Meditation: A Habit Worth Cultivating

Anjali mudra pose- practicing meditation, photo by Michael Keany

My alarm goes off. It’s 4:45am. I have a choice and a short amount of time in which to make it before habit or my thoughts take over. My heart may say “meditate”, but is my mind in agreement this morning? There is approximately 1 in 3 chances that my body makes it to my meditation pillow.  The options that run through my mind are as follows…..

a) “Absolutely!” I then commence to lighting a candle, setting up my station and starting the timer. Huge win for the morning.

b) “Eh, I’m pretty tired.” Coffee sounds better than sitting down and potentially falling back to sleep in the upright position.

c) “Nope, not even close to happening”. And then there’s the rare occasion where I actually go back to sleep until 6:30am or so and just tell myself that I needed the extra rest that day.

By nature + habit, I’m an early riser. Morning has always been my favorite part of the day and I don’t typically find it difficult to wake up Monday- Friday at 5am. J and I have a little rhythm that I delight in, a routine that I look forward to waking up to when my head hits the pillow every night. 5-6am is reserved for coffee, journaling and reading.  6-7am is movement- swim / yoga / or run.  7-7:45am get ready for work and then we’re both usually out the door.

Trying to fit meditation into this schedule, I often feel the need to sacrifice one of the things I’m in the happy habit of doing, OR commit to waking up before 5 every morning. I said I’m an early riser, but I would rather not be awake in the 4am range. So more often than not, the sacrifice is my meditation.  I’ve had a few rare days that I decide not to exercise/ stay home and find I’m really challenged by it- which makes me think I probably need to do it more often.

It’s easy to pick the physical practice. My body finds joy in movement and the days that I do get up and sweat I find that I am more focused, calm and confident during the day.

But I have to admit that I feel similar feelings when I commit to working on my mental practice.

Mental practice meaning focusing on my breath, expanding mindfulness, seeing with a clearer and higher perspective, working through my own thoughts of limiting belief and connecting with a greater power.

The same thoughts appear every time after I’m finished, “why don’t I do this more often?!” The statistics and studies are all out there on the interweb that remind us that meditation decreases stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc but it’s a practice that you can’t just take others words for. If you’re new to meditation I suggest doing some research and looking for a teacher or class in your community.

There are many different techniques and styles so you’ll want to find an approach that speaks to you and will help establish a base. I found it incredibly beneficial to have a teacher, and was lucky that MY teacher’s teacher (Paul Muller-Ortega from Blue Throat Yoga)  came to Oahu while I was living there to do a Meditation Initiation. Even when I fall off my practice, I feel solid enough in my foundation that I know my mind will get back into the rhythm when I decide to sit on my pillow.

Do you have a meditation practice? Or kinda-sorta have one but find it challenging to dedicate time to it? Please tell me I’m not alone. 😉 Share your challenges, struggles or pointers with me in the comments below?

9 Comments

  1. Kate
    July 19, 2016 / 5:14 am

    Struggling with my practice for sure. I generally rise by 6am + hit the studio by 7. If I can drag myself out of bed by 530, it’s on. Unfortunately, I often find an excuse to skip my practice and snooze until 6. :/

    • Leslie
      July 19, 2016 / 5:12 pm

      Have you read “The Power of Habit”? (https://www.amazon.com/Power-Habit-What-Life-Business/dp/081298160X) It was fascinating to read about how our routines and behaviors play a major role in our lives and steps we can take to create and control them. The scientific explanation + practical advice helped put my own habits into perspective. A recommended read for sure!

  2. July 19, 2016 / 12:46 pm

    I wish I was a morning person. I guess compared to most people I am. I’m always up by 7am on weekends and 6am on work days. The problem is the mornings are always my low point, energy-wise and mood wise. It is hard to feel motivated that early. I do feel better when I do a little yoga or strength training in the morning. It just so hard to get into the habit!

    • Leslie
      July 19, 2016 / 5:17 pm

      I would definitely consider you a morning person Elizabeth! Sounds like it just takes you a bit longer to become fully awake. I think half my motivation is that I have an accountability buddy. 80% of the time I am working out with someone and that is a huge help! Do you have anyone that would want to start doing yoga or strength training with you? Something else that helps my mood in the mornings (because sometimes I wake up and don’t feel like getting out of bed at all) is writing down 5 , really specific, things I am grateful for. It quickly changes my mental focus from resistance to gratitude and acknowledgment of all that is good. 🙂

  3. July 19, 2016 / 4:00 pm

    I meditate for 15-20 minutes every morning, and journal in my Five Minute Journal (the key being that it only takes 5 minutes), but your morning routine puts mine to shame! I would love to add morning exercise into my routine. I’ve been doing my workouts around lunchtime, but I think that movement in the morning is so important and really helps set you up for a great day.

    • Leslie
      July 19, 2016 / 5:20 pm

      Melinda that’s an amazing morning routine. Is your five minute journaling free flowing? I’m happy if I get my sweat on at least once during the day but have found that mornings really help invigorate me for the day. Some days I think I should try doing something at lunch though to battle the mid afternoon crash. 3pm is not the best time of day for me. 😛

  4. July 22, 2016 / 5:07 pm

    I tried to get into meditation a month or so ago but then three days in the other thoughts in my head would win, “I’m tired. I’ll just go to sleep and do it tomorrow.” But someone told me about an app called HeadSpace that will coach you through meditation if you want to turn that feature on. With the app, I’m going to try meditation again and try harder to stick to it!

    • Leslie
      July 25, 2016 / 8:32 pm

      I will have to check out that app- what a cool idea! Let me know how your practice is coming along. It’s own of the more challenging habits I’ve had to create, but the benefits are priceless!

  5. Duke
    December 13, 2016 / 12:44 am

    2 tips – 1. Check out free app called insight timer⛩. 2. Read Hal Elrod’s book “the miracle morning”.

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