As we begin a new year, it is the perfect time to recommit to our mindfulness practice. If we really want to make it sustainable this time, it can be helpful to look at what some potential roadblocks are as well as practical tips.
Aversion to Failure
As humans, we strongly dislike failure. If we cut our practice short because we could not sit still or we spent the entire practice wrapped up in our thoughts, it does not mean we are not good at meditation.
The nature of our mind is to have thoughts. We tend to avoid practicing if we have a misguided notion that as soon as we sit, we will feel peaceful.
A successful mindfulness meditation practice is NOT one where we are able to completely clear our mind and we do NOT need to have a completely quiet space to practice meditation. I can't recall how many times my practice has involved several pets rubbing their noses against my arm so that I pet them or the times I've practiced in my car to help me find peace and quiet.
It is not our circumstances that allow us to meditate, it is what we choose to do with our attention throughout our day.
Successful Mindfulness Practice
A successful mindfulness practice is one where we pay attention, on purpose, continuously letting go of distractions to the present moment, without judgement.
Mindfulness can happen as you are walking from your car to your house, as you are brushing your teeth, or even as you are washing dishes. As long as you intentionally let go of anything taking you away from being fully present you are off to a great start!
What is most important is that we are training our attention to get into the present moment - that we move out of autopilot.
Make it sustainable
In order for our practice to become sustainable, it is best if we get specific about how to create habits of mindfulness.
What is your primary optimal window of time to practice?
Schedule it into your day.
Choose a 2nd and 3rd window of time.
We are all imperfect and will slip up one day. Your 2nd and 3rd option can be the game changer that helps you stay on track.
Be realistic with length of your practice.
Although we might want to practice 10 or 30 minutes, practicing 3 minutes is also impactful!
Practice with a friend or community - we are social creatures!
Choose how you will practice - guided or unguided? (Don't ever hesitate to reach out if you have questions or would like suggestions!)
Will you be using an app?
Where and what will you sit on.
Remind yourself why you would like to practice more mindfulness.
Track your micro mindfulness moments (times you're mindful while brushing teeth, those 10 deep breaths before sending an email, etc.) by coding it on your planner/calendar.
Visually tracking our progress strengthens our willpower.
Alternatively, you can use any free habit trackers available online.
Reward yourself after 1 week of practicing every day and again after 2 weeks, 1 month...
Don't underestimate the power of one minute mindfulness practices!!
What other areas of your life are you holding yourself back because you are expecting perfection instead of sustainability??