When you first begin to meditate, you may find yourself having trouble maintaining a regular practice. Life gets in the way. You have obligations, responsibilities, and things you need and want to do. But to really see the benefits of meditation, it’s important to figure out how to practice meditation daily.
Other kinds of resistance tend to happen as well. Understanding the types of resistance that tends to surface when you’re starting a daily meditation practice, helps you overcome them when they happen. It allows you to be better equipped so that you’re better able to stick to what you’ve set out to do.
Plus, like any other new habit or routine, it requires some discipline.
We’re going to go through how to practice meditation daily and the practical strategies you can apply to form a habit, and the types of resistance most people face so you’re ready for it when it happens.
I should note that it doesn’t matter what kind of meditation you’re starting with. These tips and strategies will help everyone. Whether you’re practicing mindfulness meditation or loving-kindness.
Types of resistance that stops people from making meditation a daily practice
As we mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of resistance that happens when we try to stick to a daily meditation practice.
You know the feeling, you finally make time to sit, and when you sit there’s something else that pulls you away from the practice or even prevents it from starting altogether. Worse still, sometimes we never even make it to the cushion. We run out of time or we can’t find any in the day.
It’s normal, but until we understand why we’re not maintaining a daily meditation practice, we’ll never succeed in knowing how to practice meditation daily.
Here are the more common forms of resistance new practicers of meditation often confront:
- Not enough time: Nobody has enough time anymore. We’re all busy, full of responsibilities, and have filled schedules. The reality is, however, that there are ways to make time to meditate.
- Not enough variety: If your practice becomes stale or boring because you’ve heard the same guided meditation dozens of times, it can be unexciting and keep you from making time to meditate.
- Not enough privacy: Even if we’re able to make time, it’s sometimes hard to find a private spot where we can have a productive practice.
- Not enough discipline: In some ways, this is a catch-22. Meditation can help you build discipline, but it’s hard to meditate when you don’t have much of it. Part of discipline is motivation. When you’re really motivated, you’ll find the discipline.
- Boredom and irritability: Most new comers experience boredom and irritability. Even when they make time to sit and practice, they’ll sometimes get up in the middle of their practice and give up. This is common, but there’s ways to use boredom and irritability in your practice.
- Not enough progress: One of the things that can crush one’s motivation to meditation is when there’s no real progress made. If you don’t think you’re getting anywhere with meditation, there’s very little incentive for you to stick with it.
Most of us will be able to relate to one or two of the above forms of resistance to meditation. If you’re unlucky enough, you might have all of them. Don’t fret! We will address each of these and provide strategies that help chip away at these forms of resistance.
How to practice meditation daily
Now that we understand the most common types of resistance, we can dive into the practical strategies that help us develop a daily meditation practice.
1. Set a schedule and stick to it
The best time to meditate is the time that works best for you. When it comes to maintaining a daily meditation practice, setting a schedule and sticking to it is the most important step and tip.
I mean really schedule it, too. It’s not as simple as telling yourself “I’ll meditate tomorrow at 9am.” Schedule the day in your calendar and block it off. Whatever app, tool, or physical calendar you use, block off time for meditation. Don’t allow other things to creep their way into your meditation schedule.
If you’re not able to stick to your scheduled time, reconsider the time you set your daily meditation practice. Ensure you pick a time where you won’t feel rushed or guilty to take 10 or 20 minutes to yourself to meditate. Technology is your friend here, have reminders that go off on your phone, set yourself as “do not disturb” on the chat or email apps you have, and create the conditions where you can relax enough to take time out of your day to make meditation a priority.
2. Use an app to keep your practice fresh
It’s important that if you’ve been meditating for a while, that you don’t just go through the motions when you meditate. It’s important to not get complacent with our practice, to constantly challenge ourselves to deepen our practice, and not allow a habit to turn into a dull routine.
Declutter The Mind is a guided meditation app that includes a Daily Meditation. This way, you receive a new guided practice every single day. This helps mix things up, keeps your practice fresh, and it’s much less distracting when you don’t hear the same repetitive practice over and over again, to the point where you memorized every step.
Many apps give you an overwhelming amount of choices when it comes to guided practices. With Declutter The Mind, the practice of the day is decided for you, making it easier to just sit and practice without becoming paralyzed by options.
Plus, it’ll teach you how to meditate and it offers courses to supplement your daily practice. Guided meditation is an excellent way to keep you accountable and make your practice a little more enjoyable. Trying to live a mindful life doesn’t need to be a solo journey. Whether it’s a renowned meditation teacher, or an online teacher, regular practice is a skill that takes practice.
