So you’re trying to become more mindful and you’re not really seeing the results you expected. Why is that? Just how long does it take to become more mindful?
Some benefits of mindfulness can be felt immediately. For example, deep-breathing exercises can produce a quick, temporary reduction of stress or anxiety. However, longer term benefits of mindfulness can take months or longer to achieve. The most effective way to see longer term results is to practice mindfulness every day until it becomes a habit. To get started, you should try to dedicate at least 15 minutes a day to mindful activities.
If you’ve been considering becoming more mindful, you’re just getting started and have questions, or you feel like you’ve hit a wall, it’s my sincere hope that this post helps. Read on to learn about the benefits of becoming more mindful and when they’ll start to appear. I also have some advice for those of you who are feeling stuck and need a little help or reassurance.
How Long Does it Take to Achieve Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is your ability to be completely present, aware of your actions and surroundings, and not let yourself get overwhelmed by what may be going on around you. Mindfulness as a practice is available to you at all times and can be harnessed through meditation, yoga, or something as simple as taking a short pause to concentrate on breathing before you answer your phone.
Most meditation teachers will tell you that you have to practice over time to become more mindful. There may be minor improvements early on, and you may be lucky enough to feel significant benefits almost instantly. This doesn’t happen to everyone, though, so don’t expect these overnight results. In most cases, it’s recommended you try daily meditation or yoga for a month and then evaluate your progress from there.
It’s important to note you shouldn’t get discouraged if you don’t see results quickly. Early sessions can be very frustrating, since your mind will want to wander at the slightest disturbance. With time, this will fade away, and you will be able to bring yourself to a place of self-awareness and peace. The more you train at mindfulness, the easier it will get to tune out distractions as well.
Meditation is a great way to start training your mind. Start off with short, guided meditations and work your way up to longer ones.
On days where I’m feeling particularly flustered or pulled in many directions, even focusing my mind for 10 uninterrupted minutes is challenging. Don’t beat yourself up. If you notice that your mind has wandered, simply refocus it again.
After the first few weeks of regular meditation, initial signs of being more mindful should begin to manifest. Since meditation teaches you to stay focused by training your mind to settle on your breathing, you’ll probably start to notice how your mind is calmer and more stable. Continued practice will start to create an uncluttered mind with a greater sense of clarity.
As you progress even further, you may start to notice even more new changes. You might go through your day with a much lighter mood, and you won’t react to negativity as quickly as you once did.
People who are close to you will be able to pick up on these changes as well and may ask you where they came from. This will be a good indication that what you’re doing is working. Keep it up from here.
There are many short-term and long-term benefits to be on the lookout for on the path to becoming more mindful. According to Mindworks, these include physical, mental, and psychological perks. They are:
- Increase in calmness and mental stability
- Better focus, concentration, and attention to detail
- Decrease in anxiety and stress
- Improved quality of sleep
- Better circulation
- Overall increase in health
Why Does Mindfulness Take Longer for Some People?
You may want to start reaping the above benefits, but admittedly, you feel that mindfulness hasn’t worked out for you thus far. Why is that?
Mindfulness may take longer for some people in part due to a misunderstanding of the practice itself. Here are the most common complaints:
- My mind is just too wild or cluttered
- I’m still stressed, so mindfulness must not work
- This was supposed to be a lot easier
Instead of seeing how things are in their simplest terms, many people tend to get overly frustrated with mindfulness because they can’t take their focus off their expectations. While there are studies that show the benefits of consistent mindfulness can manifest in just eight weeks (including this one from a Harvard neuroscientist), being more mindful won’t make your problems simply disappear.
Mindfulness is not a silver bullet by any stretch of the imagination.
Mindful meditation brings many people a sense of peace, while others have a hard time stopping their mind from daydreaming or becoming distracted by the things around them. Struggling in this regard is not uncommon.
Here’s a breakdown of what it might look like in your first meditation sessions:
- You close your eyes
- You focus on your breathing
- After 10 seconds, your mind wanders
- You bring your focus back to your breathing
- Repeat steps 2-4
- Stop after 10 minutes
What is important to remember here is that like anything else, becoming more mindful takes time, practice, and commitment. Even if you become discouraged and feel like giving up, keep going.
Perhaps you focus your efforts on 15 minutes of yoga once day instead of meditation. Changing your method of practice may be all you need to completely improve your experience.
Here’s a post I did with a bunch of mindfulness exercises that you can practice throughout your day.
What Can You Do to Become More Mindful Right Now?
Mindfulness gives you the ability to put some space between yourself and your reactions, which over time alters your mind’s conditioned responses. Practicing mindfulness is creating space for yourself to breathe and think. You can start to become more mindful right now by following a few simple guidelines.
Set Aside Some Time
It’s not a requirement for you to have a meditation bench or a yoga mat on hand at all times. You don’t have to go out and buy a cushion or candles or anything fancy. All you really need is a little bit of time and some space. If you have that, you have what it takes to practice mindfulness.
Take in the Present Moment As Is
Your goal with mindfulness shouldn’t be to try and reach some state of eternal peace. Instead, your goal should be to pay close attention to the moment you’re in without passing judgment. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but that’s why it’s a practice.
Allow Judgments to Pass
Take note of any judgments that may come up while you’re in practice. When you notice these judgments, it allows you to take a mental note of them before you let them simply roll by.
If you can, after your practice try to remember what those judgments were. Do you have recurring judgments or different ones each time?
Don’t be too critical of yourself as you start your mindfulness journey. This will only hold you back.
Return to the Moment
Often times your mind will be carried away by random thoughts. Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of those thoughts and being able to bring yourself back to the present. This will happen over and over again, and you need to allow it as part of the practice.
Be Kind to Your Mind
When your mind begins to get carried away, be sure not to be too hard on yourself. Practice the idea of recognizing when your mind starts to wander. When you identify those instances, gently bring your mind back to the moment. Repeat this as many times as necessary.
The practice of mindfulness is one that is very simple, yet at the same time not necessarily easy. The key here is to just keep at it, even if at first you find it discouraging. Results will come with time and patience. It’s unfair to yourself to abandon the practice if you don’t see lightning fast results.
I do want to mention that there’s no real way to completely quiet your mind, and that isn’t what you should be trying to do. As you practice, your mind is going to wander and the judgmental part of your brain will want to take over. Just keep refocusing your attention on the present moment as many times as it takes.
Mindfulness is a trait that is already available to you at every moment of every day. Through practices including meditation and yoga, you can learn to become more mindful and begin to see results within a few weeks. With both short and long-term benefits, mindfulness can help improve your physical, emotional, and psychological well-being and give you a calmer, more stable mind.
Don’t let yourself become discouraged by the pitfalls of your own mind. Achieving mindfulness is a practice that takes patience and commitment.
Remember to recognize when your mind is beginning to wander and guide yourself back to the present moment without judging yourself for straying. Stick with it and you’ll be seeing results very quickly.
Let me know in the comment section below how you’re progressing!