Here are 7 Tips to Start a Daily Mindfulness Practice:
(If you haven’t already joined our Free 30 Day Meditation Challenge, check it out HERE!)
1. Make it a Priority.
To start a daily mindfulness practice, you need to make a commitment to sit for at least five minutes a day. Put away all distractions, don’t multitask while meditating – that defeats the purpose. Remember, it’s just five minutes a day. Don’t make excuses, just find five minutes a day and make it happen!
One thing that can help to make it a priority is to write down your intention. Research shows you’re more likely to follow through on a goal if you write it down and if you connect with your deeper “Why”. Why are you doing this, and what are you hoping to get out of it? Get out a piece of paper and write this down:
I Commit to five minutes of mindfulness every day for 30 days to create more xxx in my life.
(fill in your own desired result for xxx)
Next, think about what systems you’ll need in place to make this a priority.
Is it telling your partner not to disturb you the first five minutes of every day? Asking a friend to join you in the Meditation Challenge and be your accountability buddy? Setting aside time by blocking your calendar or having an alarm on your phone to remind you to listen to the meditations? Or, if you have little ones, putting them in front of a cartoon like Caitlin did;
“It’s so hard to find time for myself with a 1 year old and 3 year old who wake me up bright and early each day but I got them set up downstairs with their breakfast and a cartoon and came back into my room upstairs to do this. I found it wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting and actually went by very quickly. Thank you!”
– Caitlin Rives Hatzenbuhler
2. Create Sacred Space.
Decide where you’re going to meditate each day and create an inviting, cozy space for yourself. This could be setting up your favorite soft blanket or a candle in the corner of your bedroom, or simply deciding you’ll do the meditations while lying in bed each morning. Wherever it is, make it an inviting space. See yourself in a golden bubble of light while, for example, sitting in a chair listening to the meditation. Imagine yourself sitting down to meditate in this sacred space each morning for the next month. This is called “future pacing” and it makes you more likely to follow through on something if you can see (feel, hear, or smell) yourself doing something in the future.
3. Pick a WHEN.
In addition to creating Sacred Space and choosing a “Where,” you also need to choose “When” you want to meditate each day. You’ll be more successful if you choose the same time each day and build it into your routine. I recommend doing it first thing in the morning, as research shows this is when your willpower is strongest and it’s also when your mind is clear and in a rested state. Obviously, life happens. Sometimes you’ll end up meditating at a different time. But your baseline should be a time you choose in advance that you’ll stick to as often as possible. If you’re meditating in the evening before bed and struggle with falling asleep during the meditation, you may want to try meditating in the morning or during your lunch break when you’re less sleepy.
4. Replace Bad Habits with Good.
Creating a Ritual around this new habit or practice is an excellent way to make it stick. One of the best ways to create a new habit, according to research, is to replace an old habit with a new one. Do you check your phone first thing in the morning? If so, how does that make you feel? If you’re like most people, it makes you feel anxious and stressed out, thinking about all the things you have to do that day and all the demands other people are placing on you. Instead, start your day with a new habit by creating a Morning Ritual. At night, before you go to bed, put a full glass of water on your nightstand. When you wake up in the morning, the glass of water is a visual reminder of your Morning Ritual. You drink the water and spend five minutes meditating before checking your phone or doing anything else.
This simple Morning Ritual will change the entire tone of your day because you’re starting the day with your needs and priorities, versus responding to everyone else’s demands. You’re taking care of your body by hydrating, and taking care of your mind by meditating. And you’re being proactive rather than reactive. This will help you stay grounded and focused on what really matters to you for the rest of the day.
You’ll be amazed at what making this one simple change will do. So remember – don’t check your phone or read the news when you wake up. Instead, drink a glass of water and meditate first thing in the morning.
5. Don’t Go It Alone.
Get support. Ask a friend, family member or colleague to join you in the Meditation Challenge (simply share this link: https://vanessaloder.com/30-day-challenge) It’s much easier to stick to a new habit if you have a friend or colleague doing it with you – it’s like having a workout buddy at the gym, only it’s a meditation buddy. You can also join our buddy system, be part of the community, and leave a comment on the page after you meditate. It may feel silly to make a comment after meditating, but the more you engage, the more you’ll get out of it. Having a Buddy who is going through the challenge with you is one of the best ways to get support. There is a percentage of the population that really needs group support to follow through on things, if this is you, definitely invite a friend to join you or sign up for a buddy, participate in the community, tell your friend, your mom, or your great-uncle to check in and see how you’re doing. Get the support you need to make this a priority.
6. Let Go of Expectations.
A lot of people get discouraged when they first meditate and think they’re doing it “wrong.” If you’re having a hard time sitting still or quieting your mind, remember this is NORMAL. Cut yourself some slack. Lower the bar. Let go of all expectations and you’ll find this much more enjoyable. If you have a hard time staying focused on your breath, or you miss a day of meditating (or two, or five), it’s ok. Simply get back on track with the next day’s meditation. See if you can observe rather than judge yourself. There is no “right” way to meditate.
