By Leo Babauta

If you’re still doing the Iron Will Challenge (aka the Consistent Meditation Challenge) — or even if you’re not — I’d like to encourage you to try a mindfulness practice around two common sticking points:

  1. You’re feeling like avoiding the challenge activity (meditation, for most of you, in this case); or
  2. You are doing it but not feeling devoted — instead you feel a bit slack about this activity.

Neither of these is a problem! They’re both completely natural, and exactly what we want to work with in this challenge.

As you finish this challenge, and take the practice of iron-willed commitments beyond this month … I’d like you to practice with these sticking points in this way:

  1. Notice that you’re feeling like avoiding the difficulty (not feeling like meditating, for example) or feeling slack about your commitment (not really into it).
  2. Turn toward the difficulty (feeling like avoiding it, or feeling slack about the commitment). Take a moment to just be with this feeling.
  3. Be curious: what is it like to want to avoid thinking about this? What is it like to feel resistant? What is it like to not really be into it? How do these things feel physically, in your body? What can you notice if you look even closer?
  4. Stay with it for a moment longer. This is your practice ground. This is exactly what you want to work with in this challenge. You don’t want to waste this valuable material, because it is in all areas of your life. Stay with it, and feel fully present with the feeling of avoidance, resistance, slackness, uncommittedness.
  5. Let yourself relax around the feeling. See if you can find gratitude for it. Compassion. Love. A wide open mind. Wide open consciousness. Try all of these modes, and see if anything changes.

Nothing has to change. You don’t have to solve this problem, because it’s not a problem. It’s an opportunity to practice.

What might happen if you practice with these long term? I believe you’ll go deeper into these patterns, and by being with them in a gentle, curious, compassionate, open way … things will start to shift. You’ll find courage not to run, but to be with. You’ll find curiosity that will shift your attitude towards your experience. And you’ll be able to navigate through these inevitable patterns so that they don’t control you.