Making Mindfulness Meditation Habit By Shannon Moule, Clinical Psychologist, Zest Infusion

Christina ReynoldsPsychology, Self-Compassion

I come to write this article to share a struggle I and countless others find when they start to practice mindfulness meditation – making it habit. For the past 12 months I have wanted to make mindfulness meditation a regular practice. I am not quite where I want to be as yet, but I have made significant gains. Below are 5 motivational tips that have helped me and others make mindfulness meditation a life long habit.

#Tip 1: Know why you’re doing it and remind yourself regularly

What do you hope to achieve by making mindfulness meditation a regular practice? For me, it is about improving my emotional and mental wellbeing. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to help people:

¥ struggle less with emotional, mental (thoughts, memories, beliefs) and physical pain
¥ Improve connections with friends and family
¥ decrease impact of challenging times by increasing resilience
¥ quieten the busy mind
¥ increase your ability to focus without being constantly distracted by your mind

With your answer to the first question ask yourself this – What makes this reason important to you? For me, it is about what having a good emotional and mental health allows me. It allows me to be more engaged in my life, build healthier relationships and resilience against challenges in my life.

#Tip 2: Be realistic

Is your goal realistic? Often the reason we haven’t achieved a regular mindfulness meditation practice is because we haven’t set a realistic goal. I am guilty of this myself. My original goal was to practice a guided meditation 10 minutes every day. Sounds simple enough, but one I consistently failed to achieve. Rather than continuing to strive for this goal I decided to revise it. When I revised my goal I used the following tip, setting SMART goals:

Specific – be as detailed as possible (when, where, how)
Measurable – when will you know you’ve achieved your goal
Achievable – do I have the skills required to achieve it or do I need to practice or read up on it?Realistic – considering all the priorities I have in my life at the moment, is this something I can achieve right now?
Timely – when will I do it, how long for

My new SMART goal was to do a 5 minute meditation 3 times per week at the gym after my workout. Something I have managed to achieve.

#Tip 3: Be kind to yourself

You are going to fail, this is a given (harsh I know). It is how we respond to our failings that helps us to rise again. When you fail, respond with kindness and curiosity. I have failed time and time again over the past 6 months and when I do, I have at times been my own worst enemy. I have met my failure to achieve regular mindfulness meditation practice with judgement: “Why can’t you do this?”, “What’s wrong with you?”, “Other people can do this, why can’t you!” This harsh inner critic goes off when I fail and instead of helping me get back on track it keeps me stuck when I let it.

What about you? How do you respond when you fail? If you have a harsh inner critic like me, try kindness instead. To help you respond with more kindness think of how you would treat a friend who tells you about their failure. I’d imagine you would show them understanding, acknowledge that it’s hard, and provide support to him/her to get them back on track; you wouldn’t berate them for their temporary shortcomings. Be your own best friend – listen to understand, acknowledge that failing is a human condition, and show kindness.

#Tip 4: Get support

Power in numbers! Doing it on your own can be tough. Join an online meditation group, local meditation class, or get together at home with your family or friends to practice. I recently partook in a program called Mindful in May and I am currently doing their spinoff program Mind Life. These programs have assisted me in keeping on track with my goal.

Here at Zest Infusion we run monthly meditation groups and other mindfulness meditation programs to help people learn and develop their meditation practice, click on this link to find out more

Our psychologists can also assist you with individual sessions to develop your mindfulness meditation practice. Call to make a booking today on 3822 9983.

#Tip 5: Think outside the box

Mindfulness meditation is not just the sit down version where you listen to someone guide you through a meditation practice, there are other non-meditative techniques you can use to help build your mindful practice. One such non-meditative technique is to use your 5 senses (see, touch, taste, smell, and hear) to connect with your experiences in the present. Click on the following link to read up about other non-meditative techniques you can use–_Russ_Harris_–_HCPJ_Oct_09.pdf

I find regularly choosing to partake in non-meditative techniques has greatly assisted in cultivating my mindfulness practice despite not regularly engaging in guided meditation practices. You too might find these techniques more easier to fit in to your day to make mindfulness more of a habit, therefore complimenting your meditation practice.

I do hope the above tips have assisted in some way to help you with your mindfulness meditation practice as they have done mine. Take care!

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