A scientifically-backed way of incorporating ancient contemplative methods into your daily life for your well-being.
Years ago I read a book by Charles Duhigg called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Years later I am able to remember one or two key ideas from this book, which means it resonated and I’d love to share them with you.
I remember the author talking about keystone habits. Keystone habits are the routines and practices by which someone operates. They mark the base level of what you do without any need for willpower or persuasion. For example, brushing your teeth. If you’re one to make your bed every morning that is also considered a keystone habit. At the time, I was attempting really hard to make meditation practice a keystone habit and even though it has not solidified in a practice as consistent as brushing my teeth, it comes quite close. Taking the pressure off and having fun with it is key. When joy is lost, the habit is lost.
Meditation has changed the quality of my life immensely and the minute this practice falters, I know to pay attention to the underlying stressors and anxieties which may be rising. I ask myself the following questions:
1. What is it in my personal or professional life that is giving me the sense of not having control?
2. Am I sleeping and resting adequately?
3. What remains undone and needs my attention?
Setting up a habit of meditation that is joyful and you may look forward to it without much self-persuasion mustn’t be stressful. A foundation is great and joining a meditation group or booking a private session may be helpful to get you started. At Pür Joy Yoga, we’d love to spend some time with you going over some personal goals and establishing a routine that would be sustainable and realistic.
Here are some fundamental things I recommend for beginner students when they attend their finest session before we practice technique.
1. Choose a time of day and stick to it.
2. Pick a comfortable space in your house or workplace that you may practice uninterrupted
3. Make this space comfortable so you may sit on a cushion or bolster comfortably. Laying down is also a great option. If you’d like to purchase an awesome sit set, Pür Joy Yoga, offers the Natural Linen Sit Set by Halfmoon Yoga.
4. Start Small. I’d say sit or lay down for 3-5 minutes with the intention of following breath.
5. Use an app like Insight Timer to track your time and softly take you out of meditation with a gentle bell sound.
6. Repeat this as many times a week as it seems joyful and realistic.
Intentionally giving yourself this time to pause will ripple into the fabric of your personal and professional life in no time. You will notice a general upswing of feeling good and pleasant. Many clients report heightened sensory awareness, patience, and compassion after only practicing in our four-week sessions. Some report only doing 3 days a week of home practice, which I’d say is a great start. I have been personally practicing since 2016 when I studied Buddhist meditation techniques in Nepal at a 30-day silent retreat and have found where I need to be compassionate with myself and give myself a break when I need it. At this moment, my app has tracked about 41,000 minutes of meditation which doesn’t even include all the training and certifications I’ve done. So, here are only some of the benefits I have found after developing a consistent and sustainable meditation home practice.
Heightened sense of contentment and happiness
There have been many scientific studies on the neurological effects of meditation practice. Buddhism supports the “cultivation of happiness, genuine inner transformation, deliberately selecting and focusing on positive mental states” (Lama and Cutler, 2008). Although these ancient contemplative methods have been going on for centuries, it is through modern science where we have measured in consciousness research that people who meditate report psychological well-being in terms of life satisfaction, self-awareness, and emotional regulation. Although happiness is subjective, I could very well report that my general outlook on life has dramatically improved. Especially during difficult times, the lessons that I draw from a seated practice really help me navigate life.
Better focus, energy & productivity
In this day and age where technology and social media consumption is continues to reduce our attention span, meditation may very well reverse some of the symptoms that come along with our fast click culture. I have found that I am more focused and productive the mornings that I meditate. I am able to complete tasks that I often dread without much complaining or dread. This has been so valuable especially as I set new projects and goals.
Increased Compassion and More Patience
My favorite type of meditation is loving-kindness meditation—metta. Learning to be patient and compassionate with myself, especially during moments where I feel that I have wronged or been wronged continues to help me shake off the momentary guilt and self-judgment. Festering in these negative thoughts is unhelpful and can be debilitating. To have a self-compassion practice means that the amount of time I’d spend circulating with cyclical thoughts that are unhelpful, I am instead able to tap into forgiving myself or giving myself a break. This by far is my most effective and beneficial side effect of consistent practice.
Of course, there have been weeks on end where I have been unable to practice, but like with all habits, it is about returning to them that solidifies them. Come back to it without judgment and start over, because no effort has gone wasted. Not taking it too seriously and bringing in a level of ease and play will only make this process of habit-forming more enjoyable.
So where should you begin? Perhaps that can be a follow-up post. Till then, if you are in the LA area and you’d like to check out a group meditation event or class, check out the session offerings at Pür Joy Yoga. Would love to see you in person soon.