Open any number of meditation books by Buddhists or Hindus, and they will recommend making a special, quiet, clean place in your home for your meditation. They also recommend daily meditation at the same time of day. These recommendations capitalize on sound psychological reinforcement principles and is wise advice to help amplify your practice by using familiar triggers to speed your re-entry into special mental spaces.
On the other hand, you also find other meditation books occasionally recommending that practitioners try meditating outdoors in both good and bad weather, on noisy subways, or in other very different settings. They rightfully claim that such routine-breaking can be valuable for getting beyond limiting habits and plateaus in insight. Such changes can also expand the ‘sacred’ in one’s life.
Today, reading “Christian Century”, I found an author writing about the same principles for Christians:
“I have been told since my teenage years about the virtues of daily Bible reading. To encourage this habit, I have also been encouraged to do this reading/reflection at the same time and in the same place to help reinforce the habit. For various reasons this is a good and practical suggestion.”
— James McCarty (Christian Century)
McCarty’s article then goes on to suggest, in a similar way to the mediation advice, that breaking the routine and reading the Bible in new, challenging places may also be surprisingly helpful.
Funny, we all recognize the same mental patterns, and then apply them to our special/sacred world. But we often don’t recognize that those with very different values follow the same principles as ourselves.
Listening to this advice, maybe now that warm weather has come, I will read the Ramayana to my daughter while we sit on the porch rather than in the family bed.
Question to readers: Do/did you have any valued practices in your life where you capitalize(d) on the benefits of either “same special place” or on “breaking the routine”?