Becoming more aware of where you are and what you’re doing, without becoming overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you.
- By Mindful Staff
- December 12, 2018
- Guided Meditation
Mindfulness is a natural quality that we all have. It’s available to us in every moment if we take the time to appreciate it. When we practice mindfulness, we’re practicing the art of creating space for ourselves—space to think, space to breathe, space between ourselves and our reactions.
When we practice mindfulness, we’re practicing the art of creating space for ourselves—space to think, space to breathe, space between ourselves and our reactions.
- You don’t need to buy anything. You can practice anywhere, there’s no need to go out and buy a special cushion or bench—all you need is to devote a little time and space to accessing your mindfulness skills every day.
- There’s no way to quiet your mind. That’s not the goal here. There’s no bliss state or otherworldly communion. All you’re trying to do is pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. Sounds easy, right?
- Your mind will wander. As you practice paying attention to what’s going on in your body and mind at the present moment, you’ll find that many thoughts arise. Your mind might drift to something that happened yesterday, meander to your to-do list—your mind will try to be anywhere but where you are. But the wandering mind isn’t something to fear, it’s part of human nature and it provides the magic moment for the essential piece of mindfulness practice—the piece that researchers believe leads tohealthier, more agile brains: the moment when you recognize that your mind has wandered. Because if you can notice that your mind has wandered, then you can consciously bring it back to the present moment. The more you do this, the more likely you are to be able to do it again and again. And that beats walking around on autopilot any day (ie: getting to your destination without remembering the drive, finding yourself with your hand in the bottom of a chip bag you only meant to snack a little from, etc.).
- Your judgy brain will try to take over. The second part of the puzzle is the “without judgment” part. We’re all guilty of listening to the critic in our heads a little more than we should. (That critic has saved us from disaster quite a few times.) But, when we practice investigating our judgments and diffusing them, we can learn to choose how we look at things and react to them. When you practice mindfulness, try not to judge yourself for whatever thoughts pop up. Notice judgments arise, make a mental note of them (some people label them “thinking”), and let them pass, recognizing the sensations they might leave in your body, and letting those pass as well.
- It’s all about returning your attention again and again to the present moment. It seems like our minds are wired to get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the breath. We use the sensation of the breath as an anchor to the present moment. And every time we return to the breath, we reinforce our ability to do it again. Call it a bicep curl for your brain.
While mindfulness might seem simple, it’s not necessarily all that easy. The real work is to make time every day to just keep doing it. Here’s a short practice to get you started:
- Take a seat. Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
- Set a time limit. If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as 5 or 10 minutes.
- Notice your body. You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, in lotus posture, you can kneel—all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.
- Feel your breath. Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes out and as it goes in.
- Notice when your mind has wandered. Inevitably, your attention will leave the sensations of the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing this—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to the breath.
- Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.
That’s it! That’s the practice. You go away, you come back, and you try to do it as kindly as possible.
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In this fast-moving external world, we have lost our inner connection. Every day is a struggle. Everyone is fighting for some position. You don’t have time for yourself.
You are always trying too hard to get noticed. But have you ever noticed your inner world?
You are always running after something. But have you ever taken a simple walk in your inner kingdom?
You are always frustrated after your hectic appointments. But did you schedule any internal meetings?
This is the time to answer all these questions by learning how to practice mindfulness.
1. Live in the Moment
Enjoy your present without connecting the events with your past and future. You don’t have to worry about anything because things unfold naturally.
Peel off all the insecurities and just concentrate on your work. Embrace the freshness of this moment to analyze the beauty of NOW.
Mindfulness means being aware of what is happening in the present moment.
In order to live this moment, you have to love your job, your surroundings, and your life. Do everything with pure joy.
Stop listening to all those people who try to dilute your presence. Instead, start doing all the things you always wanted to do. Start making a wish list of all the things that are close to your heart.
2. Accept Things as They Are
It is a human tendency to wish for better things. Nobody is satisfied with their present conditions. But a mindful person doesn’t judge. By accepting things, we realize their true worth.
Things are not good or bad. We create all the mental tags.
You are blessed with unique powers. So, build up your self-confidence and don’t try to modify your true personality. Surround yourself with people who accept you and have faith in you.
Do not change things because you can’t accept them. Change only those things in which you enjoy the whole process of learning new things.
