Mindfulness practice & habit

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

In recent conversations on mindfulness, two of the key reasons why people say that they do not practice mindfulness, is they either do not have the time to practice or if they start to practice, the practice falls off. They then go into a negative cycle of recriminations.

Time: The first set of questions people have is, “ How do you make the time?” “I can not make the time to practice”, “Does it take a long time to practice? I heard you have to do it for 30 minutes a day?”

The latest research shows that you do not have to sit for 30 to 40 minutes a day to start to gain the benefits. I don’t think any of us can spend up to 40 minutes just sitting in meditation every day. Even sessions as short as 3 minutes have been found to work. The key is to do the sessions spread out during the day. A short session in the morning. Perhaps a short 3 minutes breath session at lunch time and one in the evening. Whatever works for you.

It has been found that practicing for 10 minutes per day for 5 days or more per week is better than practicing for one hour once per week. So you need to think about the frequency as well as the time you put aside.

Habit: Habits are very easy to create and very hard to break. As the 19th-century psychologist William James observed, “All our life … is but a mass of habits.” According to Charles Duhigg’s bestselling book, the Power of Habit, there are three keys to the creation of a habit. They are:

  • Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior): Some of the most successful mindfulness apps on the market allow you to set a reminder on a daily basis, when to practice mindfulness, either, a meditation or stepping back into the present moment. I use my diary to help me. Some people, set aside a fixed time during the day. Whatever works for you. 
  • Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take): THis is the actual behavior itself. I have built a habit where I listen to guided meditations. I find them better than silent practice. Some people prefer the silence. Some, prefer one type of practice. Others prefer variety. I have included some guided meditation links at the end of this article for reference.
  • Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior): As with all habits, the more you do the practice, the bigger the benefit you get. When I started, I wrote down the benefits I saw and felt in myself and used this as positive re-enforcement. If you use an app, you can record the outcomes you get and then play back these another time.


Mindfulness helps you to stand back from your thoughts and view them objectively. It helps you to engage with moment to moment living. Mindfulness, is not just the practice of meditation, it is being mindful in the present moment. Don’t forget, Mindfulness is NOT about clearing your mind. In fact, mind wandering is needed for mindfulness. It is the directing of the mind, that is the key.

If you have specific ways that you practice or ways you have developed, feel free to share.

I leave you with the following quote:

“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”  ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom


Free guided meditations:



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