If it were as easy to develop a good habit as a bad one, then we would long have completely replaced our wrong habits with the right ones. However, in reality, we have to test the strength of our willpower every time we want to start doing something new.
What is more, almost everyone is familiar with the feeling of guilt for their laziness. Each time we promise ourselves that tomorrow we will begin to meditate and in a week it will become a daily ritual. Hence, in practice, it is postponed for “tomorrow for new achievements”, and then for another tomorrow and so on. It’s familiar, isn’t it? In response to this trap we fall into, how can we best develop a habit? In this vein, we will focus on Kaizen, what this philosophy means, and how it can help you include meditation into your life. But first, let’s emphasise the importance of daily meditation and why it offers substantial benefits over an inconsistent or sporadic meditation practice.
Daily vs. Irregular Meditation
It’s really quite easy to set goals and understand how to achieve them (i.e. set the goal of meditating every day and accomplish it by meditating every day). Many even manage to get into the rhythm and engage in meditation for a month. But after a while, a person stops, as if one’s reserves of willpower have been depleted.
Why not interrupt daily meditation? Let’s look at the main advantages of daily practices over irregular meditations:
- Daily meditation helps you to become skilled at mindfulness in a way that is harder to achieve with irregular meditation. The less often you practice meditation, the further you move away from the opportunity to develop the state of mindfulness in yourself – that is, the state of full awareness of yourself, your life, and each of your actions.
- The less you practice, the more likely you are to stop meditating. This habit is new, and the less practice, the less likely that the habit will take root. And vice versa, when you meditate daily, after a while you simply cannot stop doing it. It becomes like brushing your teeth, a form of mental hygiene that you take care of just as you habitually take care of your dental hygiene by brushing your teeth.
- Daily practice allows you to find balance and get a better chance of becoming stress-resistant. Irregular practices can only reduce the load from the resulting stress.
- With each meditation, you improve both your mental and physical health. The benefits of meditation operate on a cumulative basis, thus a noticeable “wow” effect is less likely when you practice irregularly.
- Through daily meditation, you become more adept at taking care of yourself, listening to your inner world, and revealing previously unvisited elements of the self.
What is Kaizen?
Kaizen is a comprehensive philosophy aimed at continuous optimisation of business processes. If we translate the word “kaizen” it means “continual improvement” or “good change”. From the Japanese, kai means change and zen means good. Masaaki Imai – a Japanese organisational theorist – developed the Kaizen technique in his book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success (1986). Imai is widely considered one of the best business consultants in the world.
What’s the essence of Kaizen? In order for this practice to work, on a daily basis, you will need to spend one minute of your time to achieve the goal. It is advisable to perform these actions at the same time every day. Using this approach, one can easily not only develop a useful habit but also firmly root it in one’s lifestyle. The main idea behind the Kaizen philosophy is that small, continual positive changes lead to major improvements over time. This runs counter to the mainstream narrative of making big changes through big leaps. The 10 principles of Kaizen are as follows:
- Let go of assumptions.
- Be proactive about solving problems.
- Don’t accept the status quo.
- Let go of perfectionism and take an attitude of iterative, adaptive change.
- Look for solutions as you find mistakes.
- Create an environment in which everyone feels empowered to contribute.
- Don’t accept the obvious issue; instead, ask “why” five times to get to the root cause.
- Cull information and opinions from multiple people.
- Use creativity to find low-cost, small improvements.
- Never stop improving.
Many of these principles can, in fact, be helpful in trying to adopt a daily meditation practice. One will encounter various challenges in meditation (e.g. trying to meditate perfectly) and so, some specific principles – besides the general one of continual improvement – can aid one’s meditation.
Who Should Use This Methodology?
While Kaizen was originally applied to quality management (ensuring that an organisation, product, or service is consistent) and lean manufacturing (simultaneously minimising waste within manufacturing systems while maximising productivity), we can also apply it to the area of habit development and self-development, including the disciplined pursuit of meditation as a daily habit. As soon as you try Kaizen and spend only one minute per day, you will realise that you can improve your life easily. Hard work really isn’t required. In this way, Kaizen is suited to even the laziest among us.
How to Apply the Kaizen Technique
So finally, let’s move on to the main issue. How to make the Kaizen technique help make meditation a part of your daily ritual? The principle is to devote a minimum of time to the process daily and increase the time every day.
You will need to meditate at least one minute every day. If you can set aside 5-10 minutes from the start, then this is even better. The social scientist BJ Fogg notes that, according to the research, mornings are the best time to cultivate a positive habit because they have a greater likelihood to stick. Our reserves of willpower and motivation decrease as the morning progresses to evening. To develop a habit as soon as possible, and to make the Kaizen technique effective, it will be necessary to gradually increase the time spent meditating each morning. For example, after three days of meditation per minute, try to increase the time to five minutes. And increase the time every day until you achieve the desired result.
For instance, you want to meditate for 30 minutes a day, it will be optimal to calculate the increase in daily time so that after 2-3 weeks you can achieve the desired result.
If you have decided that you need meditation as a good habit, you probably understand how this process will change your life. If you are one of those who find it too difficult to root something new, then the Kaizen technique is a great place to get started. Following the above recommendations will allow you to easily slip into a daily habit of meditation, which is conducive to significant personal changes.
Frank Hamilton has been working as a translator at translation service TheWordPoint. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing, and self-education. He also loves travelling and speaks Spanish, French, German, and English.