Habits Need Your Belief To Stick

By Kim Lowe, Simple Intentions Managing Editor

meditationWe’ve been talking a lot about habits lately at Simple Intentions. And not just because a new year is upon us and with it impending resolutions. Habits are also top of mind because our colleague, Sameer Bhangar, has been preparing to lead a Stop & See client workshop, and creating intentional habits is a core concept participants learn in that workshop.

During a practice run, Sameer challenged me to address a habit I’ve been struggling to keep for years: daily meditation. I’ve long understood the many benefits of meditation, and certainly experienced them during previous attempts at daily meditation. But for some reason, I can’t seem to sustain the habit. Intellectually, I know it’s good for me. But somewhere between my intellect and my actual behavior, breakdown occurs.

In practicing Stop & See with Sameer, I was reminded of the Habit Loop, popularized in The Power of Habit, which consists of a cue, a routine and a reward. In fact, I’ve considered this loop in the past, with attempts to attach meditation to existing routines such as immediately upon waking or after working out. Alas, I like to sleep, and I like to exercise, and my preference for sleeping a little longer or running another mile gradually squeezed out time for meditating.

This time, I realized I’d missed an essential element of habit forming. In focusing so much on the common pieces of the Habit Loop – cue, routine, reward – I overlooked an adjacent and critical element: Believing it’s possible for me to meditate every day.

The question came from Sameer: “Do you believe you can meditate every day?” Without skipping a beat, I heard my heart say no. No, I can’t meditate every day. The reality is, at this point in my life, I have a million things going on, and there’s no possible way I can sustain the effort of sitting down and meditating every day.

That’s not to say I’m giving up. I know meditation is too powerful to entirely surrender. With Sameer’s coaching, I came to a habit I do believe is possible for me: I can sit down and mediate once a week, every Monday morning before heading to work. Just the idea of starting small – one day rather than every day – brought on a relief that opened wide the possibility – and belief – that I could maintain a meditation practice.

And what better reward is there, post-meditation, than having a clear head and peaceful attitude for my Monday-morning commute to work.

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