Part of making any positive change in our life involves adding it into our day-to-day routine to the point where it becomes as regular as brushing our teeth. In short, we have to create a habit out of the behavior or activity we’re looking to bring aboard. The post-new year’s battlefield is littered with habits that failed to stick. The best and most lasting benefits of Qigong come with consistent and regular practice. Being able to create a sound and regular habit out of it ensures the best chance for a long and healthy life. If you’re someone who struggles to create positive habits, use these tips to help you dial in your mindful practice (or really any habit you want to cultivate) to enrich your life for years to come.
Set an Intention Around It
Habits and routines are not the same things. Think of your habits as things you do automatically, without thinking about it, like getting dressed, how you get into your car, etc. While routines do connote regularity in our lives, they are the type of regularity that IS done with thought and planning, like going to the gym daily. Before something can become an automatic habit, it must first be an intention.
Define your why and hold onto it
Do you want to improve your concentration for professional gain? Your stress response to feel calmer all the time? Your energy so you can have more fun with friends and family? Do you want to relieve chronic pain so you can get back to activities you love? Whatever your reasons for choosing to start your Qigong journey, the why behind it is often as powerful as the energy itself. Getting in touch with these reasons and really knowing what they are will steer you back to practice when you waver because life gets busy or you just don’t feel like it.
I go back to this advice again and again, and mentioned it in my post about keeping your practice regular during the holidays. One of the best ways to drill in a habit is to put it in your schedule and stick to it no matter what. When you do that, anticipate what setbacks might get in the way of you holding fast to it. Life will always present more ways to eat up our time. Schedule what is important and ferociously guard those priorities.
Create a dedicated space for it
It will be a cold day in hell before I ever practice or work out in my dank 1916 house basement. Whatever you’re trying to add into your life, if it needs its own space, see if you can carve out somewhere in your home that you love and enjoy being in. It’s a really small detail, but one that will have a huge effect on motivation and building sound habits.
I do think it’s also important to remember that people take more or less time to develop a habit based on their own individual personalities. Be kind with yourself as you work on yours. Sometimes you might miss a day or two of practice despite your best intentions. Redouble your efforts and move on without beating yourself up. In the same way we brush the thoughts away when we become aware of them, we simply return to cultivating our habit.
Qigong for Health and Vitality will be starting up on September 14th. The the shift into autumn energy is another time that's perfect for starting a mindful practice to nurture your body and soul. Head over here for details and pick up a habit that you’ll never want to put down.