The Being & The Doing EPISODE 12:
How to Create a Mindfulness Habit
The mindfulness exercise of pausing is pretty simple. What is more challenging is remembering to do it. With busy lives we simply forget to take a mindful pause until we have created a habit of doing it throughout our day. In this episode Laurel shares tips on how to make pausing a regular part of your day.
*A full transcript is posted at the bottom of this page.
Creating Mindful Pauses
Today’s episode is the third part of a series on mindful pauses. Here are the other 2 episodes:
[Episode 3] The Most Important Well-being Habit – why pauses are important
[Episode 11] 21 Mindfulness Exercises to Help You Pause – what to do
The Power of Pause Program
Would you like to start adding mindful pauses into your day? With this affordable program you will learn simple ways to cultivate mindful living in less than 10 minutes a day and create habits that actually work. FIND OUT MORE
This Episode’s Homework
Something to think about:
What is the gift in the present moment?
Something to try:
Pick a reminder and try it out – get a stone, set an alarm, write a sticky note, set up a buddy. Do it. Change only happens when we do something different.
You can grab your FREE homework Awareness & Action guide HERE.
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CREDITS: The Being & The Doing podcast is produced by Neela Bell. Voiceovers by Jason Harris. Music is GoodMorning Sunshine by Yoav Alyagon and Firefly by Scott Buckley.
Full Transcript of the Show
Intro: Welcome to The Being and The Doing, a podcast about well-being and the practices that help us have more calm, focus, purpose, and presence in our busy lives. Here’s your host, author and life coach Laurel Vespi.
Laurel: Hey, lovely ones welcome to Episode 12 of The Being and The Doing. Today, we are continuing on the topic of mindful pauses. That’s a conversation that we started last week in Episode 11; pauses, mindful pauses, are a game changer, that really is how I look at the importance of working pauses into your day because when you pause, it does change things.
Now, ‘game changer’ is not actually my description, it’s how my clients describe their experience of creating a habit of pause. Pausing is simply a type of mindfulness exercise, a way to be present in the moment and notice what’s happening around you and within you; your thoughts and your feelings and a way to calm yourself or shift your mood or shift your mindset.
So in last week’s Episode number 11, I walked you through most people’s typical day and I gave you 21 different ideas for taking a pause. Everything from the simplest of pauses; just stopping for a moment to take a couple of conscious breaths to how you can begin your day or end your day with a pause or pausing when you’re driving or eating or using your phone.
So if you haven’t had a chance to listen to that Episode number 11, 21 mindfulness exercises, I really encourage you to do that. And you can also check out Episode 3, which was called, ‘the most important well-being habit’. In that episode, I’m making the case for why it’s important and what happens when we pause so it’s the ‘why to do it’ episode and last week, number 11 was the ‘what to do’ episode and today we’re going to tackle the ‘how to do it’.
As I bet, for many of you, no matter how good your intentions were after listening last week, you didn’t actually take those pauses and all that proves is that you are human because doing it, taking a pause isn’t the problem. All the different kinds of pauses are really pretty simple, they only have to take a couple of minutes so what to do is not the challenge. The real challenge is remembering to do it and incorporating it into your day.
So I want to share a story with you that kind of help to illustrate this challenge. And I’m not sure where this story originated, it’s not my story and I’m happy to give attribution to the original source if anybody knows it so if you do, just let me know. So the story goes like this:
The Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt was supposedly one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world, but unfortunately, it was burned down in 48 BC. And as the story goes, only one book survived the great fire. It was a very ordinary looking book, seemed kind of dull and uninteresting and so it was sold for just a few pennies to a very poor man.
But the book actually contained a secret. There were a couple of sentences scrawled on the inside of the back cover that contained the secret of the touchstone. The touchstone was a tiny pebble that could turn anything it touched into pure gold. Now, apparently, this touchstone was lying somewhere on the shore of the Black Sea among thousands of other pebbles and stones that were exactly like it, except for one significant difference.
That where all the other pebbles were cold when you touched them, this one felt warm, almost as if it was alive. Now, the man who bought the book was very excited about his good luck so he sold everything that he had and he borrowed a huge sum of money that he thought would last him about a year and he headed to the Black Sea, where he set up his tent and he began his search for the Touchstone.
