Monday, November 30, 2009

Making a commitment to yourself — and keeping it

When you commit to marriage or some other monogamous relationship, you make an agreement with yourself and your partner to stay together through thick and thin, no matter what life brings. Without this commitment, you may be tempted to leave when your partner becomes angry or does something you can’t stand — or when you find yourself withdrawing or “falling out of love.” Of course, you can always decide to end the relationship, but as long as you’re committed, you’re going to do all you can to maintain it. The same holds true for meditation. Commitment is the foundation for your meditation practice. Without commitment, you won’t keep meditating when you’re tired, have a headache, don’t feel like it, would rather do something else, or run up against some of the roadblocks. And what prompts you to make the commitment to meditate in the first place? You have to be motivated, which means you have to know how you can benefit from what meditation has to offer, and you must have strong personal reasons for continuing. These reasons may include a desire to alleviate personal suffering or stress, an aspiration to achieve greater focus and clarity, and a concern for the welfare of others. The commitment process usually involves five distinct steps — though it doesn’t necessarily have to be so formal:
  • Becoming motivated: Ouch, life hurts! I need to find out how to deal with my pain.
  • Setting your intention: I know, I’ll meditate for 30 minutes every day!
  • Making an agreement with yourself: From now until the end of the month, I agree to get up at 7 a.m. and count my breaths before I go to work.
  • Following through: Whew! I didn’t realize how hard it would be to sit still for so long — but I refuse to break my agreement with myself!
  • Gaining momentum: Wow! The more I meditate, the easier it gets. I’m really beginning to enjoy it.

No comments: