Today I’m talking about what happens when your meditation practice fails and that hard-earned habit is gone.
Isn’t it funny the way we try to stop ourselves being vulnerable. Or looking less than perfect.
If you could see me when I head to the shop (messy hair, no make up, daggy trakky daks), you’d think I have no problem looking less than perfect. And in some things, that’s true.
But then it comes to this topic. Meditation. A topic I love so much I’m building a career out of it. And how do I admit that I have trouble meditating every day? That some days I manage five minutes before I give it up for a lost cause?
I’ve been coming up with new ideas, getting distracted wondering where the dog is, and procrastinating by updating my budget, to avoid putting these words on screen.
It’s a topic too important to avoid, though.
Because it’s too easy to get discouraged. Too easy to give it up. To say ‘oh, I missed a day, guess I’ll try again next week’ and next week never comes. I know that, because it’s my story too.
I’ve said before that the first time I meditated I was eleven, and taught myself from an article in a magazine (my cherished blow-up doll method of relaxation). I used it on and off over the years, with no regularity, just when I felt I needed it.
Yoga practice in my teen years came with some meditation, but I didn’t start meditating regularly until my twenties. I went to a weekly meditation class. When there was a class, I meditated. No class, no meditation. I knew how to meditate without it, but it all seemed so difficult.
When I moved away (or my teacher did, I can’t remember which), I stopped meditating.
Over the years since then there have been attempts to start a daily practice. They’d last weeks, or even months, but then I’d work late, or be too tired, and suddenly it’s been six months without meditation again.
Why is it so hard?
I love meditating. I love sitting in stillness. I love feeling connected to Spirit, and experiencing the adventures my guides send me on. I love feeling full of the light of love, as I so often do at the end of a meditation.
So why is it so hard to to make meditation a habit?
I think there’s a few reasons.
It’s easy to get disheartened
Especially when you’re starting out, there’ll be days you see nothing. Even now, today in fact, twenty-seven years since I first read that article, I have meditations where I can’t settle, I see nothing and I barely get beyond a few deep breaths.
I actually thought this morning, “this used to be easier”, as if meditation is a skill I’d lose as I get older.
It’s easy to get distracted
There’s a saying, by Dr. Sukhraj Dhillon. “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”
So true, but who has an hour? Who has twenty minutes some days?
The best time to meditate is when you’ll actually do it, but some days you sleep in. Some days there’s a wedding to go to or a knock on the door at the wrong time.
And once you’ve been distracted once, it’s easier to get distracted again. “Oh, that day without meditation wasn’t so bad,” and you let the next day go. You forget how good you feel with meditation in your life, and put it to the end of your to-do list (I find this is true with exercise as well – anyone else?).
It’s easy to let the mean girl in
I’m borrowing ‘mean girl’ from Melissa Ambrosini, because I finished her book this morning, and I knew exactly what she was talking about.
We all have that critic inside us – some people call it ego – that wants life to continue as it is. All that negative self-talk, the voice telling you that you’ll fail? That’s your mean girl.
Meditation is a beautiful, powerful way of shutting your mean girl up for ten, fifteen, fifty minutes. When the ego is quiet, your truth can come forward and you can see the true beauty of your soul.
Meditation connects us, but ego wants us to stay separate, so your mean girl can be particularly dedicated to interrupting meditation time.
How do you get past all those things?
Find a time that works for you, make it a habit. Don’t let the bad days stop you from having the good experiences. If your mean girl is especially loud, check out Melissa’s book (OMGAMAZING!).
Then? Implement the five minute rule.
What’s the five minute rule? It’s a hurdle so low it’s impossible not to get over it.
When I was trying to get into a daily writing habit, I said I would write 100 words a day. That’s it. It’s barely a paragraph. If I got into the groove and managed 1000, then awesome, but even if I had to write “the end” to get my 100, then that’s a successful day and aren’t I magnificent?
With meditation, your hurdle is sitting in stillness for five minutes. Put on a some meditation music that goes for five minutes or so (make sure that it will continue to the next song after).
Start with concentrating on your breathing. Relax your body. If nothing is working for you, repeat an affirmation or a mantra as your focus. If you fall deeply into the meditation and continue, that’s great. But if the song ends and you’re getting nowhere, then thank the universe and go on with your day.
And don’t beat yourself up – five minutes of sitting in stillness has amazing benefits, and if you used an affirmation, then that’s helping you as well. Five minutes is awesome, and don’t let anyone – especially yourself – tell you different.
Sometimes looking through the blogs or books of spiritual and meditation teachers it can be easy to be disheartened. They look like they have it all together, and spend their days in perfect peace.
I watch Masterchef while eating blocks of chocolate and specialise in reading comment sections and getting angry. Some days it feels like it’s all imperfection.
But every day is a journey, and an opportunity, and an adventure. And if I’m grasping it with both hands, then I’m succeeding, and so are you.
Have you got a daily practice yet? How did you get there? What trick did you use to make it a habit?