Getting Started With A Mindfulness Practice
In this early part of the year, most of us are working on or towards our New Years resolutions. For some of us, that may mean a commitment to exercise, clean eating, or the like. For others, it may be a commitment to more quiet time or mindfulness. I personally have had a mindfulness practice for the last five years or so. Those that know me personally know that I consider it to be the practice that has impacted me the most in my life. My wife will tell you that I am quite “persnickety” and that I find myself with many new practices or resolutions. I enjoy routine and I find that the more healthy living routines I can add to my day, the better I feel. That said, sometimes it can be overdone, which I am prone to do. Throughout the different fads and personal development practices I add, the only constant I have found is my mindfulness practice.
So, today I wanted to give you a baseline way of getting started, based on the way I got started.
1. Make a commitment to do it. Choose a goal, be it 5 days in a row, 10 days in a row or whatever. As we all know, habits take time to form. I have read many books on habit forming and I have read that for a habit to take root, it can take anywhere from 21 days to 18 months. In my personal experience, it took about 45 days in a row for it to become a habit. What’s interesting is that 18 month number. Ray Dalio, in his book Principles, contends that it takes 18 months for a true habit to form. He describes it as a “need” after that point and I can completely attest to this. Having meditated for well over 18 months, I truly find it as a daily “need”. It’s something that if I don’t do, my brain and body literally feel like it is a necessity for me to continue on my day. Running is the same way for me. It’s a strange feeling, but one I enjoy.
2. Figure out where you are going to do it. Meditation and mindfulness can be done on the floor, in a chair, on the subway, doesn’t matter. My only recommendation is that you make it your space, assuming you aren’t on the subway(in that case be kind to those around you), and try not to lie down while doing it. For some people this works, but for me, I always fell asleep.
3. Choose your method. This could be as simple as sitting quietly or listening to some rain sounds on your phone. If you want to take it to the next level, download an app to do a Guided Meditation. I like these because it takes the thinking out of it for you. My personal favorite has been Headspace, which I have used for over 3 years now. I really enjoy their approach towards learning how to sit mindfully or meditate. They take you through a day by day course, starting at 10 minutes a day and working up to 20 minutes a day. They also have all sorts of different focuses like stress, productivity, sport, etc. If Headspace isn’t your style, I have also sampled Insight Timer, Simple Habit and Oak. All of them get the job done.
4. Reread Step 1.
Again, there are a thousand different ways to begin a mindfulness practice, this just happens to be my favorite. The key is to find something you enjoy and look forward to. Something that will integrate with the rest of your life and allow you to carry that mindfulness to the other corners of your life throughout the day.
I’d love to hear about your mindfulness practices, so list what you do for calming the craziness that our brains can often be. If you don’t have one, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly and I’ll help you get started.