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Discover The Power of Meditation With Daily Practice

Let’s talk about how to discover the power of meditation. Ultimately, all it requires is consistent daily practice over months and years.

Many people start out on the meditation journey but soon falter and don’t build a long-term daily habit.

I can’t remember how many times someone has told me “I’ve tried meditation a few times but it was too difficult and I never made it stick.” I bet there are more meditators of this ilk than those who go deep and truly reap the benefits.

Here we talk seriously about building a daily meditation habit. I don’t just tell you what you want to hear: we confront the serious obstacles to developing a solid practice.

Having been on the horse for nearly a decade, I have experienced these obstacles first hand and gone through many tests. But now I have a stronger relationship to meditation than ever, and I want you to develop a similar relationship.

There are at least nine areas that contribute to our consistency. The more of these you master, the likelier you are to build a lasting habit and see the power of meditation.

Let’s start with your vision – why do you want to meditate anyway?

Discover the Power of Meditation – 1: Have a Compelling Vision

All journeys start with a compelling vision. Our vision is what mobilises us to make plans and take action. And meditation is no different – it’s crucial you have a long-term vision for your practice, otherwise you’ll probably run out of rocket fuel and never glimpse the power of meditation.

This advice from John-Kabat Zinn has haunted me since I first read it:

“I used to think that meditation practice was so powerful in itself and so healing that so long as you devoted yourself to it on a regular basis, you would eventually see growth and change. But time has taught me that some kind of personal vision is also necessary.”

John Kabat-Zinn

We all come into meditation for a reason. Usually it’s because we want to free ourselves from our mind, or feel more joy, or to de-stress. These are legitimate goals, and their solution is probably way more profound than you can imagine right now.

If your motivation is currently weak, do some research into meditation. Find reports from experienced meditators who’ve experienced the power of meditation. Read scientific articles. Listen to spiritual masters. Read my articles on meditation. Find something that resonates with you and gives you a strong motivation to practice.

Care for Your Vision

Whatever you vision is, look after it. Put it in a metaphorical pot, give it sunlight and water, and protect it from the elements. By caring for it, you get energy for the hard work needed to achieve it.

I recommend you write down this vision in a notebook and revisit it before your practice sessions. It’ll remind you of just why you’re doing your meditation every day.

My Experience: Creating a Vision. My vision has morphed and grown over the years. I’ve come to realise that every moment of my life is a test of my practice, and so my vision is to hold meditative awareness non-stop. I regularly fall short of that benchmark, but I know what I’m aiming for, and it motivates me.

Discover the Power of Meditation – 2: Join a Community

Another powerful way of maintaining a daily meditation habit is to join a community of meditators. It can be virtual or in-person. You can do classes with an expert or simply maintain contact with people via the internet.

This gives you accountability. I remember when I used to go to in-person classes, and I felt much more motivated to meditate daily. If I didn’t, it seemed I was letting others down and getting left behind. And now that I run the Mindfulness Meditation Tribe where I live, I feel a duty to uphold a daily habit and deepen my practice.

You also get to share your practice with others. Their commitment makes you commit. Their troubles help you manage your own. And their moments of insight inspire you to keep practicing.

Discover the Power of Meditation – 3: Learn from Veteran Meditators

I remember when I did physics classes at school and we’d watch documentaries that went way beyond our level. I was exposed to topics like quantum mechanics and quarks well before I understood the technical background.

Part of me felt inferior and ignorant, but another part of me felt inspired. I could see the bigger picture of the subject and that it went way beyond my little high-school physics class. I could see that it was a worldwide phenomena with millions of people involved, some of whom were making great strides towards revolutionising our understanding of the world.

It’s good to do the same with meditation. Open your mind. See what the masters have done to reach their standing. Learn from their mistakes and successes. Not only will this inspire you to commit to daily practice, it will open you up to greater possibilities, like spiritual awakening, that you won’t find in apps or at community classes.

My experience: Learning from Veterans. When I listen to advanced talks on meditation, I feel a new reality opening up inside me. My perspective expands, I can see my future self awakening, and I gain new energy for the journey.

Popular modern masters include Mingyur Rinpoche, Matthieu Richard, Ken Wilber, Doshin Roshi and John Kabat-Zinn.

Discover the Power of Meditation – 4: Create a Structure

It’s great to set a regular time of day, place and duration for your practice. This helps build continuity and make it a habit.

A student recently asked me at what time they should meditate. This is a tricky question to answer, because the question itself often contains certain assumptions, such as that we can’t meditate when we feel tired, or we meditate to produce a certain state. Neither of these are entirely true.

