BUT I’VE NOT HAD INSTANT RESULTS!
How to keep yourself motivated, even if progress feels slow.
Congratulations! You’re at the 2 week point – half way through your 28 day challenge.
How’s it feeling? What have you learned so far? Are you finding it easier to make the space and time for your meditation? How did you find this week’s meditation, compared to last week’s?
Today we’re talking about how to keep motivated until you see the results from your meditation.
Remember how you used to give yourself time to learn?
When we were learning to read as children, we knew that it would take time, concentration and focus. Learning the new skill was about learning from what worked and what didn’t – making mistakes – and then creating the habit. Whether it was crawling, walking, eating with a fork or learning to read, we used to give ourselves time to get things sussed.
Yet with things like meditation, it’s amazing how often we expect to achieve results akin to enlightenment in the space of the first few days. It’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting to tame decades’ worth of an unruly mind in just a few short weeks. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but we beat ourselves up pretty quickly when we don’t achieve near-instant results.
Anyone who learns to play a musical instrument knows that the early stages can be tricky, as you learn so much about how to handle the instrument: how to control the sounds it makes, how to relax into playing it. It is said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a virtuoso. But you don’t have to go that far to enjoy playing music. There are plenty of stopping points along the way.
And it’s the same with meditation. You don’t have to be an expert meditator, to enjoy it and reap the benefits.
I often hear people lamenting at about this stage that their mind is still chattering away and that they find it hard to maintain ten minutes’ focus. That’s ok! You’re human! Meditation is a skill that needs practice. And remember the #1 meditation myth from Day 1?
So my questions for you this morning are (allow yourself time to think about this one):
What have you been expecting from your meditation practice?
What are you hoping will happen for you?
And, being honest, how soon were you expecting to experience that?
The dangers of expectations
When we place an expectation on our meditation, it becomes a box that confines our experience of the process.
We unconsciously look for things that support that expectation. If our expectation falls within the box, then great. If it’s not as good, we feel like a failure. Those of us running perfectionism traits will tend to beat ourselves up over it, big time. It’s like a limiting belief causing us to sabotage what we are trying to achieve.
It takes time and dedication to be able to meditate. It’s like any other skill, in that respect. And the best thing we can do to support our learning is to approach each meditation with an open mind and without attachment to previous experiences or expectations of the next one.
Meditation can be a profoundly powerful and beautiful experience, but we have to practice it to get results.
Our meditations might be very different every day.
Some days you might really feel you’ve reached a place of inner peace and calm. And that can set up a whole new level of expectation… On other days you might wonder, “Why did I bother doing that?”. It is all part of the meditation journey, it is all part of the learning process.
Here are some suggestions to help you notice the improvements and progress you are making.
- How about keeping a mood diary?
At the end of each day, how about jotting down a few notes of the kinds of emotions you were feeling? In just a few weeks, you will notice how you are able to ride the waves of life and your emotions more easily. When you see this, congratulate yourself. Meditation goes much deeper than the ten minutes a day you’re spending on it; it impacts all areas of your life, so if you’re not seeing the results you had hoped for, bear in mind that you might be looking for progress in the wrong place!
- Trust the process
How many millions of people across the world have found meditation helpful, over the millennia? Why should you be any different? If you keep practising you are going to get there.
- Be realistic
Blissful enlightenment may well be possible on your first sitting, but it is unusual… One session is unlikely to take away all of your stresses and cares. Let the process work. Give it time to take root and grow.
Beating yourself up over not developing a new skill fast enough is a learned habit.
Think about it: when we were learning to walk or talk or eat – things we now take for granted – we made mistakes. It went wrong. We spilled food down our front, we fell over, we got our sentences muddled up. We didn’t beat ourselves up – we picked ourselves up and we kept going, because we knew the process of gentle, determined practice would work.
Beating ourselves up about not picking up a skill instantly is a habit we acquire, rather than a natural state of ‘humanness’. So the great news is that you can choose to unlearn that habit!
You can choose to stop beating yourself up.
Beating yourself up hasn’t exactly been working over the years, so how about encouraging yourself, instead?
How about starting today?
How about starting to think about your meditation journey as a process, which you know is going to work?
Your job is simply to create the habit and then to allow yourself to enjoy the journey. And that’s exactly what the 28 Day Meditation Challenge is all about.
Want to share your experiences – or check out how others are creating the habit and keeping themselves motivated?
Here’s a reminder of the Week 2 Forum Link:
Wishing you a very lovely Day 14!
Day 14 Affirmation
In this moment, I choose to encourage myself and celebrate the progress I have made.
P. S. Tomorrow we’ll be moving on to discover the secrets of mindfulness.
P.P.S. The key links you need for week two are:
Week 2 Meditation: