Tips on starting a mindfulness practice

It's that time of year when many of us decide to go into the new year with new intentions, such as eating more healthily and keeping fit. Many of these intentions, however, may start off well, but may also quickly diminish as we get distracted by our usual commitments. That is why it can be helpful to start off with very small steps - do something that we know we can sustain for a longer period of time and build up as we go.

Beginning a mindfulness meditation practice is often a key intention for many people, but where do you start if you have never practiced it before, especially if you wish to dip your toe in before investing in some kind of training? Here are some tips on how to get started:

- Practice only for 5 minutes each day, no more. It is easy to find 5 minutes in a day, even when we are busy. In my current research into mindfulness and resilience where I asked participants to practice for 5 minutes a day over a three week period, they could sustain it, and many of them noticed a significant difference in how they managed their daily lives.

- Find a space at home or work, where you know you will not get distracted. Try not to take your phone and any other devices. It can be helpful to view this time as protected time, where you are giving yourself permission to not be distracted by work or home life. You may sometimes need to make others aware that you are doing this, so that they don't unintentionally distract you.

- Meditate first thing in the morning before the day starts. As we all know, once we get into our routines, it can seem more difficult to find some time for ourselves.

- Use an app to remind you. There are many apps on the market, and they offer free guided meditations as well as notifications.

- It can be helpful to have some training however basic. Mindfulness meditation is a technique that can take many years to master. Do not be put off by this. You will notice the benefits of sitting for 5 minutes fairly quickly. Just sitting observing the breath for a few moments can make a difference to your daily experience. However, browsing the internet or reading a book on basic techniques can help you to get things right from the outset.

If you would prefer to take some formal training try one of our introductory courses.

Best wishes for 2017 x

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