A lot of people ask me how to make meditation a habit you do daily. And I have a pretty good answer to that question. With my method you’ll meditate every day.
So first let’s discuss the elephant in the room: meditation apps. They are not the answer.
Apps offer only basic tracking. And while apps like Headspace and Calm can help us make meditation a habit, there is a better way.
You know how it is.
You want to track your practice each day of the week so you can begin to get into the practice of being mindful. And if you’re like me, and you do different kinds of techniques, you might want to know how long you do those different techniques for.
To make meditation a habit you will need to do it consistently for 68 days, because that is how long it takes to establish a habit. .
But you also know that you’re a busy person with things to do and it can be hard to find the time to meditate.
That’s why you need:
- A way to record your practice durations (which you can do with an app like Insight Timer)
- A way to motivate yourself to practice daily
When you start tracking, you can make sure that you are giving enough length to each of the major techniques.
Why You Need To Make Meditation A Habit
It is vital that you track your meditation time. Otherwise, you won’t be able to get all the 100 benefits from meditation.
You’re a busy person and it can be hard to find the chance to meditate. Or rather, most people wrongly think they are too busy (the psychology is amazing). And you’re human anyway. Heck, sometimes I miss my morning session too. But the more you make mindfulness a routine the more consistent you will be with it.
When we build a routine, our brain demand that we continue with it because of the surprising way dopamine works. Your brain rewards itself by following good daily routines. And the longer you stick with it, the more motivated you will be to continue.
Plus, mindfulness works cumulatively. The more you practice, the more you will get out of it.
There’s another reason why you need to track your practise: Because time flies when you’re meditating.
Have you ever noticed how time flies when you meditate? You sit down on your awesome meditation cushion, close your eyes and its suddenly hours later.
Time is valuable, and we all need to spend it wisely. When practising, you want to spend the right amount of time doing different techniques. You want to divide your practice between different techniques.
It is important that you spend your time on more than one technique because different techniques offer different benefits in terms of health and well-being. For example, Loving Kindness Meditation is very good for building positive feelings towards other people. And breathing meditations (Anapanasati) are good for focus.
The take-away is this: you will get more out of meditation if you use a variety of different techniques.
1: Make meditation a habit
2: Track it
3: Make the most of your practise time.
Here’s How To Track Mindfulness To Develop A Routine
The best way how to make meditation a habit is by tracking your practise time. This way you can stick to a plan, like my Beginners Buddhist Plan.
To do this, start by choosing a good tracking app
Which app should you use?
There are lots of good time logging apps for Android and iOS that can help you to keep track of time. And, of course, it is entirely up to you which app you choose to use.
Personally, I like to use an Android app called aTimeLogger (and just for note, I am in no way affiliated or associated with this company, I’m just using this app as an example because it’s the one I use).
Using aTimeLogger you can do lots of great things:
- You can set goals and specify how much time you want to spend on each technique per week. This helps with habit-building.
- You can divide a total up into different segments. So, for instance, you can choose to spend a total 10 hours a week meditating, and you can then break that total into smaller chunks, so you can spend two hours on one technique, half an hour on another, and so on.
- You can track your meditation time.
When you track your practice in this way, you take things up a notch. You are able to make sure that you divide your meditation time up between different techniques, which is vital if you want to get the most out of your practice.
Tracking meditation Time with aTimeLogger
This guide is written using aTimeLogger, but feel free to use whichever app you prefer. Lots of apps offer similar functionality. I use aTimeLogger because it’s the app I enjoy the most
1. Download aTimeLogger (or an app of your choice) in order to follow along with me.
2. Choose your techniques.
To start with, you, will want to choose the techniques that are best for you.
Write a list of the different techniques you would like to do in a week (use the link above to read about the uses of different meditations and create your list based on that).
For me, my basic minimum weekly requirement is that I practice Zen, Zen Walking, Loving Kindness, Anapansati, Samatha and Dhyana.
3. Choose how long you would like to meditate for in a week
Personally, my total practice lasts about ten hours each week.
Once you’ve chosen your goal duration, create it as a task in aTimeLogger.
Enter it into the logger under the heading “Meditation”.
In a TimeLogger, I create a “Task” called “Meditation”
CREATE THE “MEDITATION” TASK
Click on the three dots at the top and then choose GOALS
Enter the details for how long you would like to spend meditating in total.
4. Divide into chunks for each technique.
You’ve now entered a total duration. The next step is to divide the total up into different chunks that you will spend on each individual techniques.
I know that I will meditate for around ten hours a week, give or take depending on how my schedule.
I also know how important each technique is for me, dependent on my individual needs.
So I can then break up my ten hours into different chunks.
So, for instance, I might choose to spend 2 hours a week doing each of five meditation techniques, to make ten hours total.
You will need to create each meditation as a different TASK using the steps above.
Then assign the right amount of time using the GOALS section of the logger.
Go ahead and enter your goals for each meditation technique.
In the picture I am setting a goal of 2 hours for the task of Loving Kindness Meditation.
Do the same for all the other methods you do in the week.
Note: You will want to switch the GOAL TYPE to “Reach” instead of “Limit”.
5. Next time you meditate, record it using the app
Each time you meditate you will want to track it. You do this using the Activities section of the app.
Visit the “Activities” tab of the app.
Click the activity you are doing.
The app will start tracking the time.
When you finish meditating, just press the STOP button.
The ACTIVITIES section of the app
NOTE: This image shows more than just meditation because I use it for my work and exercise as well.
6. The app will track each time you meditate and record the totals.
Using the app, you can see how long you spend doing each technique.
Visit the GOALS tab. (Click the three dots at the top, and then GOALS).
This will show you how much time you have currently spent doing each task.
This helps you make meditation a habit because you can visualise the time you’ve spent meditating.
On the GOALS tab, you will see how long you have spent on each technique in a given day or week.
The green lines represent items that you are doing well on. The yellow are items you’re okay on. The red are items you need to work more on.
So, for instance, if you have a green line for Zen meditation but a red line for Breathing meditation, it’s time to stop doing Zen and start doing breathing meditations.
This helps you stick to the habit because you can see when you are behind. Time to catch up!
Eh, voila! You now have a great way of tracking your meditation time and making meditation a habit. No more missing that special morning meditation.
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