I think I waited so long to pick a healthy habit because the two leading candidates: meditating on a daily basis or picking the three things I was going to do during a day, just seemed like too much of a commitment. I didn’t think I could do either of them every single day. My solution to this problem was taken from Jill Bolte Taylor’s “My Stroke Of Insight”. When Jill talks about relearning things after her stroke, she says that things were successfully learned by chopping them into discrete steps where the complexity of each step was manageable by her mind. In the realm of habit creation I take this to mean make the new habit simple enough to be workable.
I had thought that meditating daily meant finding 20 minutes out of my day, every day to meditate. That is so not workable right now. So I thought about 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes. All were a no go. What I settled on was committing to counting 10 breaths. In the particular form of meditation I practice, you count your breaths from 1 to 10 and then repeat the count indefinitely. So I am effectively committing to doing 1 unit of meditation. While this main seem like a cop-out, I maintain I will end up doing more meditation by setting this commitment. If I were to commit to 20 minutes a day and knew I couldn’t do it, I would just skip that day’s meditation. But since I am committing a counting 10 breaths, I really have no excuse not to sit down and do it. It’s too easy to not do every single day. And since its the minimum, I might fall into a routine of doing 5, 10, or 15 minutes a day. The point is that I will do something everyday. That will give me a daily foundation from which I can build. My goal is to sit for 20 minutes but will get there one set of breaths at a time.
Speaking of goals – why meditation? What do I hope to gain from it? In the particular form of mediation that I practice, you always start with out the vow “No matter how many sentient beings there are, I vow to save them all from suffering”. This is a very nobel sentiment. I am going to sit with a goal that’s a little more modest. Having seen myself meditate and not medidate over the years, I believe I am a lot more fun to be around when I mediate. I am more relaxed and easy going. If I don’t mediate, I can get really cranky (think godzilla). So the reason I am sitting is to save the people around me from suffering! They shouldn’t have to put up with ‘sir-cranks-a-lot’. So this one goes out to all my friends…
Look for a daily update’s on how I’m doing at http://joel-accountability.blogspot.com/