Some of us are finding ourselves spending much more time at home right now, which means we have more time to focus on beginning or continuing our embodiment, self-compassion, or mindfulness practice. Here are some tips to help you begin and sustain your practice:
Make sure you know why you are doing a particular practice and how it connects you with your sense of purpose and your personal values. If you’re not sure why you’re doing a practice, or you realize your motivation is to be a good meditator/practitioner, you might like to connect with why you want to be a good meditator/practitioner and what your desired outcomes are. Be clear on your practice goals and how they will help you.
See yourself in the future with more of the qualities you’re wanting to develop through your practice. Picture your life as a result of your practice – this will help you to do practices in the short term that will lead to more wellbeing in the long term.
The more simple a practice, the clearer your insight can be through your ongoing work. When we control variables like time and intensity, we can maximize our learning and safety.
Creating a ritual that delights your sense and invites you into a feeling of sacredness can help you to feel the specialness in your practice and connect you to soul and spirit.
Find a person or group who are doing the practice you want to be doing, and mirror them. We learn with and through others.
If you are already doing a practice that can be built on to, try building on. For example, if you’re already doing mindfulness meditation as a stillness practice, you might like to try mindfulness while moving in dance, yoga, or mindful walking.
Do your new practice when you have energy by prioritizing it at the start of the day or the end of the day when you know you won’t be distracted and your brain feels energized.
Give your system a rest or do something fun before or after doing your practice (e.g., put your journaling practice right after your daily walk if your walk is a restful reward in your day and puts you in calm state of mind). Your brain will learn to associate your new practice with an old enjoyable habit.
Engage in a practice that has been practiced through the generations so that you feel a connection to a lineage of practitioners in an age-old wisdom tradition. Continue this lineage by connecting with people who are currently practicing in the same tradition.
Make your new practice fun by doing things like buying yourself a novelty pen for your journaling or self-study practice, or adding in some humorous songs to a music appreciation practice.
Do your new practice in small chunks so that your brain has a good chance at feeling success rather than setting yourself large goals that might disappoint you.
Find a way to practice that is satisfactory rather than expecting it to be perfect or optimal. Calm that inner perfectionist!
Practice simple self-compassion practices when you have space and time so that you have them in your toolkit for the heat of the moment during your day, when you really need them.
Neurons that fire together wire together. Our practice can only yield results when we repeat it regularly to allow for new habits to form and for the state we’re cultivating in practice to begin to seep into our daily life as a new trait.
Take time after your practice to allow an embodied reflection of your practice: simply sit with yourself and allow any insights to emerge organically. After an embodied reflection, some written reflection may feel supportive for your ongoing learning as well.
Adapted from material by Mark Walsh in Embodiment – Moving Beyond Mindfulness, and Loretta Graziano Breuning in Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, and Endorphin Levels
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