The key is to always come back to your breath and to the point of view of the Observer. Imagine you’re sitting in a theatre watching the movie of your life unfold. Let’s say your name is Sarah. You’re having a hard time concentrating. Instead of believing your mind chatter saying; “oh, I stink at this! I’m not a good meditator, I’m constantly distracted!” go up a level to the balcony seats of the theatre in your own mind, and become the Observer. Look down at Sarah, trying to meditate, feeling frustrated and observe her with curiosity; “Wow, isn’t that fascinating, look at Sarah beating herself up, believing she’s not a good meditator, how interesting, she’s creating a lot of drama about this whole meditation thing.” Imagine you’re watching yourself. As soon as you pop up to the observer level, you create space between you and your thoughts and beliefs. This is the practice. Be the Observer, get curious instead of judging, and you’ll find this much easier and more enjoyable!
7. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Did I mention…Be kind to yourself?
This bears repeating because it isn’t easy or natural for most of us. My new favorite self-compassion tool is this: Whenever you start beating yourself up about how you suck at meditating, try telling yourself; “I’m just a little bunny, working through my issues, trying something new.” Forgive yourself and move on. Research shows being kind to yourself actually BOOSTS your willpower! So don’t beat yourself up if you’re not meditating “right”. Any effort is worth a HUGE pat on the back! The fact that you even showed up means you earned a gold star. 🙂 Be kind to yourself, give yourself a gold star for even attempting this, and when you notice you’re being unkind to yourself, say; “I’m just a little bunny, doing my best,” and move on.
Bonus Tip: Connect with your deeper WHY.
To really turbo-charge your practice, see if you can connect to deeper emotions and find your deeper why. Why are you doing this? What do you hope to get out of it?
If you’re forcing yourself to meditate because you “should,” it’s gonna be a slog.
There’s tons of research on the benefits of meditation, but why, specifically, are you doing it? If you can find a deeper why (for example, “I want to be more present with my young kids rather than having my mind wander to all the errands I have to run.” Or “I want to be more focused at work instead of feeling constantly pulled in a million different directions.”), and see yourself achieving this new desired state, you’re more likely to follow through. This will help motivate you.
When you connect with a deeper motivation, it’s easy peasy to stay on track.
Go big with your questions, ask yourself; “hmm, what will my Soul get out of this?” Remember the intention from Step 1? What is your deeper desired result? What’s your xxx in the sentence below?;
I Commit to five minutes of mindfulness every day for 30 days to create more xxx in my life.
(fill in your own desired result for xxx)
Stay true to xxx, and you can’t go wrong!
Happy Meditating!!! Let me know in the comments below if you found these tips helpful, or any other questions you have about starting a daily mindfulness practice.
Including meditation in my daily routine today; and the tips will be helpful to get me started to achieve my WHY.
Such an important step and decision in your life Lou. So happy you are giving to yourself in this way.
I’m with Joan, this was very helpful!
Loved #6 – returning to breath & taking position of curious observer vs judge.
Looking forward to beginning!
Yes! #6 is so important! Thank you for sharing Aileen!
Very helpful! I’ve tried to fit meditation in my life but couldn’t be consistent with it. I am happy I found you so I can try again!
Oh so glad you are here to try this out then! Can’t wait to hear all the benefits that come to you!
Marvellous tips and super generous of you to share it freely. Thank you
I have a small request – I would love the article even more if you could remove the word ‘spaz’ so it is not normalised as an acceptable slur. Cambridge dictionary defines spaz as: (short for “spastic”) an offensive way of referring to someone who has cerebral palsy (a condition of the body that makes it difficult to control the muscles).
I know you didn’t intend to use the word that way but, because of its history, it’s best to steer clear of using it.
Thank you again for the wonderful article 🙂
We have updated the language. Thank you!
So glad you enjoyed the article.
I love the idea of putting a glass of water beside the bed. A visual way to start the day taking care of me.
Yes Nina! It’s the small action/trigger before to remind you what you want to do in the morning and who you want to be. I hope it assists you!
I found the tips extremely helpful and am eager to begin my meditation journey!
Oh so great to hear this Jane!! Happy to have you on this journey!
Absolutely Karen!! Thank you!
Hello, my name is Sarah. I listen to you all the time on insight timer and just started to look through at other things you do. I came across this 30 day challenge just now…WHAT, how have I not known about this before lol. So excited to receive my meditations each day. I find you so inspiring and a really down to earth person. Thank you Vanessa for helping so many people make this world a better place. Namaste.
Aw Sarah!! I’m so very glad you found the challenge. You got this! I’m so grateful for your words and hope you enjoy the daily meditations. Stay in touch in the comments!
These tips are very helpful thank you.
Thanks for the insight. Hope my family and I can feel better by your mindful meditations.
Baharak and family
Thanks so much Baharak!
I’m so glad you and your family have the meditations and can feel better.
Grateful you are in this amazing community!
I am so excited to start mindfulness mediation. My mind feels so cluttered that I must do something to extra a safe place within myself. So tomorrow morning I will have my water and then start day 1 of mindfulness. Thank you for this information.
