Meditation doesn't belong on your to do list
List writing makes me really happy.
Seriously, I love to have a good list of all the things I want to get done in a day, or a week or a nice lengthy grocery list. It all comes down to the satisfaction of ticking things off one by one - yes, I did all these things today! Go me!
For many years, meditation made it onto the daily list often. Usually somewhere towards the bottom, almost as an afterthought - oh yes, meditate, that’s really good for my brain I will totally do that after lunch or before dinner. Sadly, as is the fate of many things that are good for us, this was frequently one of the unchecked boxes by my 11pm wrap-up. I would prioritise replying to emails, cleaning the kitchen and paying invoices over meditation more often than not.
Last year I finally decided to make meditation a daily practice. Not something I should try to do once in a while, but a regular, habitual part of my morning. It came off the to do list, and into my routine.
This shift seemed small but was actually a game-changer. Sitting down to meditate in the morning has become one of the things I do every single day along with brushing my teeth, having a shower and enjoying my morning coffee. The internal reorganization of its place in my life finally shifted it from a should to a habit.
If you want meditation to become part of your daily life, then it doesn’t belong on the to do list. No more than eating or sleeping or going to work. Once you decide to incorporate it into your day-to-day, it has to become routine - not a box to be ticked off or left undone.
Take away the choice and commit.
Obviously this isn’t easy, or I would have done it years ago. Reflecting on the other things that helped me make the switch, these are a few other factors that helped:
- Commit for a certain period of time, such as 90 days. Give yourself long enough for a habit to form, but a time period that still seems manageable.
- Keep reading on the subject to stay inspired. You need to want to meditate in order to keep going. It isn’t always fun, and can sometimes be boring, so I found it helps to read more about how the occasional bad day is worth it in the long run! Here are a few of my suggestions.
- Join a local meditation group or online community. Sitting with other people gives you a chance to share your experiences and to remember that you aren’t alone. Lots of other like-minded people are trying to sit quietly with their thoughts too, and probably finding it just as tricky as you do!
- Sit in the same place every day. Having a regular spot to sit in helps your mind adjust to the routine. Pulling out the cushion or chair means you start to mentally prepare for meditation even before you sit down.
- Sit at around the same time every day. Much like the space, sticking to a similar time of day will definitely help you form a routine. It doesn’t have to be a set time, I always meditate before breakfast - which could be 7am on weekdays or 11am on a lazy Sunday!
Meditation isn’t a chore that you have to do, or something that should be on a list of ways to improve yourself. Instead, it is a practice that over time can actually change your brain and your mind to help you become more present and grounded in your day-to-day life. This takes time, it takes practice and it takes consistency. If you want to give it a go, make it part of your life rather than another item on your list of things to achieve.