8 weeks ago I decided – after several previous failed attempts – to give daily meditation another try. This time, I would try for 30 days minimum. Then, if it still didn’t work for me, at least I would know I had given it a real try. This number didn’t come about from any 21-day myth of habit forming or even any solid scientific reason. I just had this idea in my heart that 30 days should be enough to see some sort of benefit and at the very least, it would help me commit for a solid month.
Now, 8 weeks on, here are 5 things I’ve learnt from my daily meditation streak.
Lessons from a daily meditation streak
1) Don’t give up if it feels uncomfortable
In a busy world, there is something that feels strangely disconcerting about disconnecting with everything, even if only for a few short minutes. You might find yourself feeling like it is time wasted or wondering what you could be ticking off your to-do list during that time. However, our fast-paced, ‘get things done’ lives make that quiet reprieve essential. Give it time and you’ll find the discomfort will pass.
When I first started meditating in 2016, I fought this, sure that the discomfort was a sign that daily meditation was not for me. This time around, I went beyond the discomfort and returned to practice every day. Each day, I felt less and less uncomfortable until I actually began to enjoy the peace.Our fast-paced, 'get things done' lives make that quiet reprieve essential. Click To Tweet
2) Don’t berate yourself when your mind wanders
It will always wander. That’s what minds do. The problem comes not when your mind wanders but when you berate yourself. Then you further break your own flow by cursing yourself out or getting frustrated. Acknowledge the distraction and bring yourself back to your practice.
Personally, if I find a thought repeatedly interrupting, I pause my practice, make a note on a piece of paper and return to my practice. Knowing the thought is safe and will no longer intrude means I can return to the moment. However, I have only needed to do this twice since I started. Mostly, though, I now realise that thoughts are a little like flies. Ignore them and they will move on. Begin psychologically swatting and reacting and that tiny interruption becomes a much bigger deal.
3) Do it your way – it needs to be physically comfortable
Yes, the main thing that probably comes into your head when you think meditation is sitting on the floor, cross-legged. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this and sometimes I find that the very act of taking more care of my posture and finding a quiet space with lots of room around me adds to the sense of peace and distancing myself from the day’s mayhem. Sometimes, though, it just isn’t what I want. During those times, I will embrace mindful walking or even meditate while standing, really focusing on how my whole body feels. If sitting down on the floor doesn’t feel right, that certainly doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong or meditation is not for you!
4) Don’t give up if you skip a day
The great thing about habit tracking apps is that you feel so encouraged when you hit a streak. The downside is that you can feel so discouraged when you lapse. You will lapse, a) because you’re human and b) because sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. Let it go. If my 59 day streak (as I write this!) breaks tomorrow, should I stop meditating? Heck no. I have a new record to break is all. Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to not do something.
Missing a day doesn’t mean you’ve failed or that you’re no good at it. Trust me, I fell for this in previous attempts. I missed a couple of days and thought, “I obviously can’t do this. I can’t even get through a week.” This happened more than once before I realised that if I was treating it like a chore that had to be done every day, I probably wasn’t going to ever really benefit!Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to not do something. Click To Tweet
5) It takes time to find your best fit
Previous attempts have seen me try Daily Calm, Headspace and Ruby Wax’s book Frazzled before finally returning to Daily Calm for this last streak. It’s possible that if I’d been able to fully commit to any of them, I would still have hit this streak whatever I used, so I’m not saying that one was better than the other. However, I also tried some other things that I really couldn’t get into at all.
It’s a difficult balance between something feeling uncomfortable because it’s new and something feeling uncomfortable because it’s not a good fit for you. Don’t be afraid to try different things to find the best possible fit. There isn’t a one size fits all product – and you might find that you choose to meditate without any books, apps or other guidance. Just don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you.
Over to you…
Although I can only speak from my own experience over the last 8 weeks, I hope these words are helpful. I’m certainly no expert but I’ve learnt a lot in the last 8 weeks, both about meditation and myself. I’ve learnt there’s a great joy to be found in knowing you have some pure, unadulterated peace to look forward to every day!
Now I’d love to hear from you! Do you meditate every day? How has it helped you? Let me know in the comments!