That said, when you start out it’s best to pick the time when you feel most alert. Many people like meditating first thing in the morning, but if you take ages to feel fully awake, it’s best you try another time. Others like waiting until their kids are in bed and they have time to fully focus on their practice, but you might feel sleepy by that time of day. The key is to experiment and find the time that suits you best.

Location and Duration

As for location, if you’re a newbie you’ll need to isolate yourself and sit in a quiet room with few distractions. Many meditators recommend doing it in the same place every day to help ingrain the habit. Also, know that as your practice develops you might even seek out distractions to challenge yourself.

Finally, let’s talk about duration. Some people recommend five minutes a day for beginners, but I demand more of my students. Try 20 minutes to begin with, even if it’s the first time you’ve meditated, and progress to 45-60 minutes over the course of the next year.

My Experience: Creating a Structure. My routine has changed many times over the years. Right now, I do 45 minutes first thing in the morning. I sit on my seiza in my living room, before others wake up. I’ve noticed that having this clarity is helpful – when I wake up, I know I’m going to meditate.

5: Set Targets and Track Your Progress

Let’s create further structures for our practice. I encourage you to set goals – for consecutive days, for example. Write down your progress in a notebook or spreadsheet, keeping track of your days and durations. I think this is particularly imporant if you meditate alone.

I have a notebook where I tally up my weekly hours for a whole year. Every month, I pass this over to a spreadsheet where I can see my yearly total hours along with my total lifetime hours. This helps me put things in perspective and see how far I’ve come.

As for targets, a couple of months ago I set the target of meditating 150 days in a row. Before that, I was meditating regularly, but not every day. I’ve done 45 minutes per day for 44 consecutive days, and counting.

You can make your system as elaborate or simple as you like. The key is that it should inspire you to meditate.

Discover the Power of Meditation – 6: Do It In Daily Life

I encourage all my students to bring meditation into their daily life as much as possible. In our classes we blend sitting meditation with exercises that we can bring into our daily activities, such that we meditate as we go about our life.

Not only do we rack up more practice this way, we also maximise our chances for insight and transformation, and start to use our practice to inform our entire life.

To get started with this, see my articles 17 Mindfulness Meditation Practices for Everyday Life and Do Moving Meditation to Supercharge Your Practice.

7: Set the Right Expectations

Your mindset also plays a big role in whether you’ll be consistent or not. The truth is that most people give up with meditation before they give it a chance. And it’s because they have certain expectations about it.

If you come in expecting bliss, presence and clarity from day one of your practice, you’re in for a rude awakening. Most likely, you’ll be confronted with harsh realities: your lack of presence, your wandering mind, and unpleasant stuff like boredom and physical pain.

You’re best to come in expecting that meditation is hard. This might dampen your spirits, but see it like this: meditation is a workout. When we do physical exercise, we put in hard effort and persist through the pain because we know that it’s a good sign. If you don’t sweat while you’re exercising, it’s not effective.

The same goes for meditation, except instead of sweating, we feel tiredness, boredom, physical pain and mind-wandering. Sure, there are moments of flow and ease, especially when your practice goes deep, but most of the time you’ll be working hard.

Learn about the four biggest meditation myths in this video.

Discover the Power of Meditation – 8: Be Determined and Persistent

As I underline in my article Mentality & Mindset: Your Ticket to Mastery in Learning, your mindset is crucial in any pursuit that requires long-term dedication. And persistence is an enormous part of it.

If you’ve always found meditation tough and have never maintained the habit long enough to see change, it’s not because you’re inherently bad at meditation. It’s simply because you haven’t persisted enough.

Keep getting back on the cushion. Keep practicing even when all seems lost. Eventually you’ll reap the rewards.

If one does not possess persistence, one does not achieve noteworthy success in any calling.

Napoleon Hill

9: Love It

Though it’s crucial to be determined and disciplined, you must also love the practice. If you don’t, I don’t think you can sustain it. Sure, meditation isn’t easy, and daily practice is a big commitment, but if you follow all the steps above and receive good instruction, eventually you’ll fall in love with it.

If that day seems a while away, look for the upsides of your current practice. You might not have experienced any solid, lasting change, but you’ve probably had signs of what’s to come. Use this as inspiration and appreciate what your commitment to meditation has given you so far.

My Experience: Loving Meditation. My meditation practice has gone through many phases. I’ve had spells of extraordinary motivation and others of indifference. I’ve had times where I’ve experienced the power of meditation and others when I thought it was all nonsense. But now I can see it has become part of my identity and deeply impacted me. Though I’ll still experience demotivation and ruts, there’s no going back. It’s part of me now.

I hope these tips help you build a consistent meditation habit. For more free meditation resources, head to my Learn How to Meditate series.

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