Mindfulness Myths and How to Create a Mindfulness Practice You Will Actually Enjoy
One of the most important (and exciting!) things I’ve learned along my mindfulness journey is that
I can choose which mindfulness practices I do (or don’t) use.
When I first started practicing mindfulness, I felt like I should be doing certain practices, such as formal meditation and mindful eating. For some reason, I decided that without these practices, I wasn’t really being mindful enough.
I also believed mindfulness should be practiced exactly the same way each time. For example, my mindfulness practice originally consisted of breathing practices, yoga and mindful walking. If I didn’t do one of these practices, I felt like I had failed.
I’m not sure what led me to believe this, but I also felt like mindfulness should be practiced in the morning. If it rolled around to lunch time and I hadn’t done any of my mindfulness practices, I wrote off the afternoon and set a new intention to be mindful the following day.
It didn’t need to be this way! Here are a few myths about mindfulness I would like to clear up:
You must practice certain types of mindfulness in order to be truly mindful.
You should practice specific mindfulness at particular times of the day.
Mindfulness is inflexible, boring or not unique to the individual.
None of these myths are necessarily true! In fact, I would like to encourage you to experiment with your mindfulness practice to find out what truly resonates with you and suits your lifestyle. Once I decided to practice mindfulness in ways which work best for me (rather than sticking to the rules I thought a mindfulness practice required), I began to enjoy my mindfulness practice a whole lot more (which meant I began to practice more regularly, too!).
To create a mindfulness practice you can actually enjoy, discover which mindfulness practices you prefer, when it suits you to practice and how to live more mindfully, rather than having just a strict practice.
There are so many different mindfulness practices you can try! Try choosing practices which you think you might enjoy, then experiment to find out if they integrate well in your life. If it doesn’t work for you, try a different practice! There is no need to stick to one of two practices either- you can use as many as you like. In a day, I might do some mindful breathing, go for a mindful walk, listen to music mindfully, meditate, cook mindfully and regularly check in with my senses. Some mindfulness practices last for just a few seconds, which is ok, too! Every little effort counts.
Here are some ideas for mindfulness practices (click on them to discover more!):
Times of the day
Again, choosing when you practice mindfulness is completely up to you! If you feel rushed in the morning and would prefer to practice mindfulness during the day or at night, then do that. If you prefer to slow down in the morning and infuse mindfulness into that part of your day, go for it!
You might even prefer your mindfulness practice to be flexible; practicing in the afternoon and evening on weekdays and in the morning on weekends.
If you’re having trouble remembering to practice, try keeping a journal to stay on track. Being flexible is great, however it can also make your mindfulness practice intentions harder to remember and follow through on. Set yourself quality reminders or journal to make the most of your flexible mindfulness practice.
Live more mindfully in unique ways
Stop reading for a moment and think about the activities in your life. Do you listen to music? Practice yoga? Spend quality time with your pets, children, partner or family? Do you enjoy going for long walks in the park? Go to bed early and meditate? Cook dinner most nights? Commute to work?
All of these activities are potentially opportunities to be mindful!
Celebrate your individuality by bringing mindfulness into the unique aspects of your life. As you complete your activities, focus on the moment, let go of judgements about it (for example, it being a good or bad experience) and continue bringing you attention back when it wanders. Try tuning in to your senses regularly to soak up information about the present moment and simply be present as much as you can. For example, if you’re giving your child a hug, try to let go of your thoughts and experience that moment. If you’re listening to your friend talking at a coffee catch up, genuinely listen to what they’re saying.
Mindfulness isn’t complicated or confusing. It can simply be challenging to practice because we have such amazing capacities to reflect, plan ahead and multi-task. However, if you create an individual mindfulness practice which suits your lifestyle and which you actually enjoy, you will want to be practicing mindfulness more and more.