The Meditation Habit: Where to Go Next
Post written by Leo Babauta.
After a month of learning about the habit of meditation, you might feel like there’s still a lot to learn about meditation. And you’re right — we’ve just taken the first steps.
Our focus for this month has been to learn how to create a simple meditation habit — and if you’ve been following along, you should be well along the way. If for some reason you didn’t start, or you had to stop, don’t worry — you can always do it next month, or anytime after. Some advice for those of you in this boat is below.
While we’ve learned more about the habit than actual meditation, if you’re interested in learning more about meditation, some advice also follows.
If You Didn’t Create the Habit
Some of you never got around to starting the habit. If that’s because you’ve been busy this month, that’s OK — when you find a time that is less busy, feel free to start then. If you didn’t start for other reasons — you’re intimidated by starting the habit for example — think about what those reasons are, and see if you can start with just 1 minute a day.
Some of you started but stopped for various reasons. Don’t worry about not succeeding — that’s in the past, and feeling bad about it isn’t useful. This guilt actually needlessly stops a lot of people from starting again. The most important thing is that you start again — you can’t create a habit unless you do it, and starting should be made as easy as possible. Again, just 1-2 minutes a day. Figure out what your obstacle was last time, and see if you can think of a good solution.
Start. It’s not hard, and it’s crucial to habit creation. Learn to get good at it!
If You Want to Continue Learning
If you’ve established a decent meditation habit, I would encourage you to continue it daily. I’ve extended the Meditation Habit Tracker through March, so you can continue your tracking as a group if you like. The longer you do the habit regularly, the stronger it will be.
And the longer you do the habit, the more you’ll learn about it, and yourself.
Some other things to do if you’d like to continue learning:
- Read more. I’ve compiled a list of books below if you’d like to learn more.
- Join a meditation class. Many areas have paid meditation teachers/classes, or even a Zen Center where you can meditate with a group for perhaps the cost of a donation. Learning from a live teacher is often very useful. Consider the Open Heart Project by Susan Piver.
- Listen to guided meditation podcasts. UCLA, for example, has some great free guided meditation MP3’s on iTunes (thanks to Scott Dinsmore for the heads up).
- Extend meditation into your daily life. While sitting meditation is amazing, it’s really practice for being mindful in the rest of your life. Use what you’ve learned in this practice — learn to focus on your breathing as you walk or run, focus on water running down your body as you take a shower, focus on another person’s words and face as you have a conversation (as opposed to thinking about what you want to say next, for example). Find as many ways as possible to practice focusing your attention on various things that are happening in the present.
- An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life by the Dalai Lama
- Quiet Mind: A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation by Susan Piver
- The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Breathe, You Are Alive: The Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
- Yeah Dave’s Guide to Livin’ the Moment