The main focus of week 1 of my Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course or indeed any mindfulness course is establishing a daily meditation practice (known as formal practice).
Formal practice is an intentional daily commitment of time that you spend training your attention, connecting with your observer self and getting to know the workings of the mind.
Regular formal practice can help us better understand ourselves and increase our ability to stay present with an experience. The more you practice mindfulness, the more readily you can bring mindfulness into your everyday activities.
To find out how I could best commit to doing this daily practice, I decided to experiment with time, place and method of listening to the guided meditation.
Establishing a routine needs to be personal to you so it's worth trying out different places and times to find out what will work for you.
Below are the results of my first week.
06.00 on a commuter train My first morning and I had to go to London for work. This meant an earlier than usual start for me. I didn't want to lose more sleep than I needed to so I downloaded the Mindfulness of Breath guided meditation to my phone and took my headphones with me.
Luckily at that time of day the train is quite empty. I sat at the end of the carriage, facing the direction of travel. I settled into a relaxed posture and pressed play.
I meditated on a train!
06.15 in my living room I am used to being here at this time. This is when I usually spend 30 minutes doing yoga and pilates stretches.
I used my laptop to access the meditation.
I like focusing on the sensation of my breath as it enters and leaves my nostrils.
06.30 my friend's office
Close to my usual 30 minutes of me time. Sat at his desk with the laptop in front of me.
Sitting on a chair is best.
08.00 in a Bed &Breakfast before walking 14 miles My mind is not wishing to meditate. It continually goes elsewhere, I continually bring it back to my breath.
My mind knows we have to get going on this walk. Squeezing meditation in is not going to work for me unless I mentally allow my Self time.
Establishing a mindfulness mediation practice discipline is no different than establishing any other habit. For the sake of routine and consistency, it’s best to meditate at the same time every day (Steven Alper)
09.00 in a meeting room at work No time this morning to practice at home. Took my phone into a meeting room at work. Sat at the table opposite the window, back to the door.
This was hard, I kept thinking someone would come in (I hadn't booked the room).
Eventually, I just let my Self connect with my breath. On returning to the open plan office, I felt calm and distanced from everything.
17.30 in a Bed & Breakfast after walking 13 miles This is not the time nor the place to practice mindfulness. Too sleepy, having rested an hour after the walk. In a shared room, while they are having a shower is also not practical.
18.00 when I got home from work I thought this would be the perfect time. It would help transition from work to home.
My mind was restless, planning the rest of the evening, thinking of food. This is not the time for me to practice focusing attention.
Outcomes and findings I am committed to this experiment in mindfulness, however some of this week sitting down to do the meditation has felt forced i.e. must get it done.
On work days, first thing in the morning before my shower is a good time. Weekends are a struggle as I don't have a regular rising time (perhaps, I need one?)
Privacy is a must, you need to do it in a place where you will not be disturbed. The living room is the best place so far. I am pleased to find that meditation can be practiced anywhere.
Have you got a regularly meditation practice? I'd love to know how you established it.
Alper, Steven (2016). Mindfulness Meditation in Psychotherapy. Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications.