Why practice for 3, 11 or 31 minutes… or 40, 90 or 120 consecutive days?
I had a big “Aha” when I learned that there is actually a science behind the time and days that are suggested for meditation, or how often/long to practice something in order to create a new habit. The ideas that I am sharing with you in this article are rooted in Kundalini Yoga – which is a yoga practice that has a very structured approach, combining physical practice with meditation, breath and mantras to help people achieve very specific results.
I have found that the practice timing and the amount of days of practice don’t just apply to the yoga you do on the mat – but they work in your very practical daily life: Here are some examples of my own life:
The big one: 629 days… and counting:
As of today, 13-Nov-17, I am on day 629 of a gratitude practice that I share with a couple of friends of mine: each of us shares 5 gratitudes via email every single day, and we reflect back to each other what moves and inspires us about each other’s gratitudes. When I first started this practice I didn’t think I would make it through the suggested 30 days that Marci Shimoff spoke about in a lecture…. So I enlisted some friends to help me hold myself accountable to really giving this an honest try… And we kept going, and going and going…. When I first read through the practice timing and amount of days I felt so validated: I could see very clearly how our practice evolved; and mirrors very closely what is laid out below:
- The first 30 days required a daily reminder. The practice felt new, and gratitudes floated up from the surface of the physical world around me.
- After 40 days the practice was starting to shift my thinking deeper. I felt committed and wanted to find new gratitudes every day so I found myself looking for new ones throughout the day; I felt more alert and in a constant sense of anticipation of good things to be happening.
- After 90 days my gratitudes included much deeper reflections: I began to feel profoundly grateful about lessons learned – even painful ones, in a way that I had not known possible before we started this practice. (how that worked for me will be a topic for another post…)
- After 120 days the gratitude practice had become a permanent “habit” in my consciousness, and I don’t have to actively think about this as a “thing to do” – it has found a natural place in my life. Something I genuinely cherish and look forward to from the moment I wake up in the morning.
- A little over half way towards the 1000 day mark I can already see the benefits of the practice, and how I can use my gratitude to help me through almost any challenge, to lift me out of a funk or guide me back on track when I seem to lose my focus in life…
An 11-day example:
A friend of mine put her apartment up for sale. She created a very “real” vision of how she would feel once it was sold, picturing shaking hands with the new owners and sharing their excitement about moving in; imagining the feeling when her realtor would tell her the offer had been much more than she was expecting. For 11 days, as her realtor held an open house where he offered tours to interested buyers, she repeated her vision daily – and held on to it through any doubts, fears, anxiety that would come up. The result: she received 9 offers, all of them far exceeding not only her but also her realtor’s expectations. Yep, it is real-life-magic that works. “How? I don’t know, it’s a mystery.” (my favorite quote from the movie “Shakespeare in Love”) – actually read below, there is some science to this particular mystery.
Conclusion: even if you don’t have a “formal” yoga or meditation practice yet, the timing and days of practice you will read about below WORKS. Don’t get caught up on the technicalities like traditional mantras, “kriyas” (= structured practice), “mudras” (= hand positions) or breathing techniques…
The important thing is: Consistency and focus.
- Set up a specific time of day to do your practice.
- Set a timer.
- Sit comfortably in a quiet space and breathe.
- Pick or create a mantra, affirmation, vision or power statement that you want to focus on. Example: “I intend to be happy today.”; “My flat will sell to the perfect owner.” Yes, it can be as straightforward as this, you don’t need to learn Sanskrit or twist your tongue and body into pretzels…
- Maybe find an accountability partner, someone to do the practice with, or who you can check in with. (Read my blog “3 ways of increasing your odds of reaching your goals” to learn more about the benefits of accountability…)
- Push through the resistances, excuses, distractions and obstacles – yes, they will come up. So make a commitment and stick to it for the time that you committed to (if you’ve never done this before – start with just 3 minutes for 11 or 40 days… keep an open mind – and see what happens…)
3 minutes: Affects your circulation, blood chemistry and stability of the blood. The increased blood circulations begins, distributing enhanced neuroendocrine secretions throughout the body.
7 minutes: Brain patterns start to shift from the static of beta waves, to calmer alpha waves and ultimately to deep relaxing delta waves. Simultaneously, the magnetic force surrounding the body increases in strength.
11 minutes: The pituitary gland, glandular system and the nerves start to learn and change. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems begin to accommodate the increased energy.
22 minutes: Anxiety producing thoughts in the subconscious begin to clear. Your three minds (negative, positive, and neutral) start to work together so your mental integration changes. 22 is the infinite number of longing and gives mastery of the mental realm.
31 minutes: Affects your whole mind and your aura. Endocrine balance is achieved, as is balance of the chakras. This balance persists throughout the day, and is reflected by changes in moods and behavior.
Amount of Days
11 days: 11 is the number of Infinity in the material world and conqueror of the physical realm. So it’s like the first step to break loose from the entanglement of the mind.
40 days: Helps to break negative habits that block you from the expansion possible through the Kriya or mantra, if done 40 days straight in a row
90 days: When you practice the Kriya or mantra for 90 days straight it will establish a new habit in your conscious and subconscious mind. It will change you in a very deep way.
120 days: When you commit to practice the Kriya or mantra for 120 days without skipping a day it will confirm the new habit of consciousness. The positive benefits of the Kriya get integrated permanently into your psyche.
1000 days: This will allow you to master the new habit of consciousness that the Kriya or mantra has promised. No matter what the challenge, you can call on this new habit to serve you.
So what practice are you starting today? What is your intention, goal or the result that you are directing your energy of your practice towards?