I am a big believer and proponent of practicing mindfulness every day. When we learn to be intentional in all of our actions, words, and thoughts, happiness follows. But mindfulness doesn’t simply happen. It takes effort. And as with learning anything in life, success comes more easily when we set ourselves up for success.
If one of your 2019 goals is to develop a meditation practice or to live more mindfully, you’re in the right place. So let’s talk about the little things you can do to set yourself up for success.
1. Create a Calming Space
Our lives are busy. It is often difficult to find space between work, family time, and all of our daily tasks to take a break and be present. There’s an old Zen Buddhist saying that goes, “you should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy. In that case, you should sit in meditation for one hour a day.”
If you’re new to meditation, though, even 20 minutes can feel like an eternity, so I recommend starting small. When your mind wanders, try not to feel discouraged, simply bring your mind back to presence and focus on your breath.
One way to make space to be mindful is to physically create a calming space. Find a small area of your home (even a corner of a room will do) to make your own, then add:
- A comfortable cushion or chair for sitting
- Scented candles or incense
- Pillows and blankets in colors that spark joy
- Books that inspire you
- Anything else that you envision as part of a calm space
Practice sitting in the space you have created and work to focus your mind on your breathing or an uplifting mantra such as “I am strong. I am beautiful. I am enough.” Having a physical space to serve as a daily retreat will make getting to a mental place of calm easier.
2. Set the Stage for Your Day
If you often wake up feeling panicked and stressed about everything you need to get done, consider how you can set yourself up to start out the day with a sense of calm. Can you go to bed earlier and wake up a bit earlier? Can you prepare lunches and pack school bags the night before, so you can grab everything as you’re walking out the door? Can you take pressure off yourself, by asking for help from family members to get themselves ready for their day?
Being organized for the day can go a long way toward feeling that sense of calm. But even the most organized people feel stressed when there is a lot to do. Even if your day is jam packed, if you make the effort to start the day doing something you really enjoy (like sitting in the calming space you created above), you can set the stage with positivity.
Here are some suggestions:
- Start your day with 20 minutes of journaling.
- Choose 5 of your favorite stretches to do as soon as your feet touch the floor.
- Get your heart pumping with 20 minutes or more of mindful movement.
- Sit in meditation and send yourself positive vibes that you can return to at any point during your day.
- Read a chapter or section of one of your favorite books.
3. Look for Mindfulness Moments
You can also set yourself up for success by playing a little game with yourself: throughout your day, look for moments to be mindful. When you’re sitting in a meeting, for example, and feel your thoughts starting to wander, instead of letting your mind simply drift about aimlessly, try to focus on what you’re grateful for.
Practicing gratitude helps us appreciate positivity in our lives and trains our attention on the good. So, looking for moments to remind ourselves of the little things we take for granted is a great way to pass the time.
Also, you can find a mindful moment while performing any task during your day, e.g, eating, showering, walking, or playing with your dog. Mindfulness simply means being present and fully participating in your life. As you go about your day, bring attention to the sensations in your body and practice engaging your senses fully at each moment.
When we strive to create any habit, mindfulness included, we’re more likely to achieve our goals by setting ourselves up for success. Remember that transformation doesn’t just happen. Living mindfully means looking for opportunities to be conscious and intentional in every moment.
Mindfulness puts the “conscious” in Conscious Strong™. What have you done to set yourself up to be more mindful in 2019?