When I first started meditating, it felt great.
I’d had a little instruction and I started sitting at home, alone, every morning.
With that, I was leaving for work every day with a state of calm and bliss, and my days were simply going much better.
Knowing what’s good for you, like meditation
The fact was, I knew my initial enthusiasm would start to subside.
Despite how good it was for me, I knew I’d start skipping a day, for example, then a few days at a time. Yet I really didn’t want to be kicking myself in a year, or ten years, for letting meditation drop completely.
Because I knew it mattered so much, then, I took a leap of faith:
I booked my first retreat, several months in advance and in Thailand, so that I’d have that commitment even if I stopped meditating in the meantime.
Several months later…
By a few weeks before that retreat, I had indeed pretty much stopped meditating. And because the flight was booked and they were expecting me, there was no question in my mind of backing out.
When I arrived in Thailand, I can honestly say it was a life changing experience. I wasn’t sure I was ready, but my practice earlier in the year was apparent to the teacher.
What I learned from this is that it’s not about being perfect- it’s about doing what’s needed to set yourself up for success. I knew from previous experience that I’d probably stop, so I did something to support the aspiration in case I started to give it up.
For the same reason, when I came back from Thailand I looked for a group or community to meditate with.
The first group I found didn’t resonate with me. After going to a few different events they offered, I knew I was looking for something else. I kept looking. A week later, I had a rare Tuesday evening off work (I taught business English most weekday evenings). I’d seen that a man called John Munroe was offering a class on Tuesdays, and so far I hadn’t been able to go. When I met him it not only resonated a truth I’d never experiences before, he also announced that he’d be teaching on Fridays, too, starting the following week.
In John’s Friday class, I’d found an oasis that supported my practice through the week. I learned that putting in the extra effort to travel across Tokyo on Friday evenings created space and energy in my mind, so I could more easily carry mindfulness through the week.
Six months later, I blocked off my Tuesday evenings from work, taking a pay cut so I could go to both classes each week. And, when I was immediately offered more part-time work that more than made up for my pay cut, I figured the universe was telling me this was a good move!
Three ways to keep your practice going
So, if you’re starting up a practice or struggling to keep one going, here are three things that just might help:
- Book a retreat now
Taking the step of reserving a retreat in advance, rather than just setting a personal goal or promise to do one, gave me confidence that I’d follow through.
If money is an issue, you might be able to pay a deposit at first and hen budget yourself each month to cover the rest.
2. Find a local group that works for you
It’s easier with others. If you have the willpower to sit, no matter what, then you’ll likely have stopped reading this by now! I found it super helpful that I have a time every week, or every day, when I know a meditation is going to happen. Now, I live in a community house that offers this to others.
There are all kinds of folks out there, offer or hoping to find a sense of community around their practice. So don’t be discouraged if the first group you meet doesn’t resonate.
3. Invite people to a join you for weekly sit
You don’t have to be a teacher to offer your space. Sitting together – opening and closing with a simple prayer or ritual – is mutually supportive. I know some people who like to read a passage from a text at their weekly group sit, and even have a small group reflection session before or after.
Honor that space – of course making sure it’s clean and conducive to clear, good states of mind, and hold a space with clear guidelines of how the session will go from arrival to departure.
What have been some of your celebrations or challenges around keeping up a regular meditation practice?
Leave a comment below to share with others and let us know.
And if you’re considering a retreat, Clear Sky’s personal cabin retreats are designed to give you a balanced of formal practice time and mindful activity.