In order to keep meditating with commitment and intensity day after day, it helps to bring to it a sense of novelty. That’s a tall order. It sure looks like meditation practice is just doing the same exact thing over and over again. That’s why it’s critical to learn to refresh the perspective on it.

A sense of repetitiveness and boredom destroys the will, and that’s more than enough to shut down the cycle of regular practice right there. In my experience, grimly hanging in there past that point can actually make things worse. Layering self-judgment and masochism on top of the suffering of boredom can start to do lasting emotional damage. Sure, you could try to work with all those negative feelings in meditation, but it’s probably best to head them off before they start.

The thing is, it’s not a trick; there really is novelty in every situation, even on the cushion. The light in the room is always a little different, the position of your body is always a little different, and your mix of thoughts and feelings is always way different from one moment to the next. I know, it sounds too cute to actually use this, but it’s true, and it works if you let it. Every single moment is different from the last. They’re all novel.

There’s one mental quality that can reliably generate the sense of novelty, and it can be boiled down to one word: curiosity. If you can learn to locate your sense of curiosity and feed it with mental energy, your ability to go, “Huh. What’s this?” will refresh any situation with novelty. It works on the cushion, it works when I don’t know what to write about my time on the cushion, and it works out in the world, too.