Imagine if meditating was as habitual for you as brushing your teeth? It’s possible! There was a time when no one brushed their teeth. Read this if you’re struggling with that.
As a little aside, some of you may question if it’s right to make mindfulness into a habit anyway. If it was a habit, then is it a good thing? Surely we are trying to go away from autopilot and live more consciously. If so, we don’t want to make meditation yet another habit, do we?
I used to believe that too. I thought ‘No, I don’t want to cultivate habits. I want to live every moment consciously rather than automatically.’ But the reality is, humans have very little willpower. If we stop to make conscious decisions every moment, our poor brains get tired very quickly and then, no matter how hard we try, we end up flopping into eating too many donuts or watching hours of YouTube/TV/Social Media.
So whether we like it or not, much of our day is going to be determined by our habits. And we can use the little bit of willpower we do have everyday to cultivate a new, very small positive habit.
So, just as reading this blog may be a habit for you (a very good one by the way, congratulations on a fabulous choice!), so you can make being mindful or stopping to meditate into a habit too.
If mindfulness is not a habitual practice for you, you’d have to:
A. Remember to actually practice mindfulness (easy to forget)
B. Decide how to be mindful and what to be mindful of (decisions use up precious brain energy)
C. Have the motivation to practice (motivation fluctuates from moment to moment)
D. Finally, actually be mindful!
In other words, you’d forget or lack the motivation and it wouldn’t happen consistently.
If mindfulness is a habit, you wake up, do some regular morning activities, and then meditate. It’s in your routine. Cultivating greater awareness becomes something you just do. And with that cornerstone habit, you can live more consciously throughout the day. You can be more mindful in other activities too.
Cultivating greater awareness becomes something you just do. And with that cornerstone habit, you can live more consciously throughout the day.
With each day that arises you can take a few moment to reflect on how else you’ll make mindfulness into a habit and keep growing in mindfulness.
I’m going to share with you my own personal 5 habits that help me to be more mindful everyday. Perhaps you can mindfully try some of these in your own life too:
1. Mindful Meditation EVERY morning
After I wake up and go to the bathroom to do my business in there, I get back into bed, sit up and meditate. I’ve been doing this for many years.
However, I’ve always had some weeks or months in the year when I’m not motivated to meditate.
Now I have a better solution that’s been working very well. I meditate at the same time, after getting back into bed, everyday. And if I don’t feel like it, I just meditate for 3 breaths as a minimum. And that works wonders. I don’t feel bad for missing my meditation and know the 3 breaths will soon turn back into something more substantial when I feel up to it. And it always does. Usually 3 breaths immediately turns to 5-10 minutes. And that’s because feeling 3 mindful breaths feels so good, I want some more of that!
How to Start: Take 3 deep conscious breaths after one of your daily morning routines. Be clear at exactly which part of your routine you’ll do your meditation. Finish with a smile which is a nice reward for your body and mind - it’ll reinforce the habit.
2. Walking for Wisdom
I go for a walk every morning. This is a newer habit I’ve been doing for about 30 days or so. It’s actually freezing cold and winter here in London so I’m impressed I’m managing this. The way I did it was simple. As soon as I go downstairs, I put on my trainers (sneakers for our US friends). Having done that, I almost always feel like going outside for a walk. I now love it if I manage to wake up early enough so most people are still sleeping, the roads are quiet and the stars and moon are out. Such a wonderful time of day to go for a mindful walk. I reflect on both my surroundings, how yesterday went and how I hope the day to go - my intentions. This morning I was lucky enough to see the beautiful pink sky as the sun was rising behind the rows of houses.
How to start: Put on your walking shoes as soon as you come downstairs. That’s it to begin with!
3. Joyful Journaling
I journal on a google doc everyday on my computer. This is a great way to stop and reflect on how things are going and an easy way to keep a record. The only problem for many of you would be the distractions of writing on a computer. Journaling in a notepad or dedicated journal is probably even better. I think the break from looking at screens is nice, and it’s something I may switch to doing in the future.
I’ve been journaling for many years, so will share more tips on mindful journaling in future posts.
How to start: Place a journal next to your bed.
4. Self-Control Silence
As soon as I open my laptop in the morning, I switch on the Self-Control app on my laptop everyday. It’s a free app and it’s changed my life. Well, my laptop life anyway. It can block the sites that are distracting for me. I usually block all social media, YouTube and my emails. Then I can be really mindful and focus on working on just one thing 100%. That’s single tasking. This morning I’ve been blocked out of social media for the last 2 hours - nice!
How to start: Download the app and switch it on first thing in the morning.
5. Cool & Calm Under Pressure
When the pressure is on and I have a lot of work to get done on a tight schedule, I do something unusual and it’s become a habit. I consciously slow down rather than working faster. I stop for more breaks. And in particular, I walk more slowly to wherever I need to get to. And I really try and connect with my senses and with the momentarily experiences. I think I’ve rushed a lot in the past, and made too many mistakes along the way.
When my mind is running too fast, by consciously walking slowly, my mind slows down, I make less mistakes and stay calmer under the pressure.
How to start: Walk slower than usual when feeling stressed and running late. Just accept you’re late, because you are! Slow down to speed up.
How do you put mindfulness into your daily routine? I would love to hear and respond to your ideas - let’s chat in the comments below!
If you’d like to learn more about my approach of combining mindfulness with kindness, consider my free 7 day course. Or my full 8 week program which is currently on sale - includes 60 mini daily videos and over 15 guided kindfulness audio meditations to try.
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