Mindfulness practice allows you to slow down and create the space to check in with your mental health. The more often you practice taking these quiet moments, the more benefits you’ll experience. However, this can be easier said than done.
The hardest past of meditation is actually sticking to regular practice. To help you better integrate mindfulness into your routine, we’ve looked into the science behind habit formation. Below are some tips to help you develop your own regular mindfulness practice - and make it a habit!
1. Decide why
It can be really motivating to know why it is you want to meditate. The clearer you are about your reason for wanting to bring mindfulness meditation into your day to day routine, the more likely you are to stick with it.
2. Set achievable goals
Rather than saying “I will meditate everyday for the rest of my life”, try making short-term realistic goals, and adjust them to suit what’s happening in your life.
For example, you might plan what times you’ll set aside for meditation at the start of each week. Some weeks it might be to set aside a few minutes everyday, other weeks you might decide to do three longer meditations during the week. Allow for adjustment - remember, life happens, so don't beat yourself up!
3. Choose a regular time
In forming a habit it can be helpful to meditate at the same time of day each day. It might be first thing in the morning, on your lunch break or just before bed. Decide what works best for you, and try to stick to it.
It can be effective to ‘piggyback’ your meditation onto the back of an existing habit. For example, your morning routine may be to get up, have a shower, and eat some breakfast.
You could insert your meditation after your shower but before your breakfast, thereby making it a part of an existing routine.
NOTE: lots of people find themselves more successful at sticking to regular practice when they meditate first thing in the morning. Research shows that we have more willpower in the morning compared to the evening!
4. Find a space
Meditating in the same place each time can help it to sink in as a habit. Perhaps a comfortable chair you have in the living room, or a particular spot in your bedroom that is nice to sit – ideally somewhere that you feel comfortable and where won’t be disturbed.
That said, if you need to squeeze in your daily meditation on the train to work or in your parked car outside a meeting, that’s fine also. We want to remain flexible with our practice.
5. Pick a realistic length
Keep your meditation sessions to a length of time that feels comfortable - it’s always better to end a shorter session thinking you could have meditated for longer. The Smiling Mind App has lots of different length meditations you could try. We suggest starting with 5 or 10 minute meditations, and gradually increase the length of your sessions when you feel ready.
6. Create a challenge
Set yourself a ‘21 day challenge’ to help kick start your meditation habit. Research shows it takes 21 days to create a habit, and that’s why we created the 21 Night Sleep Program. Head to the app and try out night one this evening!
7. Identify your tendency
Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) has developed a fascinating study around maintaining habits. Her framework splits everyone into four unique ‘tendencies’, with each tendency preferring a particular approach to creating and maintaining a habit.
You can check out The Four Tendencies quiz here, and adjust your habit approach accordingly!
8. Be patient with yourself
Like any new skill, mindfulness takes practice - so don't expect to master it straight away! Remind yourself that the goal isn’t to stop your thoughts; the goal is to notice when you’ve been distracted by them and to gently return your attention to your breath. If the activity feels welcoming and enjoyable, you’ll be more likely to maintain it.
It’s not about getting it “right”, it’s about doing it consistently.
Learning to meditate can be challenging, but even the most challenging meditation sessions are still beneficial.
Ready to create your habit?
We thought you’d never ask!
The easiest way to start is to simply download the FREE Smiling Mind app. And give a mediation a go, what have you got to lose?