Sustaining a meditation practice takes commitment. By dedicating a certain time and place to meditation, you’re telling your mind that meditation is important. And by repeating a behavior—in this case, meditating—over and over in the same way, the behavior becomes a habit.
And that’s what we want: a daily habit that steadily increases our happiness, wisdom, and ability to love and serve others.
To make a habit stick, we need to reduce the barriers to doing the habit. Fortunately, most of the barriers to meditating are just in our heads! After all, you don’t need to travel a long distance to meditate. You don’t need to get dressed up or pay anybody anything. All you need to meditate is a bit of time carved out and a relatively quiet place to sit.
The best time to meditate is the one that you will do. For most people, that is either first thing in the morning, or before bed.
Many people find that their minds are sharpest and their willpower strongest in the morning. Others find that they are more able to relax and focus after all of the day’s activity is over. Try both to see what works for you, and then commit to that time.
Even on challenging days, the best practice is to keep the habit going, even if it means sitting for two minutes to slow your breathing and generate a motivation that uplifts your mind. If you have a hectic day ahead, perhaps you simply wish, may I have patience and calm so I can be kind to others all day.
Some people meditate in a living room chair after the kids have gone to school. Others have an entire room for meditation—or even create a sacred space inside of a closet!
No matter what your situation, find your quiet place.
Ideally, that place would be where your meditation cushion or meditation chair lives, without being moved around or used for other things. This is similar to the advice to do as little as possible in your bedroom besides sleep, if you want to fall asleep faster. By having a dedicated meditation space, as soon as you sit down, you fall into the habit with which you associate that space.
Similarly, some people find lighting incense before meditation sets the mood. Like settling into your dedicated meditation spot, the sensory cue tells your mind it’s time to meditate.