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Mindfulness techniques are like apps or pieces of software. The apps might be great, but they won’t work perfectly if you run them on a slow, clunky, out-of-date device. Sometimes you have to update the hardware—in this case your brain.
Maybe you’ve been using the techniques that I share in the Mind your mind series for dealing with stress, improving your focus, and sharpening your mind. Want to power them up? Here’s how you can access the full strength of these techniques: meditation. If you meditate every day, even just a few minutes, the mindfulness techniques you’ve learned will become much more powerful. Plus, the meditation practice itself becomes very restful and enjoyable, like giving your mind a well-deserved break.
Two game-changing tricks to develop a meditation habit
Meditation is easy (see previous posts). But creating a habit of daily practice is not. I struggled for years before discovering two tricks that solved the problem for me:
I use this trick whenever I feel the urge to skip my daily sit or do it “later” (aka never). The trick is this: I shrink the length of the session in my head until I hit a level I don’t feel resistance to.
For example: “Could I do 15 minutes? No, I feel resistance, I’m not gonna do it. OK, what about 10? Still too long, the thought puts me off. Maybe five? Huh, I don’t feel resistance to that. I feel like I can sit for five.” Boom.
Then, if my session ends and I feel like sitting longer, I do.
I wake up at a set time every morning and immediately meditate, before doing anything else.
You might be different, but if I do anything else first — breakfast, a workout, checking my phone — I have trouble getting myself to sit and meditate. Actually, I’ll go further: Putting off the morning sit almost guarantees I won’t sit at all.
So there’s a second part to this trick: Admitting to myself that “I’ll sit later” is code for “I’m skipping my sit today.”
Once I owned up to that, meditating daily became almost effortless. I just stopped believing my own “I’ll sit later” lie and committed to sitting first thing in the morning, when I’d actually do it. This was a game-changer for me.