The Mind Mistakes the Talking for the Doing

I highly recommend making practice a priority over reading about it. This is true regardless of the skill you are working on. I'd also encourage you to keep a low profile regarding your attentional skills training. We have a tendency to let everyone know when we start a fitness program or sign up for a tap dancing class or order a Rosetta Stone program to master a foreign language.

However, studies repeatedly show that when it comes to goals which take consistent practice over time, "the mind mistakes the talking for the doing." I recommend keeping your new mindfulness practice to yourself until the habit is established. It’s similar to waiting to tell your friends and family about a pregnancy until after the first trimester. In fact, the length of a trimester is a great milestone to shoot for initially. Ninety days of consistent practice (as you define it up front) is an excellent accomplishment. Wait to tell your people that you’ve been practicing for three months instead of letting them know you are planning to try. The same advice applies to any skill development or regimen.

“Repeated psychology tests have proven that telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen. Any time you have a goal, there are some steps that need to be done, some work that needs to be done in order to achieve it. Ideally, you should not be satisfied until you had actually done the work. But when you tell someone your goal, and they acknowledge it, psychologists have found that it's called a social reality. The mind is kind of tricked into feeling that it's already done. And then, because you've felt that satisfaction, you're less motivated to do the actual hard work necessary. So this goes against the conventional wisdom that we should tell our friends our goals.” ~ Derek Sivers

Exploring some of the ways that sharing our good news and best intentions can actually diminish the related satisfaction and success, Lauren Friedman found that "talking up your goals—telling everyone about the language you’re going to learn or the LSATs you’re going to ace—might get in the way of actually achieving them. Recent studies by New York University psychologist Peter Gollwitzer suggest that making public what we hope to do can offer a premature sense of accomplishment, reducing the drive to actually get it done." 

Of course the people in your house are likely to notice when you are sitting quietly for a few minutes every day. That's different. But try to keep it on a need to know basis until you've got some momentum.

I've come to really enjoy anonymous mindfulness practice in general. It feels so subversive. It can really add a zing to waiting in line at the grocery store or in a doctor's office lobby. Nobody has to know that instead of trying to figure out a way to make this experience better or faster, I'm letting my attention feast on the sounds and sights around me or the sensations in my body.

As with anything I say, please don't take my word for it. Try it for yourself and see if you agree.