And here’s what he did. He would walk along the beach and he would lift up a pebble and if it was cold to the touch, he didn’t put it back on the shore because he didn’t want to have to keep picking up and putting down perhaps the same pebble stone, time after time after time. So when he picked it up if it felt cold, he threw it into the sea.
So every day for hours on every day, he would go about this task; pick up a pebble if he felt cold, you throw it in the sea and then he pick up another pebble and if it felt cold, he’d throw it into the sea and on and on and on. So he spent a week doing this and a month and then many months and eventually, he had spent a whole year doing this and he had to borrow more money so that he could keep at it for another two years.
Day after day after day, picking up a pebble, holding on to it feeling it, it’s cold, throw it in the sea. Pick up another pebble, it’s cold, throw it in the sea. Pick up another pebble, it’s cold, throw it into the sea. Day after day, week after week and he didn’t find the Touchstone. But then one day, just like all the other days, he picked up a pebble and it was warm to the touch but out of habit, he threw it into the sea.
And that’s exactly what happens to all of us as we are going through our days. We’re so busy doing what we’re doing, that we just function on autopilot, just out of habit. We’re just, habitually, doing the same thing over and over and over again without really thinking about it. We don’t have these moments of pause; the moments that let us stop and pay attention to what is actually happening. Imagine if the guy had actually paused and went, “Whoa, that’s warm.” We just do what we do out of habit. So when it comes to incorporating these mindful pauses in our day, it’s not our usual habit right now, so we don’t. We just keep tossing stones into the ocean.
Here’s the good thing, you can create a habit of pausing. It just takes a little focus and a little structure, just like any other habit that you might want to develop and there are a few keys to doing this.
So number one is, you have to give yourself permission. I know you’ve got a busy voice in your head and it says, “Laurel, I just don’t have time for this. Have you seen my to-do list?” I want you to think of it this way; you take the time now for a pause, just a few moments here and there to actually save yourself time later. What? Let me say it again; take the time now, a few moments, for a mindful pause and you will actually save yourself time later.
When you pause and you’re being more conscious and intentional in your choices, you are being responsive rather than being reactive. When we simply react to things, we often have to go back and fix them later because we just reacted. We did what we’ve always done which might not necessarily serve us in this moment. So pausing actually gives you a little space to make a better choice in the moment.
Pausing also helps you to pay attention differently so you don’t miss things because sometimes what we have to go back and fix is because we didn’t pay attention to the details of what it is that was going on. So in order to create any new habit, you’ve got to see the benefit in doing it. And you might just have to trust me on this because remember, pausing is a game changer. When you have this habit of mindful pausing in your day, things will start to shift.
The second thing, you need to have some reminders to help you stick with it long enough to create a habit because we use reminders all the time. You write a grocery list so that when you get to the grocery store, you remember what it is that you have to get. Reminders, we build in all of the time and you need reminders just in the same way for mindful pauses. So here’s a couple of ways that you can remind yourself about taking a pause that I think work pretty well.
Post a sticky note, I am a huge fan of sticky notes. I know sometimes people must think that I have stock in 3M, the Post-it note company, I don’t. I just find they are really, really effective ways to make myself remember something because I can write on my sticky note and then put it wherever it is I need a reminder.
So where might you need a reminder? You could stick it on your back door or on the dashboard of your car or on your computer screen. Just write something simple, something even as simple as ‘pause and breathe’. Post the sticky note and it serves as a reminder.
Another way you can create a reminder is to set an alarm on your phone. Now, it’s great if you can take advantage of what I call ‘natural pauses’ as they occur. So there are pauses that just naturally show up. Like when you’re waiting for something when you’re standing in line, there’s actually a pause that’s happening there or when you stop at a stoplight, that’s a pause. Even between tasks, there’s this moment of pause we tend to just jump over them, but if we can take advantage of those, those are great. That might be the next thing that you you work on.
In the beginning, when you’re first creating a habit of pausing, it’s helpful to be more intentional in these pauses so set an alarm on your phone. Now, once an hour or so, just a pause and breathe or do a quick scan of your body; is there any tension in your body? Do you maybe need to stretch your shoulders or get up and move? You can set the alarm for any of those reminders that I shared in the last episode.
