A Three-step guide to navigate through hidden mental barriers.
Being mindful is the best way to enjoy daily life.
Does your heartbeat rise when you hear the word mindfulness? Do you feel a strong urge to explore more? Yet, you see that you are struggling to build your mindfulness into a steady, solid practice? Well, in this blog, I will introduce you three easy steps to develop your motivation for meditation and mindfulness.
You need to be in the right place at the right moment! – Motivational Quote
Are you familiar with this saying?
Well, it is not what I am about to say. This moment is the right moment, and it is made right by nobody but you!
Every moment is precious. Each second adds up to a minute. Then minutes become hours, and hours become days which turn into months and years. So we build our lives through these little moments. How about infusing motivation into these tiny moments? Having this perspective, I tried to approach developing motivation for meditation as if infusing tiny drops momentarily.
For example I used to get the help of motivational quotes, every now and then. Try these positive quotes on kindness to inspire you.
Check these beautiful videos on kindness. They will boost your positive vibes.
The most beautiful things are not associated with money, they are memories and moments. If you don’t celebrate those, they can pass you by – Alen Wek
Let me reassure you; being mindful is the way to get the best out of each moment. This assurance comes from over 25 years of experience (check my bio here).
Explore more to develop motivation for meditation.
Perhaps, you are already motivated enough to explore, learn and adopt mindfulness into your daily life. That is really great.
Is there a ‘but’?
This ‘but’ is the barrier—the ‘but-barrier’ (I have just defined this term this second!).
Well, in my early years, I was exactly like you. Days, weeks, months and years passed by. I was still there.
Want some proof of this? As a Buddhist, I was exposed to meditation practices since the day I was born. I was very much inspired by my uncle, who does meditation sittings for hours and hours. And I wanted to learn and practice. I knew it could improve my studies, social skills etc. But, until the age of 35, I just kept making excuses.
Yes, sadly, until the age of 35, I was stuck in the ‘but-barrier’! Yet, finally, I found the trick to overcome it. That is what I am going to share with you.
Mental barriers against motivation for meditation.
What is the but barrier?
In my experience, it has different disguises; today is a rainy day; it doesn’t give me the right motivation. My studies need more attention. My family needs more attention. Why should I be selfish? Mindfulness is only about me. Instead, I should think about others first.
This endless list of reasons goes on and on. My mind presented them to me as a wise-man sitting inside me. The reasons are perfectly logical and convincing. One day I realised this is nothing but my deceiving mind. And the outcome is procrastination.
Sounds like you?
Ok, here is how I came out of this ‘but barrier’, to develop motivation for meditation and mindfulness.
Strategies to navigate through the barriers
Step 1: Get the resounding Yes.
First, I confronted my inner-talker (i.e. my inner self). Hey Mr.! Do you really need to learn to be mindful? The first answer was a weak, shaky yes. I asked again, and again, and again until I got the resounding Yes. (You are right, I was forceful). That sound of “YES” was assuring, very loud, very powerful, very strong, very convincing.
Well, stop here for a moment!
Ask yourself that question now. Yes, right now, please. This is your moment! Take it. Own it. And convert that wobbly yes into a resounding YES.
I trust the following list of questions may help you to get that resounding yes:
- Do I need to learn to be mindful?
- What if I don’t?
- Why not I search for optional paths?
- Am I really, really…..REALLY…serious about mindfulness?
Keep asking, until you get that resounding Yes. Otherwise, I advise you not to rush into the next section. Just spend more time to consolidate your conviction.
Developing motivation for meditation is an incremental process. So, you should lay a solid foundation at each and every step. Resounding yes is a rock.
Step 2: Put your heart into it.
So, coming back to my story, I converted that resound yes, into my passion. I put my whole heart into it, to develop motivation for meditation. How? I started reading, talking and working around the subject of mindfulness, until I become a crazy, nutty mindfulness chaser.
With my closest circle I used to place the topic of mindfulness into our regular chats (often they laughed at me, or else questioned why I was doing this. That is how the world responds when you move forward).
I read a lot of books about the basics and how-to books on mindfulness.
The first book I read on mindfulness was Peace Is Every Step, by Thich Naht Hanh, one of the world-renowned Vietnamese monks residing in Paris. I still recommend this book for a beginner in mindfulness. It educates you, motivates you and introduces you to simple ways to practice mindfulness daily.
Engaging with a community of practitioners.
I realised I needed more like-minded people to discuss, engage with and learn about mindfulness. Then gradually started searching for a community of mindfulness practitioners. Back then, I was in Sri Lanka, and Buddhism was all around me with Buddhist temples, Sunday schools, devoted practitioners etc. I tried engaging with many of these, yet it was difficult to find an appealing one. It required a lot of time and effort. Ironically, finally, I found the place where I worked (Sarvodaya-Sri Lanka) was the best place. Yes, surprise, surprise – this journey is full of surprises. Sometimes the answers surround us, but we just don’t see it.
