7 Ways To Inspire Your Meditation Practice
You commit to sit, and then you learn how. The next stage of
meditation is sustaining your practice day in and day out. For many of us, this
is the hard part. But don’t wait for inspiration to come to you, like a bolt
from the blue. Instead, take an active role, tending the sparks of inspiration
and coaxing them into the inner fire
of tapas or self-discipline. Here are seven ways to keep the flames
1. Establish a routine. Routine has gotten a bad rap: We
tend to equate it with dull or boring, instead of viewing it as a supportive
structure or a touchstone. Sticking to a daily routine leads to greater
efficiency and, when it becomes automatic, it can short-circuit doubts or
resistance. Super-charge your routine with intention, and it becomes sadhana
or spiritual practice.
2. Introduce fun. Within your routine, leave some room for
fun to help keep your practice fresh. Learn something new or experiment with a
different technique for focusing the mind. If it’s a particularly beautiful
day, take your practice for a walk
outdoors. Meet up with a meditation
group; some people experience strong feelings of support or resonance when meditating
3. Lower the bar. If you have a hard time meeting your daily
practice goal, don’t beat yourself up. Negativity stifles inspiration. Maybe
your expectations were unrealistic—try a shorter session and add a few minutes
each week. If you miss a goal, start over and see it as a fresh beginning.
Balancing effort and
non-attachment is one of the key teachings in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
4. Keep a meditation diary. Recording your impressions of
your practice will sharpen your skills in self-observation
(svadhyaya). You’ll learn where resistance and distractions crop up, and
you’ll be able to recognize your progress as you experience longer periods of
peace and stillness.
5. Shift from “push” to “pull.” We are a culture of doers,
and the desire to “do” often results in striving toward an external goal. If
that’s working for you, great. If not, look instead for the pull, the inner
yearning that draws you onward toward balance or wholeness.
6. Reward yourself. When you reach another level of practice
or understanding, celebrate with something that will help you reinforce or
expand on your momentum. A strand of beautiful japa beads can be a daily
source of inspiration for mantra
meditation. Attending a Vipassana retreat
can help you deepen your experience. But the best reward may be the simplest:
Adding five minutes more to your meditation practice.
7. Phone OM. According to some yoga teachings, when we chant
the three-part AUM,
we honor the three aspects of energy represented by the Hindu trinity. At the
beginning of an undertaking, there is Brahma (AH), energy that creates or
generates. The closing sound (MM) is Shiva, who destroys in order to transform
or clear the way for a new beginning. Holding the center (OO) is Vishnu, the
sustainer, whose 10
incarnations (which include Krishna
and Rama) were in service to humanity. The energy personified by Vishnu is the
universal flow that steadily maintains all of existence. Tune into this
frequency; it’s already yours.
How do you stay inspired? What keeps you returning to your