If we wish to learn a new habit, there is much documentation to support that we need to spend approximately a month repeating the new behavior in order to get it to become routine in any way. We learn better slowly, giving our brains time to process and absorb and finally retain important pieces of information and behaviors that we wish to repeat and incorporate as part of our regular activities.

Having said that, mindfulness cannot truly be effective until it becomes a habit. And as we have stated earlier, mindfulness is something that we practice, allowing it to become more comfortable and familiar the more we practice.

Digging deep inside to learn more about who we are and what we feel takes determination and courage. Self exploration into the depths of our being means we will be confronting the sensations (feelings) associated with some of the most significant events we have faced in our lives. There are going to be intense emotions that will most likely come up.

But if we choose to follow a path of mindfulness, we are willing to face them anyway. I strongly encourage anyone willing to follow this type of path of self-discovery to keep this in mind and take some time each day to recognize just how wonderful what you are doing is. Realize how brave you are being and praise yourself for taking these steps. I am 100% certain you would do at least as much for someone else if you learned that they were undertaking something like this.

Be gentle with yourself throughout the process. Make sure you have set up a system of support for yourself, a friend or two who you can talk to anytime about what you discover. You are looking for someone who will listen to your experiences and not judge or have their opinion over-ride your actions.

And please remember to continuously grant yourself permission to experience all the feelings you encounter without dwelling on them for too long. The purpose is to experience all your feelings, but not to get lost or stuck in them. And the glorious part of mindfulness is that you don’t have to stop feeling as you go through the rest of your day. You can do both at the same time. The trick is not to stay deep in the emotions. Just know they are there and validate them and feel them.

If what you find yourself feeling strongly is a sense of numbness, remember that is a feeling as well. Come face to face with your feelings as being a significant part of yourself (because they are) and breath through them, maybe even asking yourself when you first started having this feeling. No judging, no analyzing, just experiencing, learning and accepting.

Here is a small trial run you can try, starting today. If you place one of your hands on your stomach and the other on your chest and feel if your breath is shallow or deep, if you haven’t practiced anything like this before, you will more than likely find it is fairly shallow. If your hands move an inch or less when you inhale and exhale fully, your breathing is shallow.

Don’t get discouraged. Most people don’t breathe deeply. This is mostly because in our crazy world of multi-tasking, diversions and interruptions, we don’t take the time to even think about how we breathe. If we did, more of us would breathe deeper.

So, over the next week, make a point of becoming more present to your breathing throughout the day. I understand you will not be able to do this for hours on end. Gently bring your awareness back to your breathing from time to time throughout the day more often than you normally would.

Then see how far your hands move when you measure how shallow or how deeply your breathing is. If you’ve done this routinely for a week, you should find a significant increase in how deeply you breathe.

The reason for the change is because you have brought your level of awareness regarding your breathing to the forefront. You have become mindful of what your body is doing and the outcome is improved breathing.

This is how mindfulness works in all aspects of our lives. By becoming more in touch with what we feel and who we are, we improve it automatically.

Author's Bio: 

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy's professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!