I have a confession to make.
Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve barely meditated. I tried 21-day challenges here and there. I couldn’t finish them.
I had a perfect daily meditation streak during 2019. I even went to a retreat with my teacher that summer. But once news of lockdowns and contagions hit, I couldn’t sit still on my cushion.
During the retreat, we had to spend three days in silence. That means not speaking to your friends and everyone else in the retreat. Back then, I joked that I barely talked to anyone since I lived by myself, and instead, I wanted to use the retreat to spend more time around people.
Little did I know that I would spend two years and counting with little contact with the outside world and no time on my cushion.
It wasn’t all bad, though. The previous two years of meditation practice helped me immensely. Hadn’t it been for all those hours spent keeping my mind calm, I’d probably have had constant anxiety.
As is true with most habits, once you start slacking off, the benefits wear off as well.
My stress has returned in the past weeks. It’s only gotten worse now that a new variant has surfaced, and bad news is published every hour. Though I may look calm on the outside, my tightened jaw says otherwise.
Starting a habit
With the start of a new year, I’m determined to return to my daily meditation practice. I know it won’t be easy, which is why I signed up for Meditation Month, which will be guided by my teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. It runs all through January, making it a bit longer than your regular 21-day challenge.
It’s been said that it takes 21 days to create a habit; others say it takes much longer than that, although it’s 66 days on average.
At the end of the day, numbers don’t matter. Something won’t become a habit unless you do it daily. And I know that I might get sidetracked a few times before I’m back in the flow.
You’re probably in a similar situation as the new year starts. Maybe you want to exercise more, drink more water, or eat healthier.
As the first days of the new year go by, everything might be going great, but you know there’ll be a moment when you won’t be able to follow through because life gets in the way. It’s then when it’s so easy to lose the momentum you built initially.
Tracking your progress
An easy way to keep you motivated and reach your goal is by tracking how far you’ve come since the day you started.
To help us reach our goal and build a habit, I created a tracker sheet that you can print out and fill in every day to visualize your progress.
All you have to do is print the PDF on your favorite paper. The file includes two 21-day challenge sheets. One has pre-filled habits, and the other can be customized to suit your needs and can last 126 days.
Using the habit tracker is pretty straightforward because we don’t want to overcomplicate things, right?
Add your preferred sheet or both to your bullet journal or planner (if you have one), or pin it to a wall.
Fill each hexagon with your favorite color marker or pencil to track your progress.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t accomplish your first 21 days right away. It’s not a race. Keep going!
With patience and persistence, you’ll be able to build and maintain a new habit.
Don’t forget to keep me posted about your progress in the 21-day challenge in the comments!