deckNo matter how much we talk about it, read about it, or study it, putting a mindfulness practice into practice can be challenging. But what are we to do? Science continues to reveal that an active practice has important health benefits, relational benefits and even corporate benefits (increased productivity and reduced healthcare costs). Sometimes all we need is a simple road map to get us started or restarted if it’s been some time since we practiced.

Here are 5 essential elements to creating a mindfulness meditation practice in daily life.

Prepare Yourself

Before even attempting to do any practice it’s important to understand that your practice is not a performance. Each practice doesn’t need to be evaluated about whether it was a “good” meditation or a “bad” meditation. This performance-based mindset misses the point entirely. If there is any goal at all to the practice it’s simply to learn.

For example, if someone is using their breath as an object of attention, the goal is not to stay on the breath for a long period of time, it’s to learn about what it’s like to settle attention on the breath. If the mind wanders a lot, then you learn how busy the mind is. If it wanders a lot on a particular topic, you learn to what degree that topic is on your mind. If it is on your mind a lot you learn that whatever it is, it needs attending to and you can later make the choice to focus on it.

Everyone’s mind wanders, even people who have been meditating for 50 years. It’s part of what the brain does. In fact, you could make the argument that the more it wanders the more you have an opportunity to train the mind to see “choice points” to gently bring it back. What you practice and repeat becomes a habit and so you’re strengthening the habit of choice.

Here’s a short breathing practice from The Now Effect to get you started.

Bring Heart into It

There is sometimes confusion in how people teach mindfulness practice, but in the way that I’ve come to understand it is that it’s simply not as effective unless you’re bring your heart into it. The quality of attention has relaxed curiosity and tenderness to it. It’s as if we’re bowing with respect to the life being lived whether the attention is on the breath, the body, or any sense perceptions.

When there is pain involved, there is an awareness of the pain and the attention has this quality of wanting to be supportive in some way. It is a quality of care and self-compassion.

In other words, you’re doing this practice ultimately because you care about yourself and possibly because you know that doing this practice will also be a gift to those around you.

Forgive Yourself

You’re going to be completely imperfect at this like the rest of us. If time goes by and you forget to practice, practice “Forgive and Invite.” Forgive yourself for the time gone by, investigate what took you off course, and then in that space of awareness invite yourself to begin again.

This is a very forgiving practice; you can always begin to be present to your life again. It only takes a moment.

Thank Yourself

Perhaps even the most important part of this practice is to thank yourself each time you do it. When the time is up, you acknowledge yourself for making the effort to take time out of daily busy-ness for your own learning, health and well-being.

This imprints in your memory that you care enough about yourself to pay attention to you! That self-compassionate caring type of energy is healing. What would the days, weeks, and months ahead be like if you had more of that energy circulating through your mind and body?

Keep coming back to these four essential elements of a mindfulness practice.

Find a Buddy

You could do the previous four elements of practice on it’s own, but it sure helps when we have people to do it with. Maybe you know someone who has had the interest to start a practice or you go on meetup.com and check to see if there are any groups in your area. Or maybe you look at an app like Insight Timer that has worldwide online and in-person groups to check in with. Again, a buddy is not essential to start, but it can help you feel more connected to others who are aligned with this interest of yours. Ultimately that really helps motivation.

Now if you’re ready, carve out 10 minutes (on this link you’ll also find a 5-minute and 3-minute version of this), to start your practice with a body scan.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Couple meditating image available from Shutterstock.

 


Comments


View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 3 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.






    Last reviewed: 31 Oct 2013

APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2013). 5 Essential Elements to Starting Your Mindfulness Meditation Practice. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 15, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2013/10/5-essential-elements-to-starting-your-mindfulness-meditation-practice/

 

Mindfulness & Psychotherapy



Subscribe to this Blog:
Feed


Or Get a Single, Daily Email (enter email address):

via FeedBurner



Archives



Books and CDs by Dr. Elisha Goldstein:
Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind
The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change The Rest of Your Life

A Mindfulness-Based
Stress Reduction Workbook Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety and Depression
 

Subscribe to this Blog:
Feed


Or Get a Single, Daily Email (enter email address):

via FeedBurner



Recent Comments
  • HeidiHO: 7 years ago, after trying to kill myself in a blackout, I quit drinking and life began to take on a flavor...
  • SANY001: I truly enjoy and am inspired by your daily blog. Thank you.
  • penny: That was Brilliant. If one did not have good role models growing up you don’t learn good EQ. And this...
  • Margaret D. Sayers, Ph.D.: Love this post. Here are my thoughts on what children need: http://wkwutk.wordpress.com...
  • sharon and matt: My father is a Southern Baptist, my sister has two beautiful boys with her Jewish husband, I, Matt,...
Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!