A lot of people go to meditation seminars, buy books on meditation, and even have guided meditations downloaded onto their mobile devices … but many of them don't actually meditate. Not regularly, at least.
This is normal. In marketing there a concept known as AIDA, which describes the process that we must go through before taking any real action. AIDA stands for: Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action.
So how do we move ourselves along the continuum from Interest or Desire to Action, so that we may create a regular meditation habit? In teaching meditation for years, I have found the following seven tips quite useful. I hope you do, too!
1. Set yourself a six-week meditation challenge.
Making only a finite commitment to meditation practice feels achievable. There is good psychology behind this, because even though we feel we're making only a finite commitment, six weeks is the time it takes to establish a new habit. And once a habit is established, it's more painful to break it than to continue.
2. Don't procrastinate.
You can always find a reason to wait until next week or month or until some major work/personal event is resolved, before you begin meditating. Don't. Start your meditation habit today!
3. Find a teacher and/or group.
You wouldn't try to learn the piano or take up yoga without a teacher. As a skills-based practice, meditation is just the same. It's also helpful to help normalize what is, to begin with, an unusual activity, even though you'll come to find it is the most natural state in the world.
4. Pick your battles.
Don't take up meditating while also trying to begin a new diet or language class. Each of us has only a finite supply of willpower on any given day. It's better to focus on one new challenge at a time and make in part of our normal routine, before taking on the next challenge.
5. Monitor yourself and reward.
The very act of keeping track of a new behavior helps reinforce it. Whatever works for you — journaling or a diary — keep a watch. Reward yourself if you manage, say, your five out of seven days in a week, with an external reinforcement like a piece of cake or a walk on the beach.
In a short time, meditation itself will be its own reward, but in the early days, a self-administered pat on the back certainly doesn't hurt!
6. Declare your goal.
If you live or work with people who support what you're trying to do, tell them that you've taken up the six week challenge. They will help hold you accountable.
7. Stop catastrophizing.
If you miss out on a day, or even three or four, do not fret. It is not a catastrophe! You are not a worthless human being because you haven't kept up the habit, nor does it mean you can't get back into it. Be gentle with yourself and start again. Soon enough you will discover that meditation is highly addictive.
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