Welcome Tiara! I’m excited that you’re so excited to start a mindfulness practice. 🙂 You’ll be amazed how good it feels to drink a big glass of water and spend 5 minutes in quiet each morning. Enjoy!
This is the first time I’ve googled ‘how to do mindfulness and meditation’ and your instructions have got me feeling optimistic about it. My 30 days starts today (after I wake up and have my H20). 🛏 💧 🧘♀️
That is so great Nancy! I’m SO excited for you to try this out! Be sure to let me know how it’s going!
great informtion, my mind fills fuller already..
aww, thank you LaShelle. I’m so happy to hear that.
I’m 72 very active and I’m an accountant. I’ve reduced my practice down to 4 clients. Today is typical of what I experience when I have no set plan with friends or appointment schedule. I’m anxious,restless, and want to cry. So I take an anxiety pill to calm down. Even out shopping with friends if I’m done, ok what’s next. I want to enjoy peace.
Linda, I completely relate to what you shared. The emptiness of no-thingness can feel so scary and induce anxiety. Sometimes, it’s because we’re keeping ourselves busy to avoid feeling our feelings. Other times, it’s that the unknown itself feels scary. I think the CWYL Program would support you in moving through this. We have lots of women who are nearing retirement or wanting to stay active in new ways take our Create Work You Love program to help figure out what you need to feel calm and clear moving forward. You can join the early bird list to be notified when registration opens here: https://vanessaloder.com/cwyl-registration-signup Also, deep breathing can be a very effective way to deal with anxiety. The next time you have no set plan, see if you can just feel your feelings, even if it’s just for 30 seconds, while breathing deeply (inhale to the count of 3, exhale to the count of 6 to activate your parasympathetic nervous system). Let us know how it goes!
Thank you for this excellent article. Mindfulness changed my life and I finally can understand a little bit of how my mind works.
I’m so excited to begin!! My sister will be my helper. I’m just becoming an empty nester of 5! But work full time! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to experience this WHOLE NEW WORLD!!!
Very very helpful tops!
Great! Glad to hear it Laurie.
Thank you Vanessa. I’m grateful for you and your guidelines for meditating, especially the thought you shared, “I’m just a little bunny working through my issues.”
Thanks Linda! I’m glad you found it helpful, I use that line about “I’m just a little bunny working through my issues” all the time and find it such a helpful and quick tool. 🙂
Thanks for the valuable insights Vanessa!
You’re so welcome Noor! I’m glad you’re here.
These tips are very helpful to me, my son has been meditating for a while and has gotten me on the band wagon, so to speak. I had no experience with “Sitting” and found it difficult to quiet my mind and lack of patience. I’m about to do my first 5 minute meditation. I have commited to 30 days of Serenity in my life!!
Congrats on starting a meditation practice Bridget! How wonderful that your son got you on board. 🙂 Let us know how it goes, you’ve GOT this.
Thanks for the tips. I’m looking forward to starting the 30 days. I haven’t been good at kicking it off the last couple of days but hoping to get more in schedule soon.
You’ve got this Luanne!! 🙂
Can’t wait to start tomorrow, I’ve fallen off the wagon on meditating, I use to do it every night before bed, I’ve noticed a big difference with my anxiety because of not doing it like I use too, this is going to get me back in track again, thank you for the opportunity😊
Welcome back on the wagon Kristy! Let us know what you notice with your anxiety as you start meditating again. Thanks for being here. 🙂
Your tips were fantastic. I try to meditate every morning for 15 minutes. I find that when I do I have more peace in my day and in my life.
Thanks Sandy! How wonderful that you try to meditate for 15 minutes every morning. I completely agree with having more peace in my day when I do make the time to meditate in the morning. Thanks for sharing.
Can’t wait to start my meditation, tomorrow
Excited to have you start too!
I am looking forward to this meditation challenge. I meditate before bedtime for relaxation and it has helped me fall right to sleep.
We’re so glad you’re here Sally! Thanks for joining us.
I am late starting this challenge but i am very grateful i found it. I am looking forward to incorporating this in my daily routine.
Welcome Stephanie, we’re so glad you’re here 🙂
excellent article – very good tips.
Thank You. .you are magnifying Your magnifence. .keep up the wonderful work and keep sharing your
Thank you Maryann.
I have been wanting to learn how to do this for a long time. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.
I’m so glad you’re here Nancy! Let us know how it goes. 🙂
Thank you so much! I am ready!
Thank you so much!
These tips were very helpful and reassuring as well. I am ready to go.
Yay! Go Jodi Go. 🙂
I believe in all you written above, and, cant wait to start being a real actor in this new way of knowing who I am and where I am going. I am ready!
Thanks Nicole! I can’t wait for you to be the real actor in this way of knowing and being too. YAY!
Awesome tips! Day one was great!
Glad you enjoyed the tips and Day one Neeraj! Thanks.
I am excited to be part of the challenge!
I’m excited you’re part of it too! Thanks for joining.
I can’t wait to start the meditation challenge! I feel more relaxed already just thinking about it!
Yay! I’m so glad you’re joining us Chandrelia. I can’t wait for it to start either 🙂
Thank you for sharing this ritual! Love it 😍 🙏👌🏼