Momentum is everything: 4 ways to keep the ball rolling

Posted by on Feb 6, 2013 in Buddhism | 527 Comments
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One thing I was reflecting on during the 28 Day Meditation Challenge: momentum isn’t just important – it’s vital.

With meditation, yoga, and many other things in life, if you don’t keep a regular drip, drip, drip happening, the benefits leak away to nothing.

But if you keep it regular, even a relatively small amount of effort can reap massive rewards over time.

A single step (repeated many times)

That saying that occasionally floats around Facebook springs to mind – even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

That’s all well and good, but you’ll never bloody get there unless you take the next step, and the next, and the next.

One step, taken regularly, is not much effort. But you will surely get there if only you’ll keep taking it.

This, for me, is an unfortunate characteristic of reality.

I get excited about beginnings. Endings are pretty cool too. But the middle bit? Yawn!

Unfortunately, the middle bit is the vast majority of anything.

Get rid of the flab

Over the years, I’ve developed a few techniques to keep excited during the flabby middle:

1. Find new beginnings. Step number 3071 on the thousand-mile journey has a beginning, a middle, and an end. By breaking it down, you can enjoy the excitement of new beginnings as a regular part of your life.

2. Get there using various modes of transport. Sure you can just take one step after another after another. I have a friend who could repeat the same action forever and never get bored. He’s a drummer. But for me (a guitarist, singer, producer, play a bit of synth and not too bad on the djembe), I need a bit of variety. So I find new ways to do things along the path. The 28 Day Meditation Challenge is one way I thought of to keep my own practice vibrant. By setting myself the challenge of running it, I was forced to see meditation again through the eyes of someone new to it.

3. Join a group, class, tribe or community. You can’t rely on will power alone over the long term. When your will runs out, you may be able to rely on habit. You can also rely on those around you. If you want to stop smoking and only hang out with people who don’t smoke, it’s going to be a lot easier to avoid lighting a cigarette when your will fails. You can’t simply say ‘Hey, can I have a cigarette?’. You have to leave where you are, go out into the cold, get to a shop, buy the things, unwrap them (all on your own, standing in the cold), go back into the store because you forgot to buy a lighter, etc, etc. It’s much less likely you’ll actually smoke the cigarette. The same is true of meditation and other kinds of Buddhist practice. That’s one of the main reasons I started this blog. I wanted to create a hub around which a community could form. This is already starting to happen and it’s wonderful!

4. Practice meditation. Yup, meditation’s even good for helping you practice meditation! (or anything else you want to do for that matter). The craving for newness is, in Buddhist terms, a craving for sense experience. It’s one of the five hindrances I spoke about during the challenge. By developing a mental and emotional state that is more contented with the present moment, just as it is, your craving for something other than it decreases. So it’s easier to keep with whatever you’re trying to achieve. One baby step at a time, each one taken in the ever-present present.

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Did you know The Meditator's Handbook is out? It has everything you need to set up and maintain an effective meditation practice. Check it out!

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