Trouble keeping yourself on track with meditation? You’re not alone. This obstacle is the main reason beginners should set a consistent routine for meditation practice—so it becomes part of your every day, and you don’t have to think about and decide to do it.
Making important things habitual is the best way to ensure you keep them in your day-to-day life. But it’s still tough in the beginning. Once you create that habit, you’ll notice the benefits—and that will be enough motivation to keep you on-track. But before you notice the benefits, how are you supposed to create the discipline?
If you’ve already tried all the tricks on how to squeeze meditation into your day and how to find the time to meditate, and you still find yourself lacking self-discipline, it’s time to seek out further support. I recommend one of four things:
Find a Meditation Teacher or Coach
Some people swear by meditation teachers, insisting there is no other way to learn to meditate, while others say they are totally unnecessary. My belief is that everyone learns in different ways and has different needs, so you need to discover for yourself.
I do think that if self-discipline is an issue for you, meditation teachers can be a great way to learn the basics and get you on a regular routine. Many teachers will not just teach you the basics, but also recommend a schedule based on your life, and be there to support you and answer questions as you start your practice. Some will even regularly check in to make sure you “did your homework.” Your personality may find that incredibly annoying … OR it may be just the thing you need to get on track.
Find a Meditation Class
Check out a local yoga studio or meditation center to see if there are any classes you can start attending. Even a once-a-week Tuesday night class will get you to a place where you’ll feel called to meditate more regularly between classes.
The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is offered around the world at universities and health clinics. I took the eight-week program at University of California, San Diego Center for Mindfulness and loved it.
If attending a live class isn’t feasible for you, try an online class. I recommend Giovanni Dienstmann’s 5-week meditation course for beginners, called Master Your Mind.
Find a Meditation Group
Try searching for a free meditation or Meetup group near you to meet like-minded people who get together to practice; groups can help keep you motivated. Another big benefit of practicing and learning in a group setting, is that people will share issues they are having that you may not have experienced yet. By discussing those issues and learning about the solutions ahead of time, you’re more prepared to deal with the same issues when you eventually encounter them in your own practice.
Find a Meditation Partner
Even if your partner is as clueless about meditation as you are (or even more so), the purpose of a meditation partner is really to hold you accountable. If it’s your spouse or roommate, see if you can find a time that works for you both and agree to motivate one another when discipline or enthusiasm on either side wanes.
You can also find a meditation partner to text with on a daily basis. This isn’t meant to be a chore or an added to-do to your day, but rather a means of motivation. Text one another a simple note, like “15-minute meditation” indicating the length of your practice for the day. You can create your own policies around responding, either including a response to add encouragement or keeping it more hands-off and just having the mutual understanding that there is someone out there who knows you meditated today (or didn’t.) Either way, it works. I know people who have kept this up for years.
Sometimes just having someone to meet at a specific time, or report to, is all you need to show up and practice.
*This post was adapted from the book, The Type A’s Guide to Mindfulness: Meditation for Busy Minds and Busy People.