3. Use the Power of Visualization
Whenever you are feeling down, close your eyes, and visualize your aim in life.
In a matter of seconds, you will be transported to your dreamland. It is an awesome place where you can freely do all the things you dream of.
You must take out some time for this exercise. You will definitely spend some quality time.
4. Practice Mindful Eating
Enjoy your food by chewing it properly. Chewing breaks down your food into small particles for proper digestion.
Eat food for nourishing your body only. Recognize your non-hunger triggers to break free from food cravings and compulsive overeating.
Do not upset your digestive system by eating more because this will have harmful effects on your body.
5. Start Your Day Without Any Gadgets
What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed each morning? If you check your phone, you are not alone.
Many people start their day by checking their phones. Instead of checking office emails or the notifications of your social media profiles, take out some time for meditation. If you want to learn how to practice mindfulness, you also have to learn how to meditate.
Plan out your whole day in a systematic manner. Don’t make any excuses and shift your focus towards this wonderful and productive exercise.
6. Accept Your Weak Points
Since nobody is perfect, you must accept your imperfections. If we are not fully aware of our mistakes, we may not only miss what is most significant in our lives but also fail to recognize our true potential.
Instead of suppressing your mistakes, analyze them mindfully. A successful person learns from mistakes only.
Highlight your weak points and start working on them. If you can’t solve your problem, ask for some assistance from trustworthy people. You will not become small by asking. Share your problems with your friends and stay away from ego clashes.
It doesn’t matter if they laugh at you. Today, they are laughing at your foolishness. Tomorrow, you will smile at their innocence.
7. Take Small Steps
Design your successful road map by taking small steps. As Rome was not built in one day, your dream plan will also take some time.
You must give preference to quality over quantity. There is no need to rush into anything. Otherwise, you will spoil the essence of the whole journey.
Take small breaks from your work. Go out for a weekend trip with your friends and family. Make small targets and celebrate all small achievements.
Start staying away from all the things that will deviate you from your real path. Don’t get carried away by the lavish lifestyle of the people, and don’t waste time on ‘overnight success’ stories.
In the long run, there is no shortcut to a successful life. Always remember one thing: slow and steady wins the race.
8. Wait Patiently
Having patience is key to learning how to practice mindfulness. Waiting at the red light, waiting for someone, or waiting in the line for something – all these examples are very common in our personal life.
The best way to tackle this problem is to shift your focus. Calm down and concentrate on the things around you. If this doesn’t work, focus on your breathing. You just have to observe your breathing pattern.
9. Free Yourself from All Distracting Thoughts
Thoughts are the temporary guest only. You are not your thoughts. So, don’t get carried away by all your disturbing thoughts.
In a state of mindfulness, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance only. You have the power to inflate or deflate their presence. You cannot stop these kinds of thoughts completely but as soon as they enter your mind, you must disconnect them from yourself.
Start writing a journal every day. Without thinking too much, jot down your true feelings. It proves to be a great stress buster. In this way, you will clear all the distracting thoughts.
10. End Your Day on a Positive Note
Before going to sleep, recollect all the sweet moments of the whole day. Appreciate all the sweet and small moments, and be thankful for everything.
Do not waste time getting irritated by stressful moments. You will get nothing in return except more stress Instead, analyze your depressing moments of the day and look out for a positive solution.
Everyone has their own struggles, but it is up to you how you handle them. You can start with these 10 tips on how to practice mindfulness so you can live a better and healthier life.
Have you ever wondered what it means to live in the present? Aren’t we all here, now, in the present?
Technically, yes, but for so many of us, we are only 10 percent here.
We are really living in our minds. We exist from day-to-day in a dream-like state where we’re not really connected to the world around us, nor centered in our own body or being.
Instead, we’re preoccupied with memories of the past, churning thoughts and worries about the future, and judgments and reactions to the few things we do see.
We’re literally missing out on most our own lives, which leaves us feeling shallow, empty and deeply unsettled.
The great news is you can learn to be more present and mindful. Here are 10 easy ways you can practice mindfulness in your daily life.
1. Eat mindfully.
When you scoff down your meal on autopilot while distracted by the television, computer or constant conversation, you miss out on the delicious taste and smell of your food. You’re also less likely to feel satisfied and nourished, because you ‘missed out’ on the fact that you ate.
It can be helpful to remember this phrase: When you eat, eat. When you drink, drink.
