Half-asleep, still in bed, sitting up in the very dim light of my smartphone timer and trying to stay warm with my robe wrapped around me. That is what my meditation practice looks like.
I have a perfectly nice meditation cushion. It’s on the floor next to my bed. I can literally roll out of bed and land right on it. But I don’t use it for my daily practice in the morning. One reason is because my bed is warm and the cushion is not. The other is that I’m already here in this comfy bed and getting out of it requires an extra step. Extra steps and cold are my personal kryptonite, and when they’re involved, I’m much less motivated.
When I teach my educator colleagues about meditation and the value of a daily practice, we have candid conversations about the challenges to integrating this habit into their lives. The big hurdle most people grapple with is not feeling they have the time, which I completely understand and identify with. This is why I often recommend that people meditate first thing in the morning, before all the demands of the day get in the way. If you think about it, the morning is one of the few times in your day that isn’t impacted by external circumstances.
As a non-morning person, I also understand people’s hesitation to meditate first thing. Sleep is extremely important, and I believe we as teachers often do not get enough of it. That being said, if you can snooze one less time (I’m historically a three-snooze kind of gal) before getting up in the morning, you can meditate.
The key to establishing this and any new habit is to eliminate as many possible friction points as possible. Friction points, the obstacles that give you the opportunity (and potential reason) to NOT do the new behavior, can come in many forms. One example of a friction point between me and going to the gym after work is whether my gym bag is packed and in my car. If I have to go home to get my workout clothes, it is highly unlikely that I will make it to the gym.
So, to circle back to the truth about my daily meditation practice: I’ve been more consistent with my morning meditation since I’ve eliminated the friction point of having to actually get out of bed. It wasn’t part of some master plan, it just happened and then it stuck.
If you’re curious, here is more detailed description of what my practice looks like:
I have an old iPhone that I use as an alarm, and when my alarm goes off, I reach over and turn it off to get 15 more minutes of sleep before my second alarm goes off. At some point, I also grab my robe (which is next to the bed within grabbing distance) and stuff it under the covers to warm it up. (I told you I don’t like being cold!)
The second alarm then goes off and sounds different, which helps me to remember that this is the “real” one and I need to wake up now.
I then grab the phone and open up the timer app and set it for 10 minutes.
I sit up in bed with my legs crossed in front of me, take the robe out from under the covers and put it on, and then reach behind me for the pillow I was using to sleep. I tuck the pillow under me to support my back as I sit upright in bed, I start the timer, and meditate.
I know this isn’t riveting stuff, but I’m describing it here in detail to demystify what someone may think a meditation practice “should” look like. It doesn’t have to be in a beautiful, minimalist setting. There doesn’t need to be candles or incense (although I just got a remote-controlled candle for the bedroom that I now use when I’m meditating and it makes me perversely happy). You don’t need to be in some ideal state of mind and experience moments of transcendental clarity.
You just need to do it.
If you’re interested in establishing a daily meditation practice, I’ve created something to help you. It’s called The Teaching Balance 30 Day Daily Meditation Challenge, and it’s FREE.
I understand the challenges to meditating every day, and I also know from experience how incredibly transformative it can be if you do meditate every day. This challenge will help you identify and remove the friction points that could hinder your meditation practice, and will give you daily support as you get more comfortable with meditation and establish this daily habit.