Athletes know that changing workouts is critical to build new muscles, avoid plateaus, prevent burnout and overuse injuries, and even challenge the brain. Likewise, if you’ve got a well-established meditation practice, shaking it up can offer similar benefits.
With both exercise and mediation, the more we do something repeatedly, the easier it becomes and the more we allow ourselves to run on autopilot. In Search Inside Yourself, SIYLI founder Chade-Meng Tan writes:
“One important similarity between exercise and meditation is that, in both cases, growth comes from overcoming resistance. For example, when you are weight training, every time you flex your biceps in resistance to the weight of dumbbells, your bicep muscles grow a little bit stronger. The same process happens during meditation. Every time your attention wanders away from your breath and you bring it back, it is like flexing your biceps— your “muscle” of attention grows a bit stronger.”
As we grow stronger, the “resistance” that Meng writes about lessens over time, and the workout becomes less rigorous. There’s nothing wrong with a comfortable and durable meditation practice, but, like physical training, it’s interesting to mix it up to see if something new surfaces.
So how do you typically meditate? Do you usually use an app or not? Guided meditations are great, but they can become a crutch. Alternatively, if you usually meditate without an app, guided meditation might offer something fresh. Think of it this way: Have you ever taken a guided tour? If so, the guide probably pointed out sights you might not have seen and shared details you not have otherwise learned. On the other hand, have you ever wandered a foreign city, just to see what you would discover on your own? Each exploration shapes the experience in different ways.
Do you sit cross-legged or walk when you meditate? Are you always alone, or do you meditate with others? Where do you typically practice? Do you close your eyes or focus on an object?
The question is: What could you do differently to open yourself up to a new experience?