I have long been convinced of the value to forming healthy and productive habits, in fact I believe it is one of the keys to a successful and fulfilling life, though at the same time I haven’t exactly mastered many of the habits which I would like to form part of my daily life. Over the next ninety days I plan to change this by beginning a structured meditation practice.
Again I have long understood some of the benefits associated with regular meditation; reduced stress, increased calmness, increased ability to remain mindful and happy, among many others. I have sporadically meditated using different methods over recent years, but never solidified anything close to a regular practice of meditation. It makes sense that with something of this nature you are never going to experience the full benefits without a regular commitment.
The Most Fundamental Habit
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits (one of my blogging idols) describes meditation as “the most fundamental habit“. Essentially he sees meditation as a habit which can not only aid nearly every other area of your life, but can aid in the formation of other habits. His reasoning seems sound, he does a much better job of explaining it than I. So in terms of beginning to build up a repertoire of healthy habits, I see that meditation is a great place to start.
The other main reasoning behind starting with meditation is that some of the core benefits it provides are the things that hold me back the most. I am a very anxious person, and whilst they frequency and severity has drastically reduced from their worst stage, I still experience panic attacks from time to time. I don’t think anybody who knows me well would describe me as emotionally stable. I can tie these things to a few personally traumatic events that I have experienced. Whilst these things are still too raw for me to cover off completely here, they aren’t something I hide, and in the fullness of time I do plan of sharing the story of those to help anybody in a similar situation. My biggest issue is that these worries and anxieties can snowball and build on themselves, and I see the best way to be able to deal with this is building up my ability to be mindful and let things go. This is where meditation comes in.
The Quest For Mindfulness
Mindfulness is existing completely in the moment, taking in what is around you and not worrying about the past or the future, but rather about experiencing the simple joys of what is now. Increasing your ability to remain mindful and let things that don’t matter go is what is at the core of meditation. When you meditate you are practising being in the moment and nowhere else. The more you practice the easier it becomes, and you can bring mindfulness to the rest of your life.
Why Ninety Days?
So starting on the first of June I began a commitment to meditate for at least two minutes everyday for ninety days. Why ninety days? Many people claim that ninety days is the amount of time it takes to form a habit, though many people make the same claim for thirty days, six weeks, or any other arbitrary length of time. I don’t believe that there is simply a number of days that you can do something for which will officially click you into habit mode, and leave you doing it everyday for the rest of your life without effort. For me ninety days seems like a long enough time, that if I can meditate everyday for that long, why shouldn’t I be able to keep going? And at the same time committing to a fixed period of time isn’t nearly as intimidating as committing to meditate everyday for the rest of my life.
Whilst I have only committed to two minutes each day I plan to increase the amount of time I dedicate to meditation as the ninety days goes on, in fact since starting I have meditated for three minutes each morning. The requirement of two minutes simply means that even on the most busy days of the period I will still be able to dedicate the two minutes regardless of anything else, since it is such a small time commitment.
I’ll update you on my progress as the ninety days goes on, and hopefully be able to document some of the positive effects.
- Zen Habits guide to meditation (this is where the daily two minutes comes from)