The library next to my office was full of books on the subject. Many of the workers were mindfulness practitioners, but they did not identify it as mindfulness. During that time, the word mindfulness was more associated with the West.
Online communities are great places.
Today, the internet is an excellent place to find mindfulness communities. They will be helpful to develop motivation for meditation. Just join one of them, on Twitter, Facebook (for example, follow me at @KindnessCode or on Facebook). Or else spend a day at a place like Amaravati monastery, where you will meet mindfulness practitioners, veterans as well as novices, in a serene and attractive environment, close to London.
Monasteries are lovely places to motivate you for meditation.
In places like Amaravati you will meet many others who are looking for the answers for the same questions that you have in mind. Who knows, you may make some new, unexpected friends who are ready to help you, share their story with you, perhaps even go the extra mile to be your guide. Such interactions and experiences can re-orientate your mind towards a solid, consistent mindfulness journey.
‘I definitely want to be like him / her. She is a great practitioner‘. That is the kind of determination you need at this stage.
Let me be honest. This passion & determination alone is not enough. The journey of mindfulness is long and passes through stages. You will face more challenges as you continue.
Our strong inner passion is the guardian to keep us going through those challenges. Yet it needs more homework. This is why you need the next step.
Step 3: Start doing random acts of kindness
Now you are strongly committed, your passion is so strong, you want to master mindfulness as quickly as possible.
Show me the shortest path!
Ha..ha very impatient, aren’t you?
Pardon me for reminding you once again. (please take it very seriously. I really, really want you to succeed). Do NOT jump. Just walk. Mindfulness is a journey. It evolves through stages. If you rush, you might lose sight of the track. You won’t be able to enjoy the beautiful flowers and tasty fruits that you can enjoy in this beautiful world of mindfulness.
Doing random acts of kindness is necessary at this stage.
Let the whole day flow with kindness.
In my case, I started doing acts of kindness almost at every opportunity, every day. Basically, from the get-go of the day, I looked for opportunities to put my kindness into action. Very small acts of course, such as a donation to a street beggar, sharing my lunch, giving up my seat to an elderly person.
But this gradually builds into much finer forms that require sensitivity and devotion. Being in a tropical country like Sri Lanka, insects are all around you. Speaking about finer forms of kindness, my attention goes to ant colonies. I spent time removing them (delicately) from my shower cubical when I realised my morning shower was going to kill thousands of small ants. I know it sounds crazy, but small acts of kindness like this is how our heart becomes a fountain of compassion. Our action become kinder to all living beings. Kindness, empathy and patience become influencers in our decision-making process.
These attitudes & attributes make the ground fertile and allow us to cultivate a consistent and sustainable mindfulness practice. Still not convinced?
A case study; on developing motivation for meditation.
Let me give you one more example. This is a case study to demonstrate how these three steps worked to help my friend Pierre Jones to develop his motivation for meditation. He was very keen to improve his mindfulness yet could not build it into a consistent practice. As I write this blog, his daily meditation has become a 30-minute sitting every morning. Below is an extract from his kindness diary (entries from 7 – 13th August 2019); a list of random acts of kindness.
- Rescued a caterpillar who was stranded on a path and took it somewhere where it could live
- Found slugs on allotment and rather than killing them put them on the compost heap
- Spoke with Jimmy, the homeless person who lives in a wood, and listened to him even though he was speaking angrily
- Gave Harsha a book on Buddhism!
- Listened to a lady in a charity shop and let her talk about looking after her elderly mother and father and said she wasn’t bad for getting angry with them, but rather she was just tired and worn out because of having to care for them.
- Went and gave Mum some French beans from my allotment
- Watered Dad’s allotment
- Picked up rubbish along the creek
- Rang my friend who was due to have a check for bowel cancer today
Remember the three steps; having a resounding Yes was the first step, and then putting your heart into it was the second step. With random acts of kindness, your heart gets stronger to learn, explore, experiment with mindfulness practice.
Remember the three easy steps.
Now you have read this far, let me remind you. You wanted to learn how to develop motivation for meditation, yet your ‘but-barrier’ was putting it off all the time. I have shared how I have overcome the barriers. It all started with a resounding Yes from my inner-self as the first step. Then I built a strong passion through engagement with mindfulness communities and others. And finally, I built a routine of random acts of kindness in my daily life. With these three steps, you can be on the path to learn mindfulness. Now is the time!
Now is the moment. Own it! And start practising these three steps.
The world is full of mindfulness practitioners. The links below are a few good ones that I have found interesting.
The world is full of mindfulness practitioners. The links below are a few good ones that I have found interesting.
Additional resources on mindfulness: