Mindfulness. Can it be Habit-Forming?
(Read this in about three and a half minutes)“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” ~ Carl Jung
I’ve written quite a bit about habits and how they shape our thinking, which shapes our choices, which shape our actions, which ultimately shape our life. Yep, you called it. I can be a nag. But every word is true, good habits are essential to living a life that is well aligned with our worthy values, the things that matter most to each of us. Habits help us to do “the next right thing” repeatedly, almost on auto-pilot with virtually no conscious thought involved. Awesome, right? Habits remove a lot of the heavy lifting involved in making good decisions when all those pesky choices greet us at every turn.
So how does all this buzz about mindfulness square with habit building? We’re supposed to be present in the moment and operate in cruise control simultaneously? Isn’t that like trying to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time? Before you stress out and think I’m sending you shopping for a meditation cushion and incense, I’d like a chance to explain that the two processes can live together quite happily.
It’s entirely possible to develop a habit of tuning into to the present moment. It becomes a process of practicing the pause on a regular basis during your overscheduled day. I can hear your eyes rolling as you think, “that’s all I need, another item on my to-do list!” I feel your frenzy, my friend, but this is something that takes less time than you think and will actually result in getting through that list better and faster because you will have a fresher mind. Think of it as a reboot, a control-alt-delete in your day to clear the cache of tangled thoughts competing for front row seating in your busy brain.
Habits guru Gretchen Rubin created a list she calls “Secrets of Adulthood” and here’s a sweet one; “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” That means focusing on the moment for even 5 minutes a day trumps doing it for 30 minutes once a week. And there’s far less risk of falling asleep because your body thinks, “Hey, she stopped! Must be time for a siesta!” (I’ve been in your socks.)
It comes down to intentionally training ourselves to put it in cruise for a few minutes and smell the roses or look at the sunset or pet the dog or feel yourself breathe, or whatever thought makes sense to you. Create a trigger which tells you to pause, for example, when you stick your hands in the warm soapy dishwater it’s time to stop for a few and just think. When we read about the practice of meditation the key word is “practice”. Research has proved that this can actually change our brain! Think of it as a kind of little “bliss boot camp” where we can learn to lengthen our fuse which can get pretty short when we’re stressed! Repetition is the key to training our mind and internalizing this process. Over time it can help with both problem solving and personal relationships.
You do not rise to the occasion; you sink to the level of your training.~Dave Grossman
As you learn to calm and center yourself, even briefly, you are developing capabilities that can be beautifully applied to everyday living. As you develop the ability to switch your brain into “low gear”, you may find you can respond more calmly and compassionately in situations that might have been very difficult before. That critical skill of allowing even a small space between what happens and how we respond is a huge factor in living a life of greater satisfaction, meaning and purpose.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~ Victor Frankl
Our system, Worthy Values First, offers many benefits to help you live each day to the fullest, aligned with the things that will provide you with greater fulfillment and satisfaction in your life. Please accept our invitation to subscribe to our website. Twice a week you’ll receive fresh encouragement and motivation in your inbox to help you along the path to living the life you’ve dreamed of. We hope you’ll join us!