Meditation: 5 Key Factors That Helped Me Greatly
This isn’t a ‘how to’ meditate guide. Below I’ve listed five key areas that got me meditating on a regular basis. For many, many years, I always struggled with meditation. But with baby steps, patience and practice, it became a habit. It’s now a big part of my life and I’m forever grateful I took the time to incorporate it into my daily routine. I hope you find these points helpful :)
1. Find A Big Enough ‘WHY’
I know this sounds a bit cryptic, but until I had a big enough reason ‘WHY’ I should make meditation a daily habit, I always struggled to commit. The problem with meditation is that there's no instant gratification. And if it ain’t instant, it easily sits with the ‘I’ll do it tomorrow instead’ crowd.
So how did I make my ‘WHY’ big enough to make meditating a daily practice once and for all?
I flipped my perspective on meditation. I heard countless times of super-successful people acknowledging meditation as a key component to their success. Do I want my company, ‘180 Nutrition’, to be as successful as it can be? My relationships? My health? Of course! Instead of telling myself ‘how hard’ it is or ‘is it really worth it?’, I started telling myself, "What if I don’t do it? Could I be holding myself back?".
I then submersed myself in education and started listening to podcasts and reading up on all sorts of benefits as to why we should meditate. From professional athletes visualizing their success before they had won, to ex-Navy Seals having a zen-like approach to life. I began to get pumped! All of a sudden I felt like I was missing out. It became more painful to me if didn’t start to meditate, than to actually give it a go for a week. Some standout books that helped my cause and which I can highly recommend are Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza and Into the Magic Shop by Dr. James Doty
Light Bulb Moment #1 I Flipped My Perspective
2. Form The Habit First
Uh? How can this make sense? Well, hear me out. One of the best things I could have done to make my meditation practice consistent was become an expert at meditation for 1-2 minutes every morning.
I was attempting one off guru-like 20 minute sessions where my thoughts ran off in all directions like wild stallions. This got me frustrated really quickly and I would throw it in the ‘all too hard’ basket and give up. I lost all morale very quickly and it would be weeks before I would attempt it again. Then, one day, a very passionate meditator named Jon Gabriel told me; “Guy, stop trying to meditate like a Buddhist monk and start with 1-2 minutes a day. Just sit there in silence and focus on your breathing”.
That’s it? Yep, and it was gold! I had instantly removed all pressure from myself. I committed to every day indefinitely for 2 minutes (I even set a timer). If I couldn’t commit to this, then clearly my ‘Why’ wasn’t big enough. This formed the habit for me and after several months, I slowly expanded the time that I sat there for my meditation.
Light Bulb Moment #2 Habits come first, outcomes come later.
3. Be Organized
When meditation is a ‘should’ and not a ‘MUST’ in your life, I realized it was very easy to find reasons not to meditate when I first got up in the morning.
In the beginning, I started meditating on the edge of my bed, but it was waaaay too easy to lay back down and catch a few extra minutes sleep. Then my next bright idea was to meditate in the living room. So when I got up I’d fumble around in the dark for my warm clothes, which I couldn’t find, then I’d sit on the end of the couch, but it was too low (I’m tall) and I was uncomfy, then I wasn’t warm enough, then the airplanes flying over would distract me, and on and on and on this went… I was great at finding many reasons not to meditate and put it off until the next day.
I was amazed at how much these small barriers affected me first thing in the morning. Determined to turn my 2 minute practice into a 5 minute practice, I started to look at my barriers and figure out simple solutions and prepare them the night before. From having an elevated chair ready to go in the morning with a blanket on it, to folding my sweat pants a certain way so I didn’t have to think when I put them on in the morning, I started to get prepared. In a strange way, preparing the night before with meticulous precision made it feel like a ritual and got me excited as I felt much more in control and ready for the morning meditation.
Light Bulb Moment #3 Being organized removes all barriers and excuses
4. Set A Challenge
For me, personally, this is one of the most powerful things I can do for myself to turn up the dial up on the motivation factor. Make a commitment with a deadline that’s hard to back out of. So how did I bring that into my meditation routine? Great question!
Last year, we had neuroscientist Dr. Joe Dispenza on our podcast and he blew our minds with what he had to say. So, a few weeks later, I booked in to do his 2-day progressive workshop. Needless to say, this was incredible and I was hungry for more. But some of Joe’s meditations are anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour! How am I going to fit that into my busy day? I was torn between this new commitment (as I wanted to feel the benefits) or coming up with a few excuses to put it off.
I brewed on it for a few days, then I decided to book myself into his advanced 5-day workshop in Mexico, which was 3 months away (deadline). They were flying in scientists to measure the effects on the brain and the body for a study, and I didn’t want to miss out. But the thought of meditating from 1-4 hours in this study made me feel REALLY uncomfortable, as I couldn’t sit still for 20 minutes!
I booked the ticket and I was committed - with 3 months and counting. Things got serious, and psychologically there was shift. I turned a ‘maybe’ into a ‘must’ and it gave me the motivation I needed to commit every morning.
Light Bulb Moment #4 Stretch your comfort zone and set yourself a challenge.
5. Detach From Outcome
I know this sounds a bit ‘Yoda’, but trust me on this one, as it’s probably the most powerful thing you can do for your meditation practice. When I started my daily meditation practice, I was constantly analyzing everything I was doing. Am I doing this right? What’s the end goal? Why do I have stressful days still? Get the picture?
It wasn’t until I ‘let go’ and changed my attitude around that the magic started to happen. I compared it to when I first joined a gym many years ago. My only motivation at the time was I wanted to build lean muscle and drop body fat so I looked good with my top off! I was constantly pushing myself to train harder and checking every day to see if my body had changed at all. In time, this phase passed and I was enjoying how much my body felt physically and mentally. My fixation on my body image results drifted away and I was simply enjoying the habits of exercising regularly and didn’t think about it too much. Then, one day a few months later, I realized that my body shape had changed. Bonus!
To this day, exercise is simply a good habit that I enjoy and I don’t worry at all about the outcome. Meditation for me needed to have the same attitude, and the moment I stopped fixating on the outcome, I truly started to enjoy the process and feel the benefits.
Light Bulb Moment #5 Enjoy the process, don’t fixate on the result.
I honestly don’t think there’s a right way to go about meditation, except what works for you. Go easy on yourself and do what feels right. Reaping the benefits of meditation is certainly a long-term approach, and there are no short cuts. But if you persevere, I promise you the rewards are priceless.
If you want to explore these 5 key factors more, I recorded them in more depth on our podcast.