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Gentle Persistence, New Patterns & a Few Tips

After more than a week away from my regular routine, I was finally able to wake up at 5:00 am to sit for meditation before getting on with my day.  Breaking away from routines is nice periodically.  At times, it allows us to embrace something new and other times it allows us to see what we really cherish and miss.  For me, this break allowed me to spend time with my family and dear friends, but it also gave me the opportunity to know how important my meditation practice has become for me.  Today, my meditation practice is as equally a part of my morning as is brushing my teeth.  That is not to say that practice always leaves me feeling more settled; at times it is more of an unraveling of things that are being held.  Either way, much like brushing my teeth, I know it’s good for me.  When I take time to envelope myself and my experience in kind attention and care, that attitude and care will naturally carry forward into my day and my relationships more often than not.

If you feel that you are struggling to establish a meditation practice, I am here to tell you to not give up.  Gentle persistence is as essential as not being too harsh when you skip a day.  Through my own experience, I know that there are many obstacles along the way, but it’s often through the obstacles  that we find our way.  Rather than being road blocks, they are the exact things that we need to confront to feel more whole and free.  It’s through investigating our old patterns, that we can establish new ones.  It’s through examining the resistance to change that we begin to embrace it.  I am happy that meditation is part of my current pattern and I am pleased to be reminded that it is a pattern that is missed when I am away from it.  It has been an interesting journey to this point and one that will continue going forward.  I’ll leave you with a few tips that I have found useful along the way.

  1. Set an intention for your practice; however, as you begin, set the intention aside and remain open to the natural unfolding of your practice. Rather than striving, the essence of practice is in being.
  2. Begin with shorter sits so it does not feel overwhelming.  For example, commit to practicing six minutes a day for the next week.  Frequency is more important than duration.  Recommit at the end of the week.  Over time, extend the length of practice and commitments as it feels sustainable.
  3. Know your schedule.  Choose a consistent and wakeful time of day so that meditation can become a new part of your routine.  Set yourself up for success, not failure.  This said, know that meditation is accessible to you any time of the day.
  4. Make your commitment non-negotiable, but be kind to yourself if you skip a day.  Your practice is always waiting for you the next time.
  5. Set up a space in your home where you practice.  It does not have to be a separate space, nor does it have to be completely silent if that is not possible.  It can be a corner of a room.  You can  adorn the space with any symbols or ornaments that allow you to feel open, ready and inspired to practice.
  6. Be ready to meet obstacles along the way.  Obstacles are grist for the mill and the opportunity to learn and to grow.
  7. Let go of all of your expectations of how your practice should look or feel.  At times it may feel messy, other times it will feel steady and grounded.  We are creating a container to hold the vast array of experiences that will arise, with kindness and care.
4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thank you for this! I have owned my zafu cushion for 2 years, and meditated all of a half-dozen times on it, despite my intentions following a morning meditation series–Kelly at Dharma. Your words and recommendations have helped me set an alarm and get up before my own family, to start my own meditation ritual. It has been surprisingly simple and energizing; plus it gets me headed to bed a decent hour. Hope to join your upcoming Tues sub at Dharma; your other classes all conflict with my schedule. 🙂

    March 4, 2014
    • Hi Mindy, I am so glad you have some renewed energy for practice. It takes time to find a routine that works. I look forward to meeting you soon at Dharma 🙂

      March 4, 2014
  2. Manju Jhawar #

    Thanks Sheils for all the tips. They are so helpful. I liked all your meditation series. They are so inspiring.

    March 13, 2014

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