Meditation is one of the most important tools in the Jedi toolbox. It helps us calm down, analyze, and problem solve, both internally, and in the world around us. But the full benefits of meditation only unlock if you practice regularly, with the ideal being daily meditation for at least 20 to 30 minutes at a time (when the medical benefits start to kick in). For those who are new to meditation, are particularly distractable thanks to external stresses, brain chemistry, or just your own nature, or those of us who have slipped in our meditation practice, that is a daunting goal.
So how do we build good meditation habits?
Firstly, we have a goal, and to want to get there. Having a goal gives you a direction to head and way to measure your progress, but behavior rarely becomes a habit when compelled externally. Guilting yourself, having others harangue you, these are ways to make yourself meditate (although perhaps not ideally) but they will not help you continue to meditate and build positive associations with mediation. You must motivate yourself.
Secondly, we need to not judge ourselves for failure. It is so easy to jump in at the deep end, and just try and start meditating for long periods from the getgo. However, if you haven’t built a foundation, the possibility of distraction skyrockets. Even when we start small, sometimes it just isn’t working. Relax, and don’t be critical of yourself. The fact that you tried to meditate is already progress; give yourself a break and try again in an hour. Think of your mistakes or problems as obstacles or setbacks; merely things to move past on your way to your goal, not the end of the road.
Thirdly, we need to utilize all our tools to shore up our self discipline and keep on practicing. You want it, so now you have to put in the work. There are a couple different tools that can help with this.
- Be accountable: make yourself write about your day’s mediation every day, have your spouse or friend remind you to practice or check in on your progress.
- Set a regular schedule: it’s easy to forget, or get caught up in everyday life and decide that you don’t have time this day, this month, right now.
- Enlist Help: Whether its a meditation group, your Jedi friends, or even an app that will keep you motivated, don’t be afraid to use all the resources at your disposal to get good habits settled in place.
Building a meditation practice is like preparing for a storm. You learn to batten down the hatches, collect resources, and do maintenance so your home is as waterproof and solid as possible while there are still blue skies. Although meditation will help you whether the storm as it happens, it will help much more if your metaphorical house doesn’t have a leaky roof or empty pantry. Building a practice strengthens your ability to act like a Jedi no matter the circumstances.
Note: The App linked above is calm.com. I have not been paid in any way to advertise for them, but I have used their app extensively for meditation reminders, guided meditations, and a way to create a meditative space no matter where I am with just a pair of headphones. If you are brand new to meditation, or are getting back on the horse, or have trouble focusing, I highly recommend them (there is both a free and paid version, which are equally good, but the paid version has many more meditations and is worth your while).