Meditation: A Habit Worth Cultivating

Anjali mudra pose- practicing meditation, photo by Michael Keany My alarm goes off. It's 4:45am. I have a choice and a short amount of time in which to make it before habit or my thoughts take over. My heart may say "meditate", but is my mind in agreement this morning? There is approximately 1 in 3 chances that my body makes it to my meditation pillow.  The options that run through my mind are as follows.....

a) "Absolutely!" I then commence to lighting a candle, setting up my station and starting the timer. Huge win for the morning.

b) "Eh, I'm pretty tired." Coffee sounds better than sitting down and potentially falling back to sleep in the upright position.

c) "Nope, not even close to happening". And then there's the rare occasion where I actually go back to sleep until 6:30am or so and just tell myself that I needed the extra rest that day.

By nature + habit, I'm an early riser. Morning has always been my favorite part of the day and I don't typically find it difficult to wake up Monday- Friday at 5am. J and I have a little rhythm that I delight in, a routine that I look forward to waking up to when my head hits the pillow every night. 5-6am is reserved for coffee, journaling and reading.  6-7am is movement- swim / yoga / or run.  7-7:45am get ready for work and then we're both usually out the door.

Trying to fit meditation into this schedule, I often feel the need to sacrifice one of the things I'm in the happy habit of doing, OR commit to waking up before 5 every morning. I said I'm an early riser, but I would rather not be awake in the 4am range. So more often than not, the sacrifice is my meditation.  I've had a few rare days that I decide not to exercise/ stay home and find I'm really challenged by it- which makes me think I probably need to do it more often.

It's easy to pick the physical practice. My body finds joy in movement and the days that I do get up and sweat I find that I am more focused, calm and confident during the day.

But I have to admit that I feel similar feelings when I commit to working on my mental practice.

Mental practice meaning focusing on my breath, expanding mindfulness, seeing with a clearer and higher perspective, working through my own thoughts of limiting belief and connecting with a greater power.

The same thoughts appear every time after I'm finished, "why don't I do this more often?!" The statistics and studies are all out there on the interweb that remind us that meditation decreases stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc but it's a practice that you can't just take others words for. If you're new to meditation I suggest doing some research and looking for a teacher or class in your community.

There are many different techniques and styles so you'll want to find an approach that speaks to you and will help establish a base. I found it incredibly beneficial to have a teacher, and was lucky that MY teacher's teacher (Paul Muller-Ortega from Blue Throat Yoga)  came to Oahu while I was living there to do a Meditation Initiation. Even when I fall off my practice, I feel solid enough in my foundation that I know my mind will get back into the rhythm when I decide to sit on my pillow.

Do you have a meditation practice? Or kinda-sorta have one but find it challenging to dedicate time to it? Please tell me I'm not alone. ;) Share your challenges, struggles or pointers with me in the comments below?