Whether it be losing weight, playing the piano, rock climbing, learning Russian or learning to fly an aeroplane, the best way to improve any skill is to integrate the practice of it into your daily routine. The same rule applies to developing a mindfulness practice. So often our LUME coaches are asked, “When is the best time to meditate?”, “How long should I meditate for?”, “Where should I do my practice?”, “How should I sit?”. The answer to all of the above questions is, “Whatever works best for you!”

This answer is inconvenient to us humans as it means that we have to try different things out and, through trial and error, evaluate which one delivers the best results for us and then trust our judgement of our experience. Oh, how much easier it would be if someone just told us exactly what to do and how to do it! Of course we can make suggestions, but the best coaches are not the ones who dictate and enforce dogma, but instead encourage curiosity, awareness and trust in their student’s ability to discern what works best for them.

With all that said, there are some very helpful life hacks that we can all use to cultivate a meditation routine.

Here are our top 5 tips for making sure you get your daily mindfulness fix:

  1. Get Clear

The first thing to do is to get clear on what type of meditation you are going to practice and when and where you are going to do it. One of the most effective ways to stick to a new habit, and to minimise any feelings of overwhelm, is to make all possible decisions beforehand. The human brain has a finite decision-making capacity and we recommend saving your quota for all the important decisions you have to make throughout the day, we don’t want to get “decision fatigue.” So whether it be the body scan, a self-kindness practice or a breath-focused practice, make a single decision about which mindfulness practice you are going to focus on for that week, month or year.

Then make one single decision about when you are going to do your practice; first thing in the morning before even brushing your teeth, on the commuter train, when you get home for work or just before going to bed. Then put it in your diary.

Finally, choose where you are going to do it, preferably somewhere where you won’t be disturbed; in bed, in your armchair, on the sofa, on the train, in your office. Try and keep all of these variables intact for at least the first month of developing your mindfulness habit.

2. Accountability

Accountability is a super effective way of making sure you stick to your habits, especially in the beginning when they feel inconvenient and uncomfortable. There are several options for creating accountability around your new mindfulness habit:

  • Get an accountability buddy: someone who is trying to cultivate a mindfulness practice too and check in with each other every day to make sure you’re sticking to your routine. This also works well because the more you stick to your practice, the more likely your buddy is to stick to their practice. Mutual success is achieved by you both sticking to your commitment!
  • Use an app: most meditation apps now have a tracking and reward function which logs how many consecutive days you log onto the app and how many minutes you have meditated for in total. They often provide you and your friends with some kind of reward if you achieve a targeted number of consecutive days. This type of accountability and reward system is very effective in establishing and reinforcing a routine.
  • Habit Trackers: You can either download our simple pen & paper meditation tracker that you can tick off daily or you can download one of the many habit tracking apps available. Not only does seeing a certain number of ticks or completed entries appeal to our competitive streak, but on apps like Stickk you can set financial incentives that automatically action themselves depending on whether you achieve your meditation habit. You can set the parameters of your commitment (i.e. “I will meditate for 20 minutes every day for the next 30 days”) and the app will decide what to do depending on your entries, donating to a friend, foe, charity or anticharity (a cause that you don’t like). These apps are a great way to increase the stakes on your commitment!

3. Community

Meditating in a group is a pretty special experience and it adds a community aspect to your practice that many people find very fulfilling. In London, there are hundreds of group meditation sessions and it will take some trial and error to find one that resonates with you. Some of our favourites are The LUME Club, Meditate & Mingle, West London Buddhist Centre and The Mindfulness Project.

4. Apps

As mentioned above, there are lots of excellent meditation apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone, that combine the community, accountability and clarity points. They all offer a range of guided meditations, as well as timers for silent, self-guided practices. Some great ones are Headpsace, Calm, Insight Timer and 10% Happier. Again, it’s all about trying them and discovering your personal preference.

5. Self Compassion

Creating any new habit is a challenge and it is so important to be kind to yourself in this process. You negate many of the benefits of a mindfulness practice if you beat yourself up for missing a day or two. Life happens and things can get in the way, it’s all part of living this perfectly imperfect human life. Try and be patient and compassionate with yourself. The practice is about how quickly you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on track.

 

Happy Meditating!