3. Dedicate a space to your practice
Not having enough privacy in your daily practice is a form of resistance that can be difficult to overcome if you rarely have time or space to be alone. You may live in a small home with a big family, you may not have private meeting rooms at the office, or it may be difficult to arrange a space where you can be completely undisturbed for 10 minutes or longer.
So first, if you can’t dedicate a space to your practice where you can have privacy and be undisturbed, get creative. Your bathroom, your bathtub, or your parked car are places where you can practice in private. Dedicating a room in your home as a meditation room is a good idea, too. You can decorate it in a way that puts you in the mood to do your mindfulness practice, from a well placed meditation cushion to some photos and art.
Even if those aren’t options, don’t forget that you can also practice meditation with your eyes open. There’s nothing that says practicing mindfulness requires your eyes to be closed or for you to sit in a specific post in silence. You can be mindful of anything.
You can have a mindful walk down the street, you can mindfully eat, and you can practice mindfulness at your desk at work before you start your first task of the day.
4. Combine your practice with another habit or routine
An easy way to form a new habit, such as a daily meditation practice, is to pair it with an already formed daily habit. This way, this formed habit or daily routine that you already have, is a reminder to practice. It also makes it easier to stick to meditation since you’re already in “habit mode” when you’re doing the other thing.
For example, if you brush your teeth every night, practice meditation 10 minutes before brushing. This way, when night rolls around and the thought of brushing teeth pops into your mind, you’ll stop yourself and ensure you meditate before you brush your teeth.
It doesn’t need to be paired with brushing your teeth, either. It can be paired with any daily habit that you’re so used to, that you don’t think much about. You can meditate before having your lunch. Go to the gym? Meditate before your workout. About to turn on your favorite television show that comes on at 9? Meditate before watching.
There may be creative ways for you to pair or combine habits so it feels like your meditation routine is more integrated. For example, if you use the sauna regularly, meditate in the sauna. If you take baths, meditate while you bathe. If you go for walks after dinner, practice mindful walking. Use routines you’ve already built into your daily life and old habits to practice mindfulness meditation.
5. Use the resistance as part of the practice
All the forms of resistance we mentioned earlier all comes with emotions and feelings: Feeling rushed. The feeling of boredom and irritability. The guilt that comes with not feeling disciplined enough. Worrying about privacy or not being disturbed as you practice.
As you sit and practice mindfulness, use the resistance as part of the practice. Turn the resistance as the object of meditation. Become curious and interested in these feelings.
When you’re feeling rushed and are looking forward to the end of the practice, see if you can take a step back and just notice that feeling. Watch it.
When you’re beginning to feel bored and irritable as you sit, make that the object of the practice instead of the breath. Watch the boredom and become mindful of it. See where you notice it. Notice if it changes. Observe the thoughts and sensations around this feeling.
Meditation isn’t about having a “good practice.” If you feel as though lately you’ve been struggling or having low quality sessions, and it’s keeping you away from sticking to a daily meditation practice, understand that this is part of the practice. Drop the need for meditation to go a certain way and just be mindful every time you sit, no matter what happens or arises.
To really improve your daily meditation practice, consider using a mindfulness journal to track and monitor your meditation practice. It’ll give you an idea of where you’re progressing and where you’re struggling.
6. “Meditate anyway”
When everything else fails, my favorite 2 words to keep me motivated is “meditate anyway”. Stick these words on your wall. Make them the wallpaper to your phone or computer. Get them tattooed on you (kidding, don’t do that!). Do what you need to do to remind yourself of this.
Remember that most of the resistance you experience when it comes to your meditation practice goes away once you sit down to meditate. It’s kind of like going to the gym. Half the battle is just showing up.
What I love about “meditate anyway” is that it addresses all the forms of resistance we went through earlier. No time? Meditate anyway. Feeling bored? Meditate anyway. Feel embarrassed meditating at your desk at work? Meditate anyway.
Once you start, even if you tell yourself you’ll only meditate for 30 seconds, it’s hard to quit early once you start meditating. Take one breath, exhale slowly, ground yourself into the present moment, notice the immediate benefits, and see if the resistance is still there. As we mentioned earlier, bring the resistance into the practice. Meditation helps with discipline, procrastination, and the feelings that come around not wanting to meditate.
The great thing about “meditate anyway” is that it can help eliminate many of the excuses of not making it part of your daily routine. You don’t need to sit in a lotus position to meditate, stand or sit in anyway, all you need is a comfortable seat. You don’t need privacy for special breathing techniques, you can keep your eyes open and meditate anyway. All you need is a few moments to pay attention to your breath to make meditation something you do on a regular basis.
Start a daily meditation practice
Now that you know how to develop a daily meditation practice, the next step is to just show up. When you start doing that, the rest becomes much easier. Meet the most common objections we listed earlier with practical things you can do to start moving forward and practice regular meditation.