid habit down.
My ultimate destination is to make it to 20 minutes of meditation a day: 10 minutes in the morning, and 10 minutes in the evening after work. For now though, my only goal is to achieve 5 minutes a day. I will follow these critical moves I’ve scripted with the hopes of achieving that. I think if I can make this small change into a daily habit, it will help my life in more ways than one. My hope is that it will help improve my work, my education, my writing, my photography, and my general outlook on life.
The one thing I can ask to those of you watching is that if you know me, ask me how it’s going. The more people I have holding me accountable, the more likely it is I will achieve my goal. The first day begins now.