How to make a meditation habit last

How to start meditating daily with Leah Santa Cruz

Many of us vow to start a new habit like meditation with a burst of willpower, aiming for discipline, only to find ourselves retreating to old patterns within a few weeks. 

I’m Leah Santa Cruz, Balance's Co-Head of Meditation, and despite being a teacher of this, I've also been there. I have succumbed to my busy schedule before and had to reset my meditation habit at times along my journey. And if you're reading this, chances are, so have you.

But what if I told you there's a better way? A way that doesn't rely on willpower alone but invites meditation into your life as a natural, enjoyable habit? Through my own experiences and conversations with meditators over the last decade, I've distilled it down to four essential steps to make meditation a lasting part of your life.

Find a teacher to help you start meditating daily

One of the most effective steps in establishing a meditation practice is finding the right guide. Research meditation teachers in your area or download a trusted app with expert teachers, like Balance.

A good teacher doesn't just instruct or give you the same technique as everyone else—they get to know you, your preferences, and your needs, helping you navigate challenges and plateaus in your practice. 

When your meditation journey is tailored to you, it’s more likely your habit will stick. Meditation isn’t one-size-fits-all, so finding a guide who can help you explore new techniques that evolve with you as you grow through life will be invaluable for your long-term success.

Take bite-sized steps with meditation for beginners

It's easy to get discouraged when you first start meditation and are bombarded with thoughts. Most people make the common mistake of trying to sit for a long time and fight their minds into silence—both of which are recipes for disaster. 

Diving into long meditation sessions—think 30 minutes or longer—from the beginning can lead to frustration and burnout. Instead, try to begin with short meditations. Even three minutes can be impactful in helping you practice and internalize the foundational skills of meditation. Skills like welcoming thoughts and acknowledging them instead of fighting them. As well as the skill of paying attention to something with curiosity and appreciation. As these skills become second nature, you'll naturally crave longer sessions. 

Start with manageable chunks of time to make the practice easy, enjoyable and something to look forward to, rather than an obligation.

Find accountability to remember how to meditate daily

Finding a meditation buddy, joining an app or attending a class can provide the accountability and support you need to stick with it. 

If you find a meditation buddy, you can have your own individual home practices, and touch base with each other regularly about how it’s going for each of you. This can enrich both your experiences and keep you motivated.

If you want to make meditation a lasting habit, you’ll want to integrate it seamlessly into your daily life. For example, if you go for a walk or take your dog out regularly, you could do a walking meditation during that activity or sit in meditation for 3 minutes afterward on a park bench. If you regularly exercise, you could follow it up with a few minutes of resting in meditation, taking in the flood of endorphins in your body. Or if you drink coffee or tea in the morning, you could do a meditation while drinking your favorite beverage. 

Whether it's a few moments in your morning routine or a brief session following a daily activity, linking meditation to your current habits can naturally make it a regular part of your routine.

Let go of perfection to begin meditating daily

A technique, in its most simplistic definition, is something that you bring your attention to. Not every meditation technique will resonate with you, and that's okay. So this final step is to explore different techniques until you find one that feels like a mini-vacation, allowing you to relax effortlessly as you bring attention to it.

Whether it's focusing on your breath, a sound, or a visual, finding a technique that you love is crucial. And experimenting with different techniques under the guidance of your chosen teacher will help you find the practice that brings you the most joy and relaxation (or energy, if that’s your focus!). I believe that your individual preferences and needs should steer the journey you take with meditation, which is exactly why Balance personalizes it for you.

And remember, the path to making a meditation habit is about progress, not perfection. So celebrate every meditation session, no matter how short, and don't be discouraged if you miss a day. Because recognizing your progress, even the smallest steps, reinforces positive brain pathways and keeps you motivated. You can do this by giving yourself a pat on the back, treating yourself to something special, or simply acknowledging each session with a heartfelt "great job!"

Make meditation a daily habit with Balance

If you approach this journey with patience, exploration and self-compassion, it’ll soon become a cherished part of your life. 

And if you’re eager to start making meditation a habit, I encourage you to download Balance now. We have hundreds of guided meditations, sleep stories, and other audio tracks that are perfect for beginners and experienced meditators alike, and it’s absolutely free for your entire first year. 

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