This year the One Little Word linkup is being hosted by Carolyn at Your One Word – thank you, Carolyn! My word of the year for 2021 is Stillness and and I’m starting the year cultivating a meditation habit. Today I’m sharing a few of the things I’ve learned while practicing for the last month or so.

To develop a meditation habit, I’ve stacked it with my morning journaling. Right after I finish a page in my notebook, I set my Insight Timer for 5 minutes and do my best to focus on my breath. Stacking these two habits together has been so beneficial – I don’t have to worry about forgetting to meditate! As I’m writing in my journal, I almost always include my plan for the day and that serves as the perfect reminder.

My focus while meditating is miserable. I try to maintain my concentration by using this mantra:

Breathe in: “I am”
Breathe out: “still.”

It helps to have something to come back to when I catch my mind wandering (constantly). It’s also helped to practice ocean breath because I have an audible sensation to focus on.

Spending 5 minutes a day repeating the words I am still has had so many benefits already. When I start to feel my heart race in the midst of a stressful situation, I can easily move back into those words and remind myself that I’m still – all of those other emotions are swirling around me and I can wait until the clouds clear. And when I’m battling through the hard bits on the exercise bike, I try to even out my breathing by using the same mantra.

The biggest benefit from meditating so far is that I’m beginning to recognize that I have time. I tend to rush around to get everything done and it doesn’t have to be that way. I spent years brushing off regular meditation and yoga because I thought I didn’t have the time. But I can easily take 5 minutes to sit at my desk and breathe. And furthermore – I can take the extra two minutes to clear away the clutter on the counter now and I can take an extra 5 minutes to straighten up the cabinet so I don’t get frustrated with it again the next time I open the door. Learning to slow down, to not rush through things, and to get things right the first time has been an unintended perk and it feels good to finally be internalizing those ideas. Of course – I have a long way to go, but recognizing it is the first step.

I plan to keep meditating in February and to be open to whatever bubbles up. Still just 5 minutes a day – I figure it’s more realistic to start “small” and increase the time when I feel motivated to do so. Those 5 minutes are still a very long time for me!

I can’t wait to catch up on everyone else’s words and how everyone’s year is starting out. And if you’re not participating in the linkup, please visit Carolyn at Your One Word to meet other bloggers sharing their thoughts today!

13 thoughts

  1. Loved this, Katie. And I’m having better luck than other years by stacking writing and meditation, also, and doing both first thing. I can’t remember if The Snow Cave was a book you had recommended this past year, but I’ve been reading it and finding it interesting and inspiring. It’s about an English woman who becomes a Buddhist nun and it describes her amazing meditation journey. NOT anything I’d ever attempt, but inspiring nonetheless. Here’s to your journey, which is also inspiring! (No pressure, just validation… ;-))

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    1. Thank you for the book recommendation! I just added it on Goodreads and it looks amazing! How funny that we both landed on the same strategy – stacking journaling and meditation first thing in the morning. Great minds!!

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  2. I still practice mindfullness when things become hard- just breathing and staying in the moment and telling myself I am ok right now. I love your mantra of I am still , as you breathe in and out- much better than mine of” breath in, breathe out”- does the same trick- as long as I don’t fall asleep. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Ha! Even with the mantra I catch myself fixing my ponytail or drinking tea. Once I even caught myself starting to use the computer!! You can see how well I stay focused :p

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  3. I hear you on that 5 minutes seeming like an eon… it was the same for me when I started. I love your mantra… that is just perfect! Meditation time has become the most vital moments of my day… it brings a change to my mood and how I feel. Thank you for sharing a peek into your word start!

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    1. I decided to try to meditate everyday because of you! You’ve briefly mentioned your own practice a few times in ways that made it seem approachable – so thank you!

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  4. I love your mantra, such as it is. I have the same issue with my mind wandering when I try to meditate, so I may steal it the next time I need to calm myself for a few minutes. I’m glad that you’ve found a way to pair your meditation time with your notebook time — that’s very smart of you to do because you have such a good streak going!

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  5. You’re so wise to start “small” with your meditation habit, Katie. It sounds like you’re off to a wonderful start to bringing more stillness into your life. (And don’t you love Insight Timer? I think it’s a great meditation app!)

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  6. “I am….still”–I find that deeply moving. Because I think of it not only as I am still–as in at rest–but also as in I am still here…I am still me…I am still participating in this life, in whatever way that manifests today. I found myself breathing deeper, slower, and more steadily as I read this post. (Thank you!) It sounds like you’ve made a lot of meaningful connections this month. (And that habit stacking–it makes such a difference, doesn’t it?! In fact, this morning that I started stacking my Ashwaganda with making my kiddos’ breakfast!)

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