How to make Meditation & Mindfulness a Habit
(Full lecture given by Dhyanse at a corporate event with 250+ participants in Basel, Switzerland, June 2017).
Meditation & Mindfulness is becoming a mainstream essential in our lifestyle for various reasons. However most of us struggle with making a habit out it. Recently I gave a lecture on this topic at a corporate event in Basel, where I shared 10 points helpful in creating a sustainable habit. Here is a summary:
1) Know your reason for meditation
Apart from numerous scientific studies done on the mental health benefits of meditation, we may also acknowledge that only human consciousness has the ability to reflect on itself, which opens up a spectrum of growth possibilities for human consciousness to know both the microcosm – Who am i? to the macrocosm – what is this universe with all the stars, planets, life forms etc? Meditation can become that gateway of an inner exploration with multi-dimensional possibilities. If that is not your thing…
It might also be worthwhile to consider meditation as the fourth state of normal human consciousness apart from the “Waking”, “Dreaming” and “Deep Sleep” states which are characterised by various levels of awareness and mental activity. By introducing meditation in your daily routines, you learn to reduce your mental activity and increase awareness which positively impacts the other three states. Resulting in a more mindful waking state, steady deep-sleep and reduced dreaming.
2) We are driven by the perceived outcome…
Physical workouts such as training in the gym or practising yoga postures offer clear, visible and desired outcomes. You are motivated throughout the journey because you know where it is leading to. However it is not the same for meditation. As long as your goal with meditation is merely relaxation, the outcomes are somewhat measurable and within reach of our imagination. But the moment we go beyond it, into a more meaningful and deeper context of exploring ourselves, things become fuzzy. Without clear outcomes and coming across bad examples of people getting pulled into a cult, religion or any other belief system, we tend to remain negativity and defensive. And the funny part is that the deeper you go into meditation, you drift away from all perceived outcomes possible to your imagination and move closer to who you are really are…surprise surprise!
3) Is your meditation technique fitting to you?
In order to correctly learn meditation, you need a technique that maps your lifestyle, psychological construct and ability of your mind to easily move into one or more of the following: concentration/imagination/observation/feeling.
Meditators often get prescribed one-fit-for-all techniques such as focusing on the breath which might or might not be best for you. I have spent enough years in going through different techniques across wisdom traditions and have crystallised 30 most essential techniques. If you are an independent meditator, you may try out these within Meditation Easy App or on my website. The key to remember here is that any authentic meditation technique has an in-built process to take you into a journey from relaxation to mindfulness to meditation. Moreover, all techniques are used only for a certain period of time and after regular practice, the meditator should be able to move into meditation without using any techniques.
4) Is there an ideal time for meditation?
Although meditation can be done at any time, yogic mapping of human energetics suggests that the optimal times are dawn and dusk. Without doing a deep-dive into this yogic logic, it may be interesting as a side note that at dawn/dusk, the central energy channel called Sushumna becomes active more easily along with the Ida (left side) and Pingala (right side) channels, resulting in a deep sense of centeredness, awareness and inner harmony.
5) Create space for meditation/mindfulness practice.
It indeed is very helpful to have a dedicated and personalised space for a regular practice. Keep it empty or add minimalistic art work, light up incense sticks or whatever it takes for you to create an inviting ambience.
6) There are no quick fixes.
How much time daily do you need to commit for meditation? Let me try to give you a straight answer. 5-10 minutes of a quick fix will not bring much. It may indeed give you a small refreshing pause, just like listening to a 3-minute classical song would do, but thats not meditation.
Even after regular practice of several months, it takes on an avg. 15-20 minutes to reduce the mental activity and maintain a certain level of awareness. To actually call what you experience as meditation, you may have to stretch a bit more until your mental activity is almost negligible and awareness is steadily high.
7) Manage your expectations
Let’s say you experience deep silence and profound realisations in today`s meditation session. Chances are that when you will sit again tomorrow for it, you will try to expect a similar experience again. That exact expectation will become a barrier and you might come out of it with disappointment. Amongst other things, to sit in meditation with openness to allow the present moment unfold what it contains, is one secret to success in meditation.
8) Use technology, don’t get used by it.
There is a fine line between using technology and getting used by it. With an incredible push from the technology industry to keep us engaged into this or that, we forget to keep a check on the amount and type of impressions we consume everyday. For example, unless we learn to regulate how much time we put into social media, no mindfulness or meditation practice can help. On the other hand, if you wisely utilise technology, it is indeed enhancing the experience of life. You may use an app to learn meditation! App stores are filled with more than 3000 apps related to mindfulness and meditation. Two things to consider while choosing the right app: Firstly, evaluate if the guided meditations that are offered within apps are based on an authentic technique or are just what I would like to call ‘Pleasant Gibberish’. Secondly, make sure that the app is not designed to make you dependent on it but rather to learn with it and even leave it after a certain learning phase.
9) Don’t hesitate to take guidance
Along with the practice of meditation, come hundreds of questions related to the practice and your inner development. I encourage you to taste the waters from different sources to gain new insights – pick up a good book which can keep you inspired as well as provide clarity on your journey. Amongst other options, you might want to check out ’10 Bulls of Meditation‘ which is an elaboration of a meditators journey through 10 stages of meditation, a guidebook for independent meditators and mindfulness practitioners.
10) The art of Meditation is a knack, not a science.
I invite you to watch the lecture especially for this point. It is best conveyed indirectly with an ancient story of a thief from India.
All the best,