I have a Fitbit and it vibrates every hour if I haven’t moved enough. It goes off and it says, “Laurel, get up. You’ve been sitting here too long.” And it’s the same principle when you use the alarm function on your phone as a reminder. Building on the story of the Touchstone, you could carry a small stone with you; maybe one you pick up on your walk one day or you could get one of those ones that have nice words that are written on them and you put it in your pocket. And then every time you touch it, you put your hand into your pocket, it’s just a reminder to pause or you could put it on your desk or in your lunch bag, it doesn’t matter; it just simply serves as a reminder for you to pause.
Another thing you can do is to get a buddy. Make a commitment with a friend to text once a day, just randomly, with the word ‘pause’ and that’s all it has to say. You’ll get the text message and, “Oh, yeah, I’ll just stop for a moment and pause.” Now, the great thing about using this reminder is that when you go to text your friend, it’s also a signal for you to take a pause. So you have the pause when you’re going to send them the message and then randomly somewhere in the day, they’re going to also send you the text message so you actually have worked two pauses in.
You know, having a partner a buddy focused on the same habit can really create this little extra accountability and structure to help you be consistent.
So first thing was about giving yourself permission, like being motivated to want to do it and the second thing is about setting some reminders and the third thing is about being consistent because creating a new habit takes time.
Just think about any habit that you have either wanted to create or actually have created, it took focus, didn’t it? And it also probably took longer than you thought. There’s this popular belief that you can build a new habit in 21 days and that’s just simply not true. There are no studies that support that idea at all. I mean, wouldn’t that be nice but no.
The truth is it takes at least 66 days of consistent effort to create a habit and it might take even as long as a year. It really depends on how close this habit is to something that you already do so it takes time. That’s because your brain needs time to create some new neural pathways that say, “Oh yes, this is actually a habit for me.” So you might need a little help in being consistent with doing that, most people do and that’s why I created this super affordable little program that helps people build the habit of pausing.
It’s called The Power of Pause and it gives you the structure and support and encouragement to stick with it for, yes, 66 days to kind of get over that first hump. It’s not a big time commitment because I know you’re busy. It takes less than 10 minutes a day and it really works.
So I’m going to leave a link in the show notes for you and I really encourage you to go and read a little bit more about it or you can also just go to the website stonecirclecoaching.com and click the ‘work with me’ button. There’s a big button there on the homepage, you’ll see it, you can click on that and it will take you to the page that will describe the Power of Pause for you.
So with today’s podcast, you now have three resources on creating mindful pauses. So back in Episode 3, you got the ‘why’; why you want to make pausing a habit? And in Episode 11, just the previous episode, you got the ‘what’; 21 different ways to incorporate those pauses into your day. And in today’s Episode, now you have the ‘how’; how to stick with it by giving yourself permission and using reminders and maybe getting a little help and support.
So for now, let me leave you with a little ‘being and doing’ homework. And the reason why I give you some homework at the end of every episode is it’s great that you’re listening and I so appreciate that you’re listening to the podcast but in order to create change in our lives to work with some of these ideas, we have to actually do something. So the homework gives you something to extend what it is that you’ve listened to and learned about in the podcast.
A little something to think about and a little something to try. So you can write them down or they’re always in the show notes. Here’s your ‘something to think about’ question; what is the gift in the present moment?
Because the whole point of mindfulness is for us to pay attention, on purpose, to what is happening right now. And that’s why we want to build the habit of mindful pauses. Getting clear about your motivation really helps you to be consistent. So think about what is the gift in the present moment? If I took this pause and came back to the present moment, what’s the gift or the value or the benefit in doing that?
And something to try; pick a reminder and try it out. So get a stone or set an alarm or write a sticky note or set it up with your buddy to do a text message. Pick one and just do it and try it out and see how it helps you in beginning to build a habit. Because here’s the thing, change only happens when we actually do something different.
Now there’s something a little different that’s coming in our next episode. It is going to be the first ever ‘being and doing’ conversation with a special guest. I’m really excited about this episode. We’re going to be talking about how music can help you manage stress. So be sure to tune in to learn about the power of sound wellness and some simple ways that you can use the power of sound in your day. Until then, lovely ones, pause, breathe and enjoy your day.
Outro: You’ve been listening to The Being and The Doing, with your host Laurel Vespi. If you like this episode and think other people would, please subscribe, rate and give a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. Be sure to tune in next week for another conversation about The Being and The Doing. Thanks for listening.