Return to the breath is one of the most common cues in mindfulness meditation. The breath works as an anchor to bring our awareness into the bodies and the present moment. Meditation itself is a constant practice of remembering. It is remembering to come back to breath when you are lost in a thought. When we forget ourselves in our thoughts, we simply acknowledge the thoughts and gently return to our focus on the breath.
Life is also a practice in remembering. I personally have periods when I forget to meditate. I become lost in my daily life and work. Time seems to pass by without much mindfulness. A part of being a meditator is acknowledging when we are lost and gently reminding ourselves to come back to our practice and the present moment. Right now, I am working on returning to a regular consistent meditation practice. I find that since my schedule is extremely busy, I have to use tricks to get my practice back on track. Here a few tricks that help me return to mindfulness:
● Starting off small: I start with doing only five minutes of meditations daily, then ten minutes twice a day and eventually twenty minutes twice a day. I only move on to the next step once I have been successful in remembering to practice for at least a few weeks.
○ Alarms: If you have a consistent schedule, set alarms for when you plan on meditating. If you do not have a consistent schedule then try meditating once you wake up or before bed. Set your alarm to wake you up ten minutes earlier than usual. Just simply plan to have the time to meditate.
○ Email: If alarms do not work set up email reminders through your calendar site.
○ Apps: Use technology and download meditation and mindfulness apps. Right now I am testing on zenify. I am not crazy about the name but the mindfulness exercises and reminders in the app have been helpful. Even though they are not traditional meditation practices, it keeps me in the mindset of mindfulness throughout the day
○ Visual: Set up visual cues and reminders such as having your meditation cushion in a prime visual area. Have symbols and icons around the house that remind you of meditation. I have my cushion and meditation altar in the closet because it is the quietest place in the house and I go into the closet many times a day.
○ Books and other media: Pick up your favorite meditation, spiritual, mindfulness books or get some new ones. Keep one by your bedside as a reminder to practice when you wake up.
● Daily mindful activities: If you are a busy person, it is really helpful to start off with quick mindfulness practices. Meditate while washing the dishes, doing laundry, going on a walk, etc. Simply pick an object of focus and let it anchor you into the present moment.
● Support: Meditate with your partner, join a group or find a meditation buddy.
● Researching yourself: Keep reminding yourself why you meditate. Keep track of the effects in has on your daily life and use that as inspiration.
● Let it be a treat instead of a chore: Choose to see meditation as a gift to yourself. Remembering why you do it and how it benefits you. Have fun in your meditation and try new ways of meditation until you feel like it is a secret treasure.