M15 Med027: Guided meditation on the breath


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We typically act in accordance with our beliefs. If, for example, you believe you’re fit, you’re likely to eat well and exercise regularly. In other words, when you think of yourself as a fit person, it is easier to create the habits of eating well and exercising. This gem of insight into human behaviour can help you build or strengthen your mindfulness habit, too.

Listen to the podcast:

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Or, read the blog:

If you want to build a new habit, try changing your beliefs about yourself, first. Habits built this way are called identity-based habits. For a more scientific explanation of why identity-based habits work, check out this article by Adam Wik.

Here are two easy strategies you can use to alter your identity:

    1. Play make-believe, just like you did when you were a child. Pretend that you are a “meditator” or a “mindful person”. As you play make-believe, engage in the behaviours your pretend character would engage in. Adam Wik says, “An identity based habit is formed by acting like the person you want to be until you actually become them.”
    2. Prove to yourself that you are “a person who meditates.” How? By engaging in activities that prove it. You can start with just one activity, but the key is to make it so easy that you can’t fail. My suggestion: Take three mindful breaths every morning immediately after you get out of bed. Here’s how to make it happen:

Put a reminder note someplace where you’ll see it as soon as you get out of bed, perhaps on a night stand, the wall across from your bed, or the bathroom mirror.

Every morning, when you wake up and see the note, stop and take three mindful breaths. What’s a mindful breath? It’s a breath you pay full attention to, like a mini meditation. It doesn’t matter how your breathe. Deep, shallow, fast, slow, whatever. Just put your full attention on the three breaths.

Immediately after the breaths, tell yourself, “Yes, I’m a meditator,” or, “Very good. I’m a mindful person.” Don’t skip this last step. It’s a little reward for engaging in the mindful behaviour and it’s an essential part of habit building.

Put these two strategies into action today and soon you’ll come to think of yourself as a mindful person. At that point, it will be much easier to ramp up your practice, meditating regularly and conducting daily activities mindfully.

Let’s behave like meditators right now. Join me for some sitting meditation.

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