The Four Keys to Planning Your Mindfulness Practice
I hear it time and time again. “Dr. Marchand, I’m really struggling with meditation. I think I’m doing it wrong.” In response, I ask a very important question.
“Have you planned out your practice?”
Most beginning meditators don’t know that the key to meditation lies in a firm plan. There’s no right or wrong. However, change can’t be made if you don’t commit to meditating on a regular basis.
What would happen if you started a workout routine with no plan? You would probably hit the gym for a couple of weeks and then throw in the towel. However, if you worked out on a consistent basis, it would simply become part of the norm.
The same goes for meditation. The more you practice, the better you will become. You have to make it a part of your routine. Without a plan, you will get lost in the shuffle.
So just how do you formulate a plan for meditation? You break it down into four essential steps. And remember that feeling comfortable with meditation doesn’t come overnight. Like any new routine, it takes time.
Step One-Commit to your practice
Make a commitment to yourself to meditate every single day. Put it on your calendar. Consider it an appointment with yourself. Don’t cancel. Healthy habits form with structure.
Step Two-Schedule a regular time to practice
Scheduling your practice is essential. Think about what time in your schedule best works for you. There is no right or wrong answer. You can meditate at any time.
Many people meditate first thing in the morning or right before bed. You can even meditate on your lunch break. The key is to block out the time like you would for any appointment.
If you have young children, finding a time when they are asleep or at school is important. Also, let family members know the importance of your new routine and ask them not to disturb you during your practice.
Step Three-Designate a meditation spot
Pick a quiet place that you find calming. Is it a bedroom? An attic? A special garden spot? You can even designate several places to meditate.
Don’t obsess about finding a space with perfect peace and quiet. Nothing is ever perfect…even meditation. As you deepen your practice, you will begin to become mindful no matter what the surrounding circumstances.
That said, there are some places you may want to avoid. High traffic rooms like kitchens and living rooms can be make for a chaotic space. Pick a room that is generally serene.
Once you’ve found a spot, consider making it your own. You can add calming pictures of scenery, candles, and even incense. But this is not a mandate.
Step Four-Set an amount of time for your practice
Set a reasonable amount of time to meditate. Be gentle with yourself. You don’t want to sit for so long that you burn yourself out. You can begin with five to ten minutes and work your way up.
Remember to keep track of time. Set a timer on a cell phone so that you aren’t preoccupied with looking at a clock. Put the timer out of sight so that you won’t be tempted to keep looking at it.
Now it’s your turn…
If you’re new to meditation, take the next three days to plan out your routine. Then tune back in on Friday to discover the best kept secret of meditation (hint…it’s not what you think).
Happy planning! Enjoy the process.
To your mindfulness,
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