In other words, don’t attempt to do fifty other things when you sit down to a meal, coffee or green juice. Simply focus all of your attention on what is in front of you.
2. Walk mindfully.
Take a beautiful tip from spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh and “walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”
In others words, when you are out and about, pay attention occasionally to the movement of your body and your surroundings.
Notice as your feet connect with and leave the ground. Feel your muscles moving and supporting you.
Observe what is going on around you — the sights, sounds and life unfolding. You may be amazed to find a whole new world you hadn’t even noticed before.
3. Observe your breathing.
As Echkart Tolle once said, a single breath in and out is a meditation.
Your breathing occurs naturally and rhythmically. When you pay attention to it, it takes you out of your mind and into your body.
You momentarily free yourself from your churning thoughts, worries and fears, and you remind yourself of who you really are — your inner spirit, not your thoughts.
4. Connect with your senses.
Your senses — touch, smell, taste, sound and sight — are your gateway into the present moment.
But when you are lost in thought, you don’t experience what your senses are picking up.
Pause to soak up the beautiful aroma of your coffee. The salty ocean air. The beauty and diversity of flowers in your neighbourhood. The mouth-watering waft of wood-fire pizza coming from your local Italian restaurant as you pass it.
Notice how your clothing feels against your body. The soft clean bed sheets on your skin in the morning. The comforting warmth of your lover’s kiss. The grass under your feet. The sensation of water and suds on your hands as you do the washing up.
Put love and attention into the simple tasks of your day, and you will be amazed how much joy and peace they can bring you.
5. Pause between action.
Pause and listen to the sound of the phone ringing before answering it.
Pause and feel the weight of your body in your chair before beginning your work for the day.
Pause and feel the door handle of your home before you open it at the end of the day.
Putting mini pauses between actions in your day can ground you in your inner being, clear your mind, and provide you with fresh energy for the new task ahead.
Think of it like putting energetic bookends at the start and end of each activity.
6. Listen wholeheartedly.
Most of us never truly listen to people when they are speaking to us, because we’re too busy planning what to say next, judging what they are saying, or getting lost in daydreams altogether.
Next time you’re in a conversation, make it your goal to fully listen to what the other person is saying to you, without getting lost in your thoughts.
Trust that you will intuitvely know the right thing to say next when it’s your turn to speak.
7. Get lost in the flow of doing things you love.
We all have certain activities we love doing — they connect us with our inner spirit and bring us fully alive.
For you it could be cooking, dancing, singing, gardening, writing, painting, bushwalking, swimming or building Ikea furniture.
We love doing these things so much that we often lose ourselves in them. That is, we lose our smaller self — our churning thoughts and worries – because we are pouring all of our love and attention into the present moment.
Incorporate more flow activities in your weekly routine, and your happiness will skyrocket.
8. Mediate daily.
There’s no getting around it — meditation has huge benefits and increases your levels of energy, happiness, inspiration and inner peace.
It doesn’t have to take long. Even 10 minutes a day can have a positive impact on your life. It will also strengthen your mindfulness muscles, so you’ll find it much easier to become present throughout the day.
9. Travel or mix up your routine.
There’s more than one reason you feel amazing on holidays. When you’re in a new place, you automatically become more present and mindful — simply because there are so many new sights, sounds and smells to soak up.
Your senses take over for a short while and it frees you from your mind.
No travel plans? That’s fine. Mix up your routine — it will have the same effect.
Take a different route, stop at a new coffee shop, visit a new place locally or try something you’ve done done before like paddle boarding, cooking a new recipe or writing calligraphy.
10. Observe your thoughts and emotions.
You are not your thoughts — you are the observer of your thoughts. The fact that you can listen to them shows that they are not you. You are something higher and separate.
By simply becoming aware of your thoughts and non-judgmentally observing them as they come and go — like clouds passing in the sky — you are being more present. You are not getting caught up in your thoughts and forgetting that they are not you.
As you observe, resist the temptation to get carried away by a particular thought down a tunnel into the past or future. Picture your thoughts like trains at the station – you’re on the platform watching them come and go, but you’re not going to jump on and go for a ride.
Before you leave this article, I encourage you to take a moment to pause, take a deep breath, and sense what it’s like to be alive in this very moment. This moment is your life.
