Four Ways to Revitalize Your Meditation Practice
How do you revitalize your practice? Here are four tips that might help
Habit is the opposite of mindfulness. Yet, structure and routine are your friends.
Take a moment to think about the previous two sentences. How do these two ideas work together?
Take 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, which we highly recommend, here are four suggestions to bring more joy, energy, and spontaneity into your meditation practice.
1) Exercise vigorously before you sit
Do you slide onto the cushion straight out of bed, or exhausted at the end of the day? If so, do you find 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.
Safety first–do what your body can cope with.
As you sit, add in some stretching of the face muscles, jaw, and sounds out “aaaaah” while sticking out the tongue. Now you’re good and invigorated, and ready to sit.
2) Join or start your own group
If your meditation time is your “quiet time” alone, you might be missing out on the power of a group. Invite a friend to sit with you once a week, or a few times a week. Tell a few friends what time you meditate and make standing invitation for them to join you. You could even start a local online Meetup group to help motivate yourself and others.
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.
Honor the space 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) Check some of your assumptions
If one reason you feel your meditation needs revitalizing is that you’re not sitting regularly, are you saying to yourself “it’s an hour 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, even better.
To take this point a little wider, try looking for any assumptions that might be stopping you from having a regular meditation practice. This could be a perfectionist or all-or-nothing mindset, or carrying some guilt, blame, or other self-defeating beliefs about giving yourself time to meditate.
4) Book your next retreat
We published a blog some time ago about motivating yourself by booking a retreat. You don’t have to be goal oriented, though. If you book a retreat ahead of time, even if you’ve stopped meditating regularly in the meantime you’ll have the retreat to revitalise your practice. So why not carve out some retreat time this year?
What are you ready for? A weekend, a week?
Practicing with Clear Sky and our sangha
As well as our meditation cabins, where you can book from 3 nights in isolation, Clear Sky does offer other ways to boost your practice. If you’re in Calgary, Toronto, or Nelson, BC, you can connect with our local sangha groups.