Research has proven that engaging in mindful exercises can decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as decrease the risk for several physical illnesses. And thus have made it my life's mission to convert everyone in my reach into a mindfulness regular. As a OCD Specialist, I cannot even keep track of the number of people who have expressed to me that meditation is not for them. So to them I say, try these tips and then tell me if you still feel the same way afterwards. Most of them do not, but not because I'm a witch with magical powers or anything like that. Mostly because throughout their lifetime all of these individuals have been given incorrect information or have formed incorrect assumptions about meditating.
There are several different ways to engage in meditation, throughout these tips I will be referring to the practice of mindfulness, which is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing ones awareness on the present moment.
Tip #1 - Reassess how long you're engaging in Mindfulness.
This first tip should be a juicy one. It’ll keep your readers with you.
One of the first things my clients tell me about why they dislike mindful exercises is because they cannot focus on nothing for 15 minutes. Gee, neither can I, guess we have that in common. And even if I am engaging in mindfulness correctly, 15 minutes is an extremely long time for a beginner. Mindfulness is a skill just like any other skill (crocheting, long distance running, cooking, etc) and takes practice to get better. I have never met anyone whose practiced running for 1 week be able to go and run a marathon.
Try engaging in a mindful exercise for 1 minute each day. Once you are comfortable with that you can start to increase the time by 1 minute at a time.
Tip #2 - Get out of your head.
The next most common reason I hear when talking to my clients is that they are not doing it right. Oh, honey boo boo child there is no right or wrong way to engage in mindfulness. If you are focusing on the present moment you are doing it right. If you realize you are not focusing on the present moment, acknowledge that your mind wandered (as it is programed to do) and then redirect your focus to the present moment again. YOU WILL HAVE TO REDIRECT YOUR MIND SEVERAL TIMES. And that's okay, expected actually. Just keep doing it until you do not have to anymore.
When engaging in mindfulness, try to acknowledge your mind wandering as many times as you need to without judgement.
Tip #3 - Combine Mindfulness with Other Activities.
Another reason some of my clients tell me they have troubles is because they have extremely busy schedules and cannot seem to find anywhere to fit mindfulness into their day. However, I am willing to bet there there is something you already do everyday that you can pair with your mindful exercise. Some of my favorite mindful exercises include mindful eating and walking. But you could essentially be mindful during any task, even brushing your teeth.
Try being mindful with an activity you already complete everyday without fail.
Tip #4 - Be Consistent.
No one is going to get better at a skill they do not practice regularly and you will not become a mindful professional after only 1 week of practicing. Think about the timeline that it takes for someone to learn how to read. Or an infant learning to walk. That is the type of time range we are looking at in this scenario.
Try engaging in mindfulness for at least 1 month everyday before making a conclusion.
Tip #5 - Keep Track of your Hard Work!
Many of my clients that gave up on mindfulness, did so because they were not seeing any benefit for their hard work. It can be tough to remember how something affected you a couple weeks after it happened, especially if the effect is subtle. Now let's add the negative lenses of depression or anxiety tricking us even more on top of that. With both of those factors in the mix, it can be difficult to identify any positives from any situation. If you have a notebook or something similar it could be helpful to jot some things down after a mindful exercise. Then once you have done this a few times, you could look back on your notes to remind you of you progress. For example if when you first started you could barely go 5 seconds without needing to redirect yourself and now you can go 30, it may not seem like much but that's progress. Go little rockstar.
Try briefly writing down how you feel after engaging in mindfulness so you can be reminded of your progress in hard moments.
Don't knock it until you have tried it :)
I challenged myself to try these same tips because I wanted experience the benefits and be able to attest to the power being mindful can have on individual. Comment below if anything on this list has worked for you!
Click the button below to try some of my favorite mini meditations.