4 Steps to Motivate Yourself to Meditate
Are you happy and cheerful? Do you feel that you can take on the world and accomplish whatever your heart desires? Do you feel like this on a sunny day or has someone just paid you a compliment? There are many things in life that determines how we feel at a given moment and what motivates us to take action.
The dictionary meaning of the word 'motivation' is 'the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way' and 'the general desire or willingness of someone to do something'. The clues about how to motivate oneself to do anything are in the words 'reason', 'desire' and 'willingness'.
Many of us are aware of the advantages and benefits of meditation and would like to begin practicing it daily. The real challenge is to sustain the practice over many years without which a person cannot reap the benefits of meditation. How to motivate yourself to meditate especially at those times when you are not feeling enthusiastic or your circumstances are not ideal to continue the practice.
The Power of Meditation
Step 1: List the Reasons to Meditate
Let us take the word 'reason' in the context of meditation. What are the reasons that will make you want to meditate? What is the purpose of deciding on a daily meditation practice? Make a list of reasons such as:
- Meditation improves concentration
- Meditation results in brain growth
- Meditation reduces stress
- Meditation will make me calmer
- Mindfulness meditation will help improve the quality of my life.
- It reduces the risk of heart disease.
- It will improve focus and will help accomplish my goals.
Make your own list and see what it is that you actually want from practicing meditation. It would be a good idea to put the list up somewhere you can see it often. This will renew your enthusiasm to meditate.
Step 2: List the Actions to be Taken to Meditate Daily
Regularity rather than duration is the road to success in meditation. Even if you do it 5-10 minutes a day will bring beneficial results in the quality of your life. We must have the desire and courage to change our life and ourselves and the willingness to take action.
Make a list of things you need to do so that you can start your meditation practice. What are the changes you need to make in your life to make it possible? For example some of the determining factors would be:
- Make an appointment with yourself.
- Decide the time for meditating everyday, early morning or noon is best.
- Wake up half an hour early to fit in the time for meditation.
- Make a place exclusively for meditation practice.
- Bring inspiring objects to the place like an image of a holy person, symbol or an object to meditate on.
- Keep it free of clutter.
- Do stretches before meditation. It is important to have a relaxed body to meditate.
- Make a chart for 30 days or more with a column for DATE, TIME and QUALITY of meditation.
- Start keeping a journal of your meditation practice. This is a great motivator. It will help you see where you were when you started and help you decide what is the best way to do your practice.
- Find a friend to do join in with your plans. He or she too could start a similar practice and you can support each other.
- Select a book of inspiring quotations that you can put into practice in your daily life. Synchronicity works all the time. The very subject you might be meditating upon, such as kindness, truth, beauty, goodness, courage, etc., will pop up during the day. You will start seeing opportunities to put them into practice. Such a dynamic way of practicing will motivate you to continue the practice.
Step 3: Be Gentle with Yourself
Humans are creatures of varying moods, no one can sustain any one mood for long. Remember 'This too shall pass away', when you are feeling enthusiastic and upbeat and also when you are feeling down in the dumps.
Continue your meditation practice whatever be the quality of that day's meditation. It cannot be perfect everyday. When you work with the mind, many things that have disappeared into the background will come to the foreground. This will mean you will have to deal with things about yourself that you have not thought about for a long time. Be gentle with yourself. On the days you don't feel like meditating, accept it and sit down anyway in your usual spot and just observe your breathing.
Step 4: Never Give Up
Setbacks are part of the practice. You might even fall sick, but continue your practice. It is a good idea not to miss more than two days of practice at a time. Start again. It takes 21 days to create a habit and only three days to break it. Be gentle with yourself. On the days you don't feel like meditating, accept it and sit down anyway in your usual spot and just observe your breathing.
Never give up. For many years I have done meditation practice on and off. However, it is only since the beginning of this year that I have been most regular. Though I have had ups and downs I have continued to do daily meditation practice. The thing that helped me the most is starting what I called the 90 Days Project for Daily Practice. I made a chart as I have suggested above and whenever I missed a day, I started all over again. This improved my will power and motivated me to try to succeed. Now I don't even need a chart. However, I am planning to start a meditation journal next year.
The most important thing that happened to me is that I gained confidence and feel that I can succeed in whatever I decision I make. It is a wonderful feeling of being empowered. This is the best kind of motivation. Once you start the practice everything else follows.
A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. – Chinese proverb