Mindfulness is the new buzzword and has gained traction over recent years. But what is all the hype about it and how can it be used to help us achieve our dreams? How many times have you been stressed out, overwhelmed and unsure what direction to take, especially with everything that is currently happening right now in the world?
With mindfulness we can learn to identify what is happening within our body and minds and create space in-between stimulus and response. Being able to take a step back and assess the situation, we will be better equipped to make improved business decisions which will naturally lead us to success.
Mindfulness is a holistic practice. The general idea is to observe physical sensations and psychological experiences, desires, emotions, feelings, thoughts. Given that a feeling is both a physical sensation and a thought process, the goal is to integrate body and mind in a heightened sense of awareness. That is, to understand that body and mind are not separate, and to learn to understand all sensations and their link to our thoughts.
Mindfulness is about developing the ability to not dwell in the past, not obsess about the future, but to concentrate on what is going on right now. But what does mindfulness do and how can it help?
1. Mindfulness and Resilience
A benefit of mindfulness is that it improves resiliency. Practising mindfulness helps you to approach situations positively instead of becoming overwhelmed and stressed out. Instead of getting caught up with the emotion of anger, failure, or envy, we can pause, breath, take a step back and choose not to engage with the emotion and move on. Over time we become less reactive and strong emotions will arise and fall away without being caught up in the story line.
You can carry out this task throughout the day by starting to become aware of having negative emotions you encounter throughout the day. Maybe a lead hasn’t happened, or a client isn’t happy with some of the work you have produced.
Start to identify what feelings and sensations are arising in the body, either with tightness in the chest, clenched jaw, or ruminating thoughts of failure. Once you have located the sensation, close your eyes, and take long deep breaths. Listen to your mind and the thoughts which are racing, know that they are just temporary and will pass. Once you identify and hear the thoughts but choose not to engage with them, they will pass through you more quickly and won’t impact your whole day.
To train in mindfulness you can start by sitting on a park bench or another public area every day for 5 minutes. Practice just looking ahead as people walk past, even if you are tempted to look away, continue to focus on looking ahead. You can focus on what people are wearing, the types of fabrics or colours they are dressed in. Anything that keeps your focus on the present. If you do this daily for a few weeks you can access the effects of the practice on the rest of your life.
“Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
2. Enhanced Task Performance
Mindfulness also helps to improve task performance. This is because it trains your brain to be better at concentrating because each time you notice your mind wandering off, you are intentionally bringing your attention back to the object you are focusing on.
For example, you are at work, you’re receiving loads of email, you’re receiving messages on your phone and you are trying to multitask and do a million things at once. The next time you find yourself doing this, stop, take a deep breath, turn off your email and phone notifications and focus on the task you have in front of you.
3. Goal Setting
With daily mindfulness, you provide yourself with the opportunity for consistent self-reflection. Here, you can thoroughly analyse your past successes and failures. With this clarity, you’ll be able to better plan and tackle your future goals. It can also create a place to pause and reflect. It’s a safe headspace to go to when things don’t go quite right, or if you’re unsure of the next move.
Additionally, you can set better, attainable goals. Developing self-awareness can help you decide which goals are self-appropriate. Maintaining goals that are realistic with your values, beliefs and life circumstances makes them easier to achieve and aligns you with what most matters to your life.
“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” – Pema Chödrön
By promoting mindfulness in your workday, you can identify habits which are helpful or unhelpful. No matter how much we love our jobs, who will look back on life wishing they spent more time responding to messages at midnight?
Recognising our thoughts and anxieties around not responding will help us to unravel the poor habits which keep us stressed out, overwhelmed and unhappy. When we notice we are engaging in these behaviours we can stop, pause, realize what we are doing and choose to put down the phone, walk away and get some rest. This will naturally lead to a more balanced work life as we learn to identify our needs, what would make us happy and start to implement small changes.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a focus on the present while being aware of your moment-to-moment thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and environment. This is done by paying attention to experience without judging how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking about. This practice involves gently noticing and accepting whatever you are experiencing. Mindfulness can be practiced almost anywhere and anytime. You can mindfully take a walk, mindfully eat a meal, or mindfully pet your dog – the possibilities are endless. If you’re used to multitasking without paying attention to one particular thing, or if you spend a lot of time feeling distracted, this might be a new experience for you. Give it a try and see how you feel!
How does it help with overall mental health?
