A man closing his eyes, pointing upwards

Mindfulness techniques are like apps or pieces of software. The apps might be great, but they won’t work perfectly if you run them on a slow, clunky, out-of-date device. Sometimes you have to update the hardware—your brain.

Maybe you’ve been using the techniques that I share here for dealing with stress, improving your focus, and sharpening your mind. Want to power them up? Here’s how you can access the full strength of these techniques: meditation. If you meditate every day, even just a few minutes, the mindfulness techniques you’ve learned will become much more powerful. Plus, the meditation practice itself becomes very restful and enjoyable, like giving your mind a well-deserved break.

Two game-changing tricks to develop the meditation habit

Meditation is easy (see Mind your mind in previous issues). But creating a habit of daily practice is not. I struggled for years before discovering two tricks that solved the problem for me:

1. The clever trick

I use this trick whenever I feel the urge to skip my daily sit or do it “later” (aka never). The trick is this:

I shrink the length of the session in my head until I hit a level I don’t feel resistance to.

For example: “Could I do 15 minutes? No, I feel resistance, I’m not gonna do it. OK, what about 10? Still too long, the thought puts me off. Maybe five? Huh, I don’t feel resistance to that. I feel like I can sit for five.” Boom.

Then, if my session ends and I feel like sitting longer, I do.

2. The better trick

I wake up at a set time every morning and immediately meditate, before doing anything else.

You might be different, but if I do anything else first — breakfast, a workout, checking my phone — I have trouble getting myself to sit. Actually, I’ll go further: Putting off the morning sit almost guarantees I won’t sit at all.

So there’s a second part to this trick: Admitting to myself that “I’ll sit later” is code for “I’m skipping my sit today.”

Once I owned up to that, meditating daily became almost effortless. I just stopped believing my own “I’ll sit later” lie and committed to sitting first thing in the morning, when I’d actually do it. This was a game-changer for me.