Wednesday, January 15, 2020

How does One Start a Meditation Habit?


Man doesn’t start anything without a benefit. It is natural, nothing wrong with it. So how does one start a meditation habit?

how does one start a meditation habit


In my experience people look to meditation for two goals as follows:

  • Health Benefits
  • Attaining God

Again, in my opinion, about 90% or more of the people are interested in the health benefits of meditation. Very few are really interested in God. These are not my words. Bhagawan Krishna, Himself said so. Whatever may be the inspiration ultimately meditation is beneficial. That is good enough. Let us first understand the benefits of meditation before we get into the nuts and bolts of starting the meditation habit.

Pranayama or breath control is a sister practice of meditation. Pranayama is performed either before or as a part of a meditation session. Therefore in this article wherever I mention meditation it means the twin practice of pranayama and meditation.

Health Benefits of Meditation Habit


  • Peace of mind and calmness
  • A Clarity in thinking, riddance of confusion and more focus
  • Increased creativity; out of the box thinking; problem-solving
  • All the systems of the body slow down
  • You will be anger less
  • Practice over long periods will keep hypertension under check

Meditation Gives Immediate Results


By now you would be familiar with the standard promotional language of hair growth oils. They invariably promise excellent results after 30 to 45 days’ use. Not so in the case of meditation. You will feel good immediately after a meditation session. You will experience calmness and peace immediately. This is for sure. The other health benefits will follow on regular practice. Now let us see how we can develop the meditation habit.

How to develop a Meditation Habit?


Developing any new habit requires three essential ingredients as follows:

  • Strong motivation
  • Do the act repeatedly without break for a certain number of days
  • Keeping track

Let us look at these elements in detail.


Motivation

For forming any habit whether good or bad a strong enthusiasm is needed. It means a strong need or wish that drives one to action. Following examples will make the idea clear:

Need/ Desire
Actions
Looking Good
Exercises, yoga
A desire for money
Striving for education, hard work in the job/ business.
Kick
Smoking/ Drinking/ Use of drugs
Good Health
Exercises, yoga, meditation
Attaining God
Yoga, meditation, devotion, the study of scriptures, etc.

When people start a new habit but give up on the way it means that motivation is not strong enough. As an illustration, let us talk about quitting smoking. If you ask a smoker he will admit that he had quit smoking several times in the past only to fall back into the habit. However, if he is diagnosed with a serious illness and the doctor warns him that he will certainly die unless he quits smoking he is quite likely to quit. Here the strong desire to live motivates the person to give up the bad habit.


Doing it till the New Habit becomes Automatic

Staring the Meditation Habit requires discipline like following the Yama and Niyama in the Ashtanga Yoga. Once the new habit is taken up it should be followed consistently without a break for a certain number of days. What is this duration? Many people quote many numbers like 21 days, 45 days, 90 days and so on.

However as per Philippa Lally’s research on an average, it takes 66 days to make a new habit automatic. It depends on person-to-person, nature and difficulty of the habit, etc. In fact, it could be as short as 18 days and as long as 254 days or eight and a half months.


Monitoring or Keeping a Watch


One important behavioural principle is that what you monitor will improve. If you keep track of your personal finance diligently your financial conditions will improve. This is not simply because you may cut down on wasteful expenses, you may even start getting more income. The reasons behind this are many and quite complex. Some relate to the physical body-mind domain and some to transcendental causes.

Besides the intricate principle described above keeping a watch on the activity on a regular basis motivates you to keep it up. You will not like to break the good track record.

I have been using a spiritual app called BlackLotus developed by Om Swami of Badrika Ashram for about a year or so. Besides several features it automatically keeps a record of the user’s spiritual activities on three counts as follows:

  • Chanting
  • Meditation
  • Kind Acts
    The main statistics it keeps is:
     
             1.  Total Days
      2.  Longest Streak – the number of days the practice was carried our without a break
      3.  Total Time

             4.  Longest Session – longest duration of a single session
    In the following picture I show my statistics for meditation since I started using this app.


black lotus app picture



Believe me now I don’t want to break my current streak – that is, break the practice – at any cost. I travel a lot catching flights at odd hours. Still, I don’t break my habit of chanting and meditation every day. I do these while in a flight or in a car on the highway. Even in the worst of the cases (these are very rare and maybe once or twice a month) I try to meditate for at least for a minute to keep my streak intact.


To end this discussion, the secret to forming the meditation habit is to have a strong drive, doing it without interruption and finally keeping a record.

Om Shanti!

Best Regards,

Anand


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