Mindfulness can help with wellness because focusing on the present moment is incompatible with worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Take a moment now to remember times in your life when you felt anxious or depressed. When you were anxious, your thoughts were probably oriented toward what you feared might happen in the future. When you felt depressed, you might have been ruminating over upsetting experiences that happened in the past. In contrast, when you focus on the present moment, you are giving yourself a break from all those thoughts about the past and the future. Instead, you bring your full attention to the present moment. At times when practicing mindfulness, your mind will wander away from the present moment. Don’t be hard on yourself about it; just lightly notice that you had a wandering thought and then return your awareness to your experience in the present moment.
Can it help with sleep too?
Mindfulness can be a very effective technique to help with sleep, especially for those of us who have racing thoughts as we try to fall asleep or when we wake up during the night. By calming the mind, it’s possible to reach a mental and physical state perfect for sleep.
A few minutes of mindfulness practice before bed can help ease your mind and body to get ready for sleep.
Distracting thoughts will pop up as you practice; allow yourself to have them and do your best not to get too frustrated or overwhelmed when they do. Try putting a label on them before bringing your mind back to the present moment. For example, if you’re wanting to wind down for sleep but your to-do list for tomorrow is popping into your head, notice that your brain is planning for the future. Or, if you’re mentally replaying a conversation from earlier in the day, notice that your brain is processing the past. Then gently return your attention to the present. A helpful way to do this is to focus on your breathing. Take slow, deep breaths and notice how the air feels as it enters your body and leaves your body. To help release stress, take plenty of time as you exhale. It can help to visualize your breath going all the way down your body as you breathe out. This type of breathing promotes relaxation, which will help you sleep.
What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness is becoming more aware of where you are and what you’re doing, without becoming overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you. Mindfulness can help you find calm in the moment, appreciate yourself and the world around you, and help you react to stressful situations in more thoughtful, healthy ways.
Mindfulness is a natural quality that we all have. It’s available to us in every moment if we take the time to appreciate it. When we practice mindfulness, we’re practicing the art of creating space for ourselves: space to think, space to breathe, and space between ourselves and our reactions.
Some things to consider before practicing mindfulness:
You don’t need to buy anything. You can practice anywhere, there’s no need to go out and buy a special cushion or bench — all you need is to devote a little time and space to practicing your mindfulness skills everyday.
There’s no way to quiet your mind. A bliss state or out-of-body experience isn’t the goal. All you’re trying to do is pay attention to the present moment, without judgment.
Your mind will wander. As you practice paying attention to what’s going on in your body and mind at the present moment, you’ll find that many thoughts arise. Your mind might drift to something that happened yesterday, or meander to your to-do list — your mind will try to take you anywhere but where you are. But the wandering mind isn’t something to fear, it’s part of human nature, and it provides the “magic moment” for an essential piece of the mindfulness practice — this is the moment when you recognize that your mind has wandered. Because if you can notice that your mind has wandered, then you can consciously bring it back to the present moment.
The more you do this, the more likely you are to be able to do it again and again. And that beats walking around on autopilot any day (like getting to your destination without remembering the drive, or finding yourself with your hand in the bottom of a chip bag you only meant to snack a little from).
Your judgy brain will try to take over. The second part of the puzzle is the “without judgment” part. We’re all guilty of listening to the critic in our heads a little more than we should. (And to be fair, that critic may have saved you from disaster a few times — the key here is “more than we should”.) But, when we practice investigating our judgments and then letting them go or choosing to set them aside, we can learn to choose how we look at things and react to them.
When you practice mindfulness, try not to judge yourself for whatever thoughts pop up. Notice if judgments arise, make a mental note of them, and let them pass, recognizing the physical sensations they might leave in your body, and letting those pass as well.
While mindfulness might seem simple, it’s not necessarily all that easy. The real work is to make time every day to just keep doing it. Here’s a short practice to get you started:
How to practice Mindfulness
Take a seat. Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
Set a time limit. If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as 5 or 10 minutes.
Notice your body. You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, in lotus posture, you can kneel — all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.
Feel your breath. Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes out and as it goes in.
Notice when your mind has wandered. Inevitably, your attention will leave the sensations of the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing this — in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes — simply return your attention to the breath.
That’s it! That’s the practice. You go away, you come back, and you try to do it as kindly as possible.
Reviewed by Kaiser Permanente Clinical Ambassadors, including Mark Dreskin, MD, Sharon Smