Your "Why" Will Make or Break Your Meditation Practice


By WITHIN Cofounder Hannah Knapp

I recently led a workshop in collaboration with one of WITHIN’s teachers, Landra Eliopolous, on mindfulness at work. The group was super enthusiastic about incorporating mindfulness into their workplace - for themselves, and for their teams. Landra paused in her explanation of different techniques they could use, to ask a simple, but powerful question:

Are you clear on why you want to create a mindfulness practice?

Landra knows from her years of teaching, and her work in Human Resources at various companies in the Bay Area, that if you know why you want to do something, you’re infinitely more likely to actually stick with it. And, conversely, if you don’t know why - if you’re just starting because it seems like a good idea, or your friend did it, or your boss told you to - you’re more or less destined to struggle, forget, and drop that new initiative.

I’ve seen this in my own practice, and in countless students who walk through our doors at WITHIN Meditation.

When I’m clear on exactly what my meditation practice makes possible in my life, I make sure I sit down and do it. When I lose that clarity, I come up with excuses not to.

For me, the why often comes down to how practicing meditation allows me to show up in my life. When I’m committed to my practice, I am noticeably more even-keeled, accepting, and just plain present, at home and at work. It creates this amazing virtuous cycle: I see how meditating is helping me be how I want to be, so I do it more, so I notice its impacts more, etc.

Conversely, when I become distracted by wanting a particular thing to happen in my life (or not wanting a particular thing to happen), I forget that why. I get overly focused on trying to manipulate and navigate the circumstances of my life, and forget that it’s really about how I meet whatever happens that matters - and that practicing meditation allows me to meet challenges with clarity, compassion, and grace.

It’s such a relief when I realize I’ve gone down this rabbit hole, and can pull myself back out by refocusing on that why.

So as you consider getting started with your own practice, what’s your why? Here are three questions Landra suggests you ask yourself to help clarify it:

  1. What would be different if you practiced meditation?

  2. How would you be feeling?

  3. What would be true then, that isn’t true today?

Take a few minutes to write down your answers to those questions. Really allow your why to sink in. Then, decide how you want to begin. Maybe it’s with three mindful breaths every morning after you brush your teeth. Maybe it’s with a class or a meditation app. The important thing is that you’re clear on why you’re making that effort to get started.

On October 8th, we’ll begin our #MindfulStart Meditation Challenge. As part of that, we’ll help you get clear on your why and give you the guidance, support, and accountability you need to start your own personal meditation practice.

We’d love to have you join us for #MindfulStart.

As the WITHIN community has grown, our students have practiced getting clear on their whys. Many of them have been a part of our #MindfulStart Challenge, and found it incredibly helpful in launching their practice, and sticking with it. Here are some of their stories, as inspiration for your own why:

What’s your “why” for practicing meditation? Tell us in the comments below!