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  • Writer's pictureEmmy Graham

The Benefits of a 40-Day Meditation Practice

It is said that it takes at least 40 days to make or break a habit.  By committing ourselves to a particular meditation, we create a new relationship both with ourselves and with the meditation.  Like any relationship, a commitment deepens that connection, regardless of the ups and downs and rhythms of our day or our week, regardless of whether we feel like it or not. And that’s really the whole point: we practice the meditation even when we don’t want to, for in doing so, the meditation and our relationship to it helps us break old patterns that no longer serve us and plants the seed of a new habit that will serve us.  This commitment forces us to look at ourselves and deal with what we find.  This is not always easy.  We may feel complete bliss and joy on one day of practice, or boredom and frustration the next.  It’s all a normal part of the process.

The first time I practiced a meditation for 40 days, I was excited, and well, a bit scared.  I was a newly trained Kundalini Yoga teacher and one of our homework assignments was to practice a 40-day meditation of our choice.  I chose to do Sat Kriya. I started with 3 minutes a day, and slowly built up to 31 minutes over a 40-day period.  Suddenly, I had a new responsibility; with my new commitment to doing Sat Kriya, I had this somewhat strange and exciting new ‘thing’ that I now did every day.  Thus, the excitement and the fear – what if I just couldn’t do it? (Spoiler alert: I managed to do it.)

Over the years, I’ve taken up various meditations for a 40-day period.  Maintaining my commitment sometimes required getting a little creative.  I’ve done meditations in airports and at campgrounds, in hotel rooms, in cars, and sitting outside on the ground in cold drizzle.  I’ve meditated discreetly and quietly when visiting certain family members, and I’ve also raced home at 11:30 at night at the end of a very full day to complete my meditation before midnight.  I have found that I cultivate a very special relationship with the meditation when doing a 40-day practice.  I can’t call and cancel or offer excuses - I just have to show up and do it.  The meditation is always there, solidly, quietly waiting for me, regardless of my day or my moods.  Ultimately, what changes is me. 

If you’ve never done a 40-day meditation practice and would like to try, here are a few pointers:

  • Start small.  A little goes a long way.  Make it feasible for you.  Consider starting with a 3-minute meditation.  Of course, if you feel ready for an 11-minute meditation, or more,  then by all means start there.

  • Try to meditate at the same time every day.  The best time is in the morning, before you start your day.  Of course, life often intervenes, and this may not always be possible, but routine is good.

  • Choose something that is not too complex.

  • Keep a journal.  Many insights may come as the days turn into weeks and it will be helpful to jot these down.  You can also keep a record of your mood and your feelings about the meditation.  It’s ok to write, “I hate this!”  The process of developing a relationship with a meditation and the discoveries you make about yourself can be profound, so it’s nice to track this. 

  • Ask a friend or partner to join you, if that helps keep you committed. 

  • Keep in mind that you are developing a life-promoting habit.  Be kind to yourself as you go through this discipline.  It is, ultimately, a commitment to Self-Love.

Suggested Meditation: Meditation for a Calm Heart

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You might consider doing Meditation for a Calm Heart for your first 40-day practice.  This is a gentle and beautiful practice that focuses on the heart center. This meditation can be done for 3 minutes at a time or up to 31 minutes.  You can choose to do 3 minutes a day for 40 days, or you could work up to 11 minutes a day or continue to work up to 31 minutes over the 40-day period.  

Or, follow your intuition and choose a meditation that speaks to you. 

I wish you the best on your journey with meditation.  Sat Nam!



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