7 Ways to Ease Into a Mindful Practice in 2022
Updated: Jan 6
If you’ve heard about the benefits of mindfulness—and the research that backs them up—you know that starting a practice of your own could be your best move in the new year.
Some of those benefits you’ve likely heard about include embracing your difficult emotions and calming your nervous system, so that you can respond rather than react to the stressors in your life. But perhaps there are lesser-known reasons.
Did you know that a mindfulness practice may also help you uncover your innate compassion for yourself and others—to be kinder? And it could help you break free from old habits and patterns, something we all could use after two years dealing with the COVID pandemic. Mindfulness can even help you find more creative bones in your body!
There’s no doubting the benefits of mindfulness. The challenge is, like most healthy habits, we all come up against barriers to a steady practice. There’s research that shows setting an intention with more ease—rather than going into full rage mode on yourself for those bad habits you’ve picked up—can help you stick with a new habit.
We’ve looked to our most trusted teachers for 7 tips and tricks to help you ease your way into a steady mindfulness practice in 2022.
1. Know your “why."
Everyone has a reason for starting a practice, whether it's to improve your health, ease stress and tension, or simply give yourself the gift of self-care. Once you know your “why,” take it one step further to remind yourself weekly, by writing it down, setting up digital reminders, and/or pinning it up in a conspicuous place like the bathroom mirror.
2. Adopt a friendly attitude toward practice.
In Pema Chodron’s best-selling book Start Where You Are, she suggests the “no big deal” approach to practice. Instead of making a big deal about practicing, she suggests that we all just lighten up a little bit and not take it so seriously.
Pema also suggests a gentleness or a sense of goodhearted-ness toward ourselves. This loving-kindness doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. “We can still be crazy, we can still be angry. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are,” she says.
3. Incorporate mindfulness in mundane daily tasks.
Mindful practice doesn’t have to be done sitting in a lotus posture. Take mundane daily tasks like brushing your teeth, going for a walk, or washing the dishes and do it in a mindful way, putting your focus only on the task at hand and your breath.
4. Find a friend to practice with.
Adopting better habits can be easier in a group, when you have community support. We can gather together (it doesn’t matter if it is freeform or structured) to reach our goals, support one another with openness and acceptance, and be buoyed on by a friend when we are feeling low.
5. Find an app to support and motivate you.
There’s a true variety of mindfulness apps available today, from free apps like Insight Timer to more structured guided apps like Calm, 10 Percent Happier, and the Chopra App.
6. Spend time outdoors.
Nature is a great teacher when it comes to mindfulness, so take that 30 minutes to step out, either in your neighborhood or a local park or greenway. Observe what you see on your walk, how the weather feels, what you hear, and what you smell. Out in nature there can be an amazing feeling of connection with other living things.
7. Let yourself off the hook.
If you miss a few days, don’t feel guilty about it, just get back on the horse.
As we know from years of sports, practice is all about consistency. The more time that you can carve out for a dedicated mindfulness practice, the more you’ll become more awake to the aliveness in the present moment. Then, come back here and let us know what benefits you have noticed in your life! We’d love to hear from you as we ease into 2022.