There’s a lot of mixed science out there with how long it takes to form a habit. Some say 21 days for simple activities and much longer for others. Well, regardless of whether I have formed a habit or not, today, April 16th, was my 21st day in a row of waking up and meditating.
I found myself naturally fall back into meditating when this all began. Meditation has been in and out of my life for a decade. I would have moments when it was easy and exactly what I needed and then months where I never even thought about it. This time it all began because someone at work mentioned she went to a meditation class. I have been attending a lot of Shaman workshops and so my mind hadn’t even thought of meditation in a while. Apparently just hearing that she tried it woke up something inside me.
The next morning, I set my alarm for 30 minutes earlier…and over slept.
But the day after that, I woke up 30 minutes earlier, found a spot of the floor and shut my eyes.
Each day I started the same way. I woke up, showered, made my coffee, took a few moments, then sat on a cushion on the floor. The first week I only followed my breath. I felt every vertebra in my spine wince and slouch but I just kept straightening my back…or getting closer to a wall…and following my breath.
As the days went on, I started to mix in some guided meditations too. I even made some of my own. Sometimes the guided ones were exactly what I needed because my brain needed a trellis to grow through. Other days all I wanted to do was listen, feel, taste, and touch my breath. These are the days I felt I came closer to myself. I could feel myself…sinking into…myself. Weird right? The vantage point started to change.
Continuing, the thoughts that started to surface seemed to have more meaning. They weren’t just plans for the day, anxiety about tomorrow, or a rehashing of yesterday. That was new for me. At that point I started to keep a journal next to me so that when I was done, if something popped up that I thought felt important, I could write it.
I also started to play with my senses when these things came out. For example, one day I started from my root and worked up each chakra: What does this chakra sound like? Feel Like? Look like? I didn’t question it. I just let the first cloud of thought drift in with an answer and drift away just as easily. That day I am convinced I learned more about my body and self than I ever had. Not because I did something, but because I just sat and listened.
I was really interested in seeing when my practice would start to bleed into the rest of my life. Unfortunately, there was no massive moment at work where I jumped out of my chair and realized I did something because I meditated. Nor did all my life’s problems end in 21 days. But what started to happen was that I was working smarter. I felt in control of my work day. Moreover, I felt in control of my emotions. The stress of others remained theirs. I didn’t take on anyone else’s anger, I was instead sitting in my own work, breathing, and doing it. My to do list was growing longer, but so were the lines crossing tasks off. I started to parse out projects better and control my time to get them done. I don’t think I truly realized that until a few days ago when it really kicked in.
21 DAYS IN REVIEW
Moving through this program, I started to go to sleep eager to meditate in the morning. Excited for a chance to recalibrate. Moreover, when I used to try and meditate after work, life would always get in the way. I would stress about it at work. Will I have time? Will I have the energy? Can’t I just go get a drink instead? But for me, starting my day like this was much easier than ending it that way. But that’s just what worked for me and my own rhythms.
So even if 21 days isn’t the sure rule for when a habit forms, it was a milestone for me. Each day I wondered what it would feel like on the 21st day. Now I wonder what it will feel like on the 90th and 180th. All the times in my life that I made a conscious effort to start failed, this time it seemed to just appear to me.
If you are meditating regularly, or want to start, I would love to hear your story and what you are doing about it.
Just keep sitting.