Seven Tips For Starting a Daily Meditation Practice

This is an archived post. It is actually my very first email post from November of 2013. 

I'm officially starting my weekly email today. Thanks for the encouragement from those who pushed me along to do this. I'll probably get a mass mail program at some point and make this legit, but for the time being, I'll just email you! 

I was having a conversation this week with a meditation friend who is now working in South Korea. I asked him if he was still practicing. He admitted it had been difficult to practice by himself and asked, "how does one start a routine?" 

What a great question!

It might be the most important question for those of us who want a regular meditation practice. We benefit more from 3 minutes of meditation a day than we do from sitting for a long period once in a while. 

Seven Tips for Starting (and Maintaining) a Daily Meditation Practice: 

1. Remember you love it. I'm not so good at doing things I need to do but I'm really good at doing things I want to do. Try spending some time reminding yourself how much you enjoy meditating and the positive effects being calmer and happier have on your life. 

2. Trip over it. Try linking your meditation to something you do every day. Try putting your work shoes next to your meditation cushion or leave your wallet on your seat. A simple prompt like this can help you build a practice into your day. 

3. Say it out loud. Tell some friends and family that you are making a commitment to practice everyday. We're social creatures and we respond well to positive peer pressure. (Did you note that I opened this email saying I was starting a weekly email?) 

4. Find a partner. Nothing's better than having an exercise buddy for reminding us to get to the gym. It works for meditating too. Emailing or calling a friend who is also practicing daily to support each other is a great way to help each other. 

5. Schedule it. Building commitments into your week is a great way to make sure you practice at least one or two days a week. Two friends of mine started a "silent meeting" at work where they meditate with coworkers at lunch. Many of us join sitting groups that meet weekly. These kind of scheduled events can be helpful for getting us to sit. 

6. Make it attainable. I love meditating for long periods but its not always possible. Some days I'm just too tired when the alarm goes off at 5am or the thought of sitting for 2 hours before a work day seems like too much. Often I talk to beginners who decide after their first retreat they are going to meditate for 30 minutes or an hour every day. Too much, too fast! Let your practice grow into the fabric of your life. Find what works, what doesn't seem overwhelming and stick with that for a while. 5, 10 or 15 minutes a day is an amazing accomplishment if you can stick to that for a month or two without missing a day! 

7. Track it. Famous management expert Paul Drucker said, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." I use a meditation app for my phone called "Insight Timer." It does some cool things like mute your phone while your meditating and turning it back on when you're done, and connects you with meditators around the world. Most importantly for this conversation, it tracks your progress by giving handy stats to show your consistency. It even rewards you with badges for consecutive days of sitting.  

Bonus: Be Gentle! John Diado Loori, was fond of saying, "you are perfect and complete just as you are." Practice takes discipline and effort but we must couple that with non-judgmental awareness, love and acceptance. We're human; we miss days we wanted to sit, we get distracted, day dream and we get angry and agitated. Be gentle with yourself.     

I hope these suggestions are helpful. A daily meditation practice has been one of the greatest gifts in my life. I hope it works for you too. Please drop me a note and let me know how your practice has been evolving. May your practice be strong!

Anthony A. Cernera, M.Ed. 

Quote for the Day:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi