Tips for Making Your Mindfulness Practice Stick
How to Make your Mindfulness Practice Stick
by Terra LaRock
Whether you are an experienced mindfulness practitioner or just beginning, setting up (and sticking to) new routines and healthy habits can be challenging. Here are some tips for starting your mindfulness practice and creating healthy habits to support your overall well-being.
First of all, it’s important to understand that mindfulness is both a formal and an informal practice.
Mindfulness is the ability and skill to intentionally bring attention back to the present moment, over and over again.
We cultivate mindfulness through meditation and other contemplative practices. Meditation is the formal practice (ie: sitting in stillness for a given period of time), while mindfulness is a byproduct of meditation and is informally practiced throughout the day (ie: noticing feelings, thoughts, sensations as they arise, taking conscious breaths, intentionally savoring flavors while resting in the present moment, etc.). So through regular sitting meditation, we cultivate greater mindfulness and reap the many benefits of the practice.
Here are a few tips to get you started in setting up a healthy mindfulness habit:
Connect with your “why”: the most important step in setting up a mindfulness routine is to connect deeply with your WHY for learning and practicing mindfulness. Once your motivation is clear, that becomes the foundation and fueling source of your practice--and of course it might change over time, but start with where you are now.
Why is practicing mindfulness important to you? What do you hope to gain from the experience? How might this practice benefit your life? Get clear on your motivation (your WHY) and let that be the driving force behind your practice.
Set the intention: Like going to the gym, it takes a regular mindfulness practice in order to reap the cumulative benefits--and every drop matters. So set the intention of having a daily mindfulness practice and stick to it as much as possible. It’s okay if you miss a day, just come back the next day and continue where you left off.
Setting up your space: It’s very helpful to set up a special place in your home or office for your daily practice. Spend a few minutes finding the right items to have in the space-- the right lighting, the right chair or cushion. Make your space comfortable and peaceful for yourself. It can be very small, it doesn’t have to be fancy or a separate room, it could literally be a spot in your house, garden or office that feels good to you. Perhaps you place a salt lamp on a bookshelf and pull up your favorite chair to that spot when it’s time for your meditation--that could be your space. Or you could set up a little table in the corner of the living room with items that matter to you. Whatever it is--whether it’s a big space or little space--what matters is that it’s a place you feel comfortable in where you can have peace and quiet to meditate on a daily basis.
Same time: It is helpful to have your daily meditation at the same time every day, as much as possible. See what works with your lifestyle and try to stick to it. Some people enjoy meditating first thing in the morning as part of their morning routine. Others prefer to meditate before going to bed. And some people need to schedule it in and have a reminder alarm in order to practice during their day. Whatever time works for you.
Pair your practice: Another helpful tip is to “pair your practice” with something you already do everyday. For example, if part of your morning routine includes making yourself a cup of coffee and going to the balcony for a few minutes, you could tack on your meditation practice with your morning coffee routine. Or if you always bring your lunch to work and have a habit of eating in the courtyard, pair your meditation practice with your lunch hour and that’s how it could stay consistent.
Be consistent and gentle: Like all new habits and routines, it takes some effort to maintain. One good thing to know is that our brains rewire and create new neural pathways as we develop new habits--the more we practice the new routine, the deeper the neurological groove, and the more likely it is it stick and become habit. If you miss a day or two, it’s totally okay. You can pick up again, just be gentle with yourself and return to your practice time and time again. Every little bit helps.
Please remember, you can meditate anytime and anyplace--even if it’s a 2 minute practice, that’s better than none! Here at The Mindful Mamas Club, we know how busy life is so we designed our guided meditations to be about 10 minutes. See where in your schedule you can make room for 10 minutes of self-care and enjoy the benefits of the practice. Happy meditating!
What does your meditation space look like?