Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.

— Thich Nhat Hanh

Creating positive change in my life did not happen overnight nor did it happen all at once. It was a slow and, often times, arduous process. The biggest changes I have made, to live more positively and with confidence, have been adding daily personal habits to my life.

Admittedly, this has been difficult at times. I have had to restart my commitment to certain habits that I have given up on because they have felt too hard. I found ways to convince myself they were unimportant, or at least that other priorities took precedent. This is why I call it my personal daily habit practice.

I am happy to say that many of the habits I have developed are regularly practiced! Some have even become so much a part of my daily life that I don’t even think about them consciously anymore. Once I become proficient with a habit, and I can trust myself not to monitor it anymore, I “retire” it on the list and add another.

The habits range in degree of difficulty. Some I find the motivation for almost immediately and others I really have to dig deep and persevere to keep on track. All the while I do my best to be kind and gentle with myself when I screw up, and boy, do I screw up some days!

My habits can be classified into 3 major categories: Being Quiet, Being Reflective and Being Body Aware. I thought it would be helpful to share what they are and how they have helped me. Today I will focus on one of my  Being Quiet habits, meditation.

My Meditation Practice

I begin each day in mindful meditation. It has taught me to find my center and to shut off the noise in my brain long enough to contemplate the beauty of my life on a daily level.

I know…a few years ago I would have said “Good for you Karla, but meditation is not for me!” Trust me, I get it! This habit definitely didn’t come naturally to me at first!

Here’s what I did to begin meditating: I put my iPhone timer on for 5 minutes and I counted my breath, in and out, to ten. And then when I got to ten, I started at one again. That’s it.

At first, I didn’t worry about whether my posture was great, or if I was feeling tranquil, or if I was still. I just counted my breath. I fidgeted, my mind constantly wandered and I felt like I wasn’t really meditating.

This lasted for at long time. Once I could count my breath, without opening my eyes every 45 seconds, for 5 minutes I added another few minutes on my iPhone. I continued this increasing of time and slowly but surely, my practice took on a shape that today helps me feel calm and at peace.

There really is no magic to meditation. It is possible for everyone to do and most importantly, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. I am a firm believer that whatever you do to help yourself be present in meditation is your practice and, therefore, right for you!

Although I have taken meditation courses, meditated in groups, used guided meditation and other techniques to help my practice expand and work for me, I know the simple act of breathing consciously for a short period of time is enough to create change within.

All you need to start is a few minutes and the will to try something new. Try to make your practice daily, not because meditation has to happen everyday to be done correctly but because that is what practice takes.

Set your timer for 5 minutes and do your best to focus on the natural ebb and flow of your breath. When your mind wanders off (and it definitely will wander off) gently return your attention back to counting when you become aware that you have stopped.

When we make the conscious choice to focus on the simplicity of our breath a space is created inside us. This space allows us to slow down, leave the negativity and rush of life for a moment and become present in the here and now. We are then filled up with the healing and healthy energy around us that we often ignore in the craziness of our busy lives.

So find your 5 minutes and start breathing!