Having a regular meditation practice can have numerous positive effects on your life. Meditation has been known to reduce stress, increase control over thoughts and emotions, and induce a feeling of calm, which can help in high pressure situations. However, like any other habit, it can be difficult to build and maintain a regular practice to get all these benefits.
Habit stacking is a relatively new personal development idea that helps people build positive habits that improve their life. It’s based on the idea of willpower as a finite source that runs out throughout the day. If we each have only a certain amount of willpower each day, then we can run out and find it difficult to make ourselves do anything new. We can run out of willpower simply because we’ve had a busy day, full of decisions and actions that we use our willpower to make happen. If we have a job that is full of tasks we don’t particularly like but must do, by the time we get to the end of the day, we are out of willpower and end up sitting on the couch and watching television.
This is where habit stacking comes in. We all have a lot of habits that we perform just because they’re habits. In the morning we get up, make a cup of tea or coffee, and brush our teeth, or whatever our morning ritual is without thinking about it. This is because the actions are habitual. We don’t have to use willpower to brush our teeth, we just do it. Putting the kettle on is a trigger that makes us brush our teeth. The idea behind habit stacking is that we set up a chain of habits that leads automatically from one behavior to the next. That way, we don’t use any willpower at all to perform the behaviors.
You can create a habit stack at any time of the day. If you prefer to meditate in the morning, you can add the habit before your breakfast. You get up and turn the kettle on, which leads to you brushing your teeth and then making a cup of tea. You finish your tea, which leads to you sitting down and meditating. After the meditation, you go onto the next habit in your morning ritual. At first, this won’t come naturally. It will take willpower to add the habit to your morning. You will have to remind yourself, your brain will rebel, and you will find yourself skipping it. But if you persevere, sitting down every day at the same time and after the same chain of activities, it will become second nature. And before you know it, you will automatically sit down after your cup of tea and meditate without thinking about it or arguing with yourself about it. It’s just habit.
You can use this trick to add all sorts of behaviors into your life. At first it can be difficult, it can take dedication and work, but once the habit is automatic you will no longer have to use any willpower to perform the behavior. The best idea is to start small, add one habit at a time, and try not to skip performing it, even if it’s only for five minutes. That way, you will one day wake up and realize that you’ve been meditating every day for months and never even consider taking the day off from it. It will be as normal as brushing your teeth, and that’s a good addition to your daily schedule.