I recently reached out on Instagram to see what you all think I should blog about and I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of amazing responses you guys came up with! I plan on writing most of them, but I thought one in particular was a great place to start.
Making a mindfulness routine: where do you even begin?? Well since it’s such a huge topic to tackle, let’s separate this topic into a few different categories…
- What is Mindfulness and Why Should I Practice it?
- How do I do This?
- How do I Make This a Daily Practice?
What is Mindfulness and Why Should I Practice it?
First let’s begin with a basic introduction into what mindfulness is. Simply put, mindfulness is the practice of being present and, well, mindful. Even though there is a difference between them, I often use the practices “mindfulness” and “meditation” interchangeably. While meditation often involves clearing the mind and focusing on the breath, mindfulness encourages you to focus on a specific element (internal or external) in order to ease your mind. Although they have their differences, they are similar practices to reach the same end goal – to be more present and comfortable in your current environment. Whether that environment is physical or emotional, practicing mindfulness and meditation allows you to take a step back from the busyness of your life and focus attention on being truly present.
How do I do This?
So now you have a better idea of what mindfulness and meditation are, but how do you practice them? There are a multitude of different ways to practice both mindfulness and meditation so it’s important to experiment to find what works best for you. For example, I have a very busy brain so “emptying my mind” is not always the most affective method for me. I prefer to do a guided meditation which allows me to focus my attention on a voice guiding me through my practice. You can simply search for these on YouTube and select a video from a variety of different lengths and topics (I really like Louise Hay’s videos). Or you can check out some of the many different guided meditation apps out there (my favourite is Simple Habit).
Here are a few other ways to practice mindfulness and meditation in your everyday life:
- take a mindful walk
- pay attention to simple sensations (internal and external)
- eat mindfully
- step back and take a breath
- get to know a stranger
- exercise (without complaining)
- be with nature
- admire details of something insignificant
- focus on your breathing
- make a list of things you’re thankful for
- get off auto-pilot
- create something
- listen – like REALLY listen
- do a “loving-kindness” meditation
- get comfortable with discomfort
- change up your routine
- do yoga
- tune into your senses (see what you can experience with all five of them)
- sit and just be – whatever that looks like to you
**The Little Book of Mindfulness is one of my favourite resources for finding easy mindfulness techniques that you can practice daily**
How do I Make This a Daily Practice?
Okay so hopefully by now you know a little more about what mindfulness is and some ways to practice it, but how do you get in the habit of doing it daily? Like anything, creating this habit takes time. What’s important to remember is this: REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION! Get in the habit of meditating around the same time(s) each day. Maybe that means you wake up 10 minutes sooner or go to bed 20 minutes later in order to ensure you’ve taken the time you need to be mindful for the day. Another great way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine is by weaving it into your current routine. For example, instead of rushing through your meals, give yourself some extra time to think mindfully about each bite. Or try practicing your favourite mindfulness technique on your daily commute!
Here are some ways that I have found helpful to creating a mindfulness routine:
- Use the apps (and allow notifications): In my experience, many of the mindfulness apps out there are extremely helpful. Simple Habit, for example, allows you to download their guided meditations so you can listen to them anywhere without needing wifi or using your data. It also gives you the option to set a notification so it will remind you to meditate at a time that is convenient for you and your daily schedule.
- Set reminders on your phone: If you prefer not to use an app to meditate, you might still benefit from getting a notification on your phone! Simply program a reminder into your phone yourself and set it for a time that works for you.
- Make time: The key to creating a habit is repetition (yes, I’m saying it again because it’s very important). Choosing to make time for meditation is a conscious effort that requires practice and persistence. Like any new skill it will take time before daily mindfulness becomes second nature so don’t get discouraged if you miss a few days!
- Set goals (AND WRITE THEM DOWN): Maybe daily meditation isn’t your goal. Maybe it’s weekly, or monthly, or even just in times of stress! Regardless, I find it helpful to write down “meditate” right onto my daily (or weekly) to-do list. By including it into my schedule I feel more obliged (and successful) when I complete it. *if to-do lists aren’t your form of organization, try writing yourself a sticky note and leaving it somewhere you check daily (maybe your mirror?)*
- Do it when you think of it: The purpose of mindfulness is to experience the moment you’re living right now. So if in the middle of the day you become conscious of your desire to practice mindfulness, DO IT! Because after all, that’s the goal isn’t it? To be off auto-pilot long enough to remind yourself to be present. So if you think of it, stop what you’re doing and just pause. Take advantage of the moment you just gave yourself and be proud of the progress you’ve made!
I hope this brings you a new understanding of mindfulness and meditation and just how simple it can be to incorporate them into your daily life.