Structure and routine are our friends (this is one of Clear Sky’s principles). Yet, getting stuck in habit takes us out of mindfulness.
Take a moment to think about how these two work together. Meditation, for example. How do you find a balance between having a steady meditation routine and not letting your spiritual practice stagnate?
Other than finding a teacher to engage with, which we highly recommend, here are four suggestions to bring more joy, energy, and spontaneity into your sitting meditation practice.
1) Exercise vigorously before you sit
Do you slide onto the meditation cushion straight out of bed, or exhausted at the end of the day? If so, it’s not surprising if you’re lacking the energy to stay alert on the breath and the arisings.
Try some vigorous activity just before meditating and see how this affects your sits.
What does vigorous mean? Think running around your house three times. Think as many jumping jacks as you can manage, as fast as you can do them. Think running on the spot, bringing up your knees as high as you can.
Of course, safety first, so base what you do on what your body can cope with.
Then, do some stretching of the face muscles, jaw, and the lion pose with an “aaaaah” while sticking out your tongue, and you’re good and invigorated, and ready to sit with some alertness.
2) Sit with other people
If your meditation time is your “quiet time,” then perhaps it’s become a little too quiet. Connecting with others will enrich the experience and keep you from getting in an introspective “me-time” rut.
Either find a local group or you could even think about opening your practice to others once a week. One way would be to tell a few friends what time you meditate and make standing invitation for them to join you. Or, start a local Meetup group.
Aside from the added motivation and discipline to sit, doing it with others offers a richer energetic experience. After the sit, try reviewing the meditations together – each person speaking about their sit using the four foundations of mindfulness: body, feeling (pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral), mind states, and objects of mind.
This might help if you’re nervous about leading a group meditation: in the video below, Clear Sky associate teacher Duncan Cryle leads a five minute meditation with introduction and then review session with residents at Clear Sky.
Finally, honor the space you’ve created by separating the practice time from any socializing, which tends to take us back to habit mind. This could be by moving into another room to talk, or agreeing beforehand that there’s no need for more than simple goodbyes.
3) If you’re “too busy to sit”, give yourself permission to sit shorter
If you’re not sitting regularly, are you saying to yourself “it’s all or nothing?” Let’s face it, ten minutes a day is better than nothing. In fact, lots of ten-minute sits might be better than just once a week for 50 minutes on Sundays. If you can get it to 20 minutes a day, that’s an ideal minimum to go for.
Also, try looking for any assumptions that might be stopping you from having a regular meditation practice. This could be the perfectionist or all-or-nothing mindset, or you could be carrying some guilt, blame, or other self-defeating beliefs about giving yourself time to meditate.
4) Book your next retreat
An earlier blog speaks to this decisive way to boost your practice. If you’re nervous that your motivation will waiver and you’ll be looking back with regret two years from now, then go ahead and commit to some retreat time now.
Committing to this, even if your practice slips in the meantime, also sends a message to your unconscious that you’re serious.
Practicing with Clear Sky
Our meditation cabin packages might be just what you need. Choose your own dates for a supportive experience in the Canadian Rockies.