How can we make meditation practice a new habit? We begin by encouraging ourselves. Many of us have good intentions, but our lives are very busy. We want to practice, but we feel frustrated because we can’t seem to find the time. How do we organize our lives to make practice possible—and to make practice a regular feature of our lives?
In this video, Tulku Migmar explains that we first need to remind ourselves of the benefit of meditation practice. He then explains how we train in a new habit. First, he suggests starting with short sessions of practice. As a beginner, scheduling shorter, 10-minute sessions may make practice realistic. Slowly, slowly we will build the habit of practice. As the habit becomes more of a pattern, then we can naturally extend the time we sit.
Remember that meditation practice offers many alternatives. Meditation can mean chanting a text, merit-making, meditation with support or without support, visualizing a deity, or other practices. Think about how to divide up the hours of your free time to allow you to do short sessions.
Tulku-la reminds us that “glimpses” or reminders of practice throughout our day can be very effective. This gradual approach of integrating sessions during our day is more practical and achievable. If we have too high expectations and think that we will immediately be able to practice a 3-hour session before we leave or when we return from a busy workday, we often are unable to achieve that goal. And if we approach the practice unrealistically it often results in discouragement and we skip our practice totally. We miss one day, then another, and soon we lose our habit of practice. It is far better to build the habit of practice slowly and gently, with strong intention.