health · meditation

Meditate on this – Christine decides on a slow build to a new habit

This isn’t going to be a post about how I fight my brain in order to meditate. 

A large maple tree branch full of leaves against a blue sky with a few clouds in it.
This is the view from my hammock in my yard, it gives my brain the same kind of feeling that meditation does.

 

In fact, I really like meditating and once I sit down, I enjoy the process of bringing myself back to my breath over and over. I like the IDEA of it, and I like the practice.

 

Yet, I don’t meditate regularly.

 

It’s not that I don’t want to meditate, I just have trouble *starting* to meditate. 

 

Changing activities is a real challenge for me.  Even if I want to do the next thing, my brain hates to let go of the thing that I am already doing and transition into the next one.

 

So, I have to use some tricks to make that happen.

 

Through trial and error, over time, I have discovered that I can get over the transition barrier (that trouble switching tasks) by identifying how long it takes me to start to enjoy something once I switch into that activity.

 

Writing, for example, takes 5 minutes to become fun. No matter how much I don’t feel like writing in a given moment, if I spend 5 minutes at it, I stop fighting myself. Then I start to find the fun it, it starts to become rewarding.

 

With exercise, it usually takes 10 minutes before I stop fighting myself, before I can quiet the inner temptation to do something else – anything else. Once I hit that 10 minute mark, I am in the groove and I have fun.

 

So, I don’t let those initial feelings of discontent convince me to switch activities in that ‘warm-up’ time and as a result I spent my time in an intentional, purposeful way.

 

Oddly though, despite my desire to meditate, I haven’t applied that ‘warm-up’ approach to meditation.

The author, a white woman in her mid-forties, with light brown hair, wearing a black shirt, lies on a green mat. Her eyes are closed.
I’m not actually meditating here, obviously (how would I get a photo of that?), this was part of a photo project. Let’s pretend it is a meditation simulation.

 

It’s on my mental list of enjoyable things to do in a given day, but it rarely makes it into practice.

A screen capture of the timer screen of the Insight Timer meditation app. The words 'Starting Bell' are at the top, and a bowl is depicted below with the word 'Basu' on it. Below the bowl are four oblong shapes indicating the duration of the timer (Meditation 3 minutes), the interval bells (none), the ambient sound (none), and the ending bell (Basu is listed again). The word Start is in a white circle at the bottom of the screen.
My timer screen for week 1. One of the things I like about Insight Timer is how peaceful all of the sounds are.

It’s time to change that.

 

In July, I am going to incorporate a short meditation practice into my day, lying on my yoga mat, using my ‘Insight Timer’ app to time myself and to journal about the experience.

 

In week 1, I’ll do 3 minutes, twice a day and if that is successful, I’ll increase in two minute increments each week.

 

I know those are very small goals but want to find that ‘warm-up’ point, and I want to keep the bar low. I’m not trying to do a great practice, nor a deep one, I’m aiming for a consistent one.

 

I’ll report back after week 1.

A screen capture of a phone app featuring a black screen with the word Journal at the top middle and the words 'Write your journal note here...' underneath it.
This is the journal page of my app. I like how plain it is.

5 thoughts on “Meditate on this – Christine decides on a slow build to a new habit

  1. Thanks for sharing your insights, Christine. I really like the idea of reminding ourselves how long it takes for some activity to become fun (or at least engrossing enough to keep doing it). For me, cycling really takes about 30 minutes to become fun if I’m doing an active road ride. But I hadn’t thought about other activities and their activation requirements– thanks for that. By the way, doing ANYTHING twice a day seems hard to me, even if it’s only for a few minutes, so I hope you’ll be easy on yourself. I’ll look forward to reading about what you learn in the process.

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    1. Thanks, Catherine. 🙂 I’m glad to know that it takes others a while to start enjoying their activities, too.

      I am being very easy on myself about this process – twice a day is a challenge but it felt ‘right’ so I went with it.

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  2. Very interesting! Can’t wait to see what you find. I have a similar problem with yoga–I love doing it, and know how good it makes me feel, yet don’t do it very often, I think because of the issue of switching activities.

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    1. Thanks for reading. 🙂

      I think task-switching is one of the hardest things for us when we’re busy. I have all kinds of tricks to help me and I still struggle.

      I hope you find a way to get your yoga into your schedule – just for your own enjoyment.

      PS – I posted an update on week one of meditation as of yesterday.

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  3. Thanks for this. It’s so good to see someone else introducing a meditation practice. I’m sorry I didn’t comment sooner because I too have been inspired, in part by your post, to get back to meditation. I use the InsightTimer app and it tells me how many consecutive days I’ve meditated. As of today: six! Om.

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