When my friend Kevin started meditating, he sat for 5 minutes a day. For the first three weeks, he skipped one day per week. That wasn’t by design. It just happened. Then he wrote me this email:
I’ve been doing sitting meditation 6 out of 7 days. I now realize how detrimental it is to miss a day. It’s so much more than one day. I feel like I am starting over from scratch the next day. It makes me not want to miss any more days going forward. The continuity is super beneficial. Taking a single day off made me feel almost like I had never meditated in the first place. It was like I had completely relinquished any amount of skill I had accrued over the previous 6 days of practice. It was disheartening and a little scary.
A couple months later, Kevin wrote:
I have continued to skip days, about once a week. It’s easier now, to recover from missing a day, but it still represents a surprising step backwards.
I do not see a permanent lapse in my future. Meditation is now a thing that I do. It’s not a thing I’m trying out. Missing a day highlights the continuity that I am disrupting. But I’m not really at risk of lapsing. If I miss a day, I am extra dedicated to not skipping the next day. I’m unwilling to make not meditating the norm again.
I know other meditators besides Kevin who have a nearly daily practice. So it ispossible to sustain a practice without dailyness. But at the outset, I think it’s a very bad idea to aim for anything less than every day. Besides the disruption of progress, and besides the risk of lapsing, there’s another reason. This is foundational. It has to do with the two mindsets.
Mindset one is: How little can I get away with?
Mindset two is: How much can I do?
A lackadaisical outlook is way better than no look at all. But a practice that is eager and ambitious is harder to derail and gains more benefits.
Dailyness is available in print, ebook, and audiobook at all the usual places.