It turns out that scheduling meditation in our day can be one of the harder aspects of a meditation practice. Life is so busy. There’s much to do and there are so many possibilities of things to do. It can be really hard to stop in the middle of the activity of the day and dedicate a period of time to stillness, quietness, self-compassion, contemplation, and spirituality.
Even knowing how nurturing meditation can be doesn’t seem to make it easier to set time aside. It’s partly to do with the addictive quality of some of the other things that we do. It’s also easy to stay on autopilot to move from one activity to the next in our daily life. Our brains are wired to look for new things, to look for novelty, to get things done, to achieve, succeed, be social and respond to threat. Our brain does all of these things naturally.
We need to bring in a little bit of discipline, love, and fierce compassion for ourselves when we’re starting a meditation practice.
Our brain doesn’t tend to naturally want to sit still and do nothing. That’s not really a natural state. It can, however, become a natural state and it can feel like a natural state when we’ve done it for a while. When we’re not accustomed to meditation it can feel very foreign and our brain doesn’t want to cooperate; it doesn’t naturally go to, “Yes, that’s the next thing I want to do: meditate!”
We need to bring in a little bit of discipline, love, and fierce compassion for ourselves when we’re starting a meditation practice. The ritual of journaling or having a sacred space to meditate in can be a nice way to remind ourself of our determination to practice. Another tool is to bring our willingness to offer time for ourself, to our practice. Finding time in the day is a very personal exercise.
The key is to find whatever works for you. If you keep a to-do list and it works for you to record meditation on your list, then do that. Putting it in your calendar might be a way to remind yourself to practice, especially if you need to practice at different times in the day because of your schedule. If you don’t have a regular time available for practice, scheduling practice into your calendar is a really nice way to remind yourself, and to make a little promise to yourself, a little vow that you will meditate at the time that you say you will on your calendar. If having meditation on your to-do list feels oppressive – if you resent the fact that it’s there – then don’t use that method.
I don’t want to clean the toilet, but I don’t want to do my taxes even more, so cleaning the toilet seems more manageable and I take the time out to do that.
Perhaps you don’t schedule meditation at all. If you’re accustomed to an organic flow in your day, especially if you work from home, slot it into your day at a time that works for you. Make a promise to yourself that you’ll do it at some point in the day and then when the moment comes, when meditation is the next thing that you naturally want to do, then do it. It can be a nice, organic way to fit meditation into your day. We can also co-opt the mind’s tendency to procrastinate on other tasks we don’t want to do by choosing to slot 20 minutes of meditation in as the “less avoided” task. Have you had that experience? I don’t want to clean the toilet, but I don’t want to do my taxes even more, so cleaning the toilet seems more manageable and I take the time out to do that. If you don’t want to meditate, maybe it pales in comparison to something like calculating your monthly expense report or answering that email by that difficult client – use that as a time to choose to meditate.
Having said that, there are always “outs.” Something always comes up, so determine to include rescheduling into your practice and your vow for yourself. If you miss a meditation practice on a particular day, it’s not a problem. You can try again tomorrow. Please don’t beat yourself up if you don’t find yourself meditating on one particular day. If your meditation practice is challenging for you, see if you can do something different that makes it less challenging, more easeful and delightful. Can you do a short meditation? Just five minutes, three minutes, one minute a day? Offering yourself one minute of meditation a day is enough. Maybe once you’ve been doing one minute a day for awhile, you’ll think, “I’d like to try a little bit more. I might try two minutes today.” The idea is to feel your way through and to want to meditate. It might not always happen that we want to meditate, but ideally we’ll get to a place where we look forward to our meditation because we know how good it feels. We know how it affects the rest of our day in a positive way and we enjoy keeping our own company in a ritual practice that is just for us. We enjoy taking care of our self. I hope you’re there and if you aren’t, I hope you get to that place of enjoying taking care of yourself, in your own good time!