“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Will Durant
It’s that time of year when most of us set goals to change a habit or start a new one – whether it’s to eat better, go to the gym or to start a meditation practice. However, even with the best of intentions, 80% of new years resolutions fail by the second week of February!
In order to create a habit, it helps to understand what makes something a habit. According to a number of psychological behavioural studies, all habits follow the same 3-step pattern.
3-step pattern of creating a meditation habit
1. Trigger – The trigger that starts the habit.
This should be the first thing you do when creating a new habit. Use an action that you already do on a daily basis – for example, such as brushing your teeth. If your goal is to do 5 minutes of meditation every morning, your trigger could be brushing your teeth. This functions as a reminder for you to start your f meditation right after.
2. Routine – The action you take; the habit itself.
For this, it is good to start as small as you can and build up; for example, if your goal is to meditate every day, start with 2 minutes every morning and steadily increase the time frame over time. This will make it easier to include this new action into your regular routine.
3. Reward – The benefit you gain from doing the behaviour.
Some actions will come with their own rewards, whether that is a healthier body, mind or even wallet – but it is very important that we reward ourselves each time we carry out the new action as this keeps us doing things that make us feel good. So give yourself some credit and enjoy the success! For example, you could treat yourself to a massage if you’ve practiced meditation daily for a month.
4 tips for keeping the meditation habit
Creating new habits in our lives doesn’t come down to willpower alone; we will find it more beneficial if we plan and use strategies and patience to get us to where we want to be. So when coming up with your new goals this year, here are some tips to help you attain them:
- Be Patient
Accept that some days you will get further than others, and some days you will be more motivated than other days. This is especially true of meditation, where we can feel different every day, even every hour. What we find when we look internally will change depending on our mood, thoughts, and an array of things. Try not to be too harsh on yourself….it takes time to make a lasting habit, so it’s important to accept that a new habit can’t be created overnight.
- Stay accountable
By telling family/friends what you are trying to achieve, they can check in with you to help you stick to your goal – we are more likely to stick to a resolution if we also have support from other people.
We are always hearing people using time as a reason they were not able to achieve something; but as Benjamin Franklin said, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. Setting aside time for your new meditation practice around your current lifestyle is essential to make it sustainable.
- and finally, if at first, you don’t succeed…
Try again. We can guarantee there will be days when you feel a million miles away from your goal, frustrated and about to give up…but the difference between people who fail and those who succeed are those who keep on trying.