I finally broke the streak. I had meditated 122 consecutive days and I finally let the business of life get in my way, and quite honestly I spaced on meditating that day. Honestly, taking a day off was probably needed and in many ways I’m grateful. My approach to meditation feels different now, similar to an athlete who’s been on a streak and finally it breaks, then the pressure is off and they can refocus on the joy of what they do. I realized that my daily practice was starting to feel more like a chore than something I was enjoying and looking forward to doing. Now, I can appreciate taking the time for myself that day, focus on the content of my meditation and not just ‘doing it.’
There are pros and cons to meditating with an app like Insight Timer, and focusing too much on my average duration was creating pressure. I appreciate that the app keeps stats, which have overall motivated me and helped me establish my meditation practice. I had progressed my meditation practice up to an average duration of 21 minutes, but I realize that I was putting pressure on myself to meditate for at least twenty minutes a day. For a while that was feasible and enjoyable, but that might not always be the case, as in these last couple weeks. Thankfully, I softened on the drive to ‘do’ and ‘achieve’ and backed-off, shortening daily sits to more manageable lengths closer to 10 minutes. I realize it’s not the duration, but the quality that brings the many benefits of meditation. The old adage less is more can be words live and practice by.
What I’ve learned is positively influencing my approach and my attitude towards my practice, and this applies to yoga just as much as meditation. I have had a similar journey with yoga practice, where I get more out of it when I want to get on my mat not because I think that I have to. Being a truly dedicated practitioner doesn’t mean making myself meditate every day, or making sure I sit for at least 20 twenty minutes. It’s more valuable when I contentedly meditate for 5 minutes after practicing yoga, or happily start my day with a nice 10 minute focused meditation. This approach has helped me feel lighter and more joyful not only when I sit and meditate, but throughout the day because in the back of my mind there’s no longer a thought ‘remember, you still have to meditate today, and keep your average up.’ Those kind of goals can create a burden, which doesn’t serve to cultivate consistency and openness with the practice.
I hope some of this insight proves valuable to you as you deepen your practice. A light-hearted and open-minded approach to practice, whether it’s yoga or meditation, can help release any tension or pressure that you put on yourself to do it. Utilize the tools you’ve gained from your practice to shift into appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity to practice. It’s ok to take a day off, too, it may help you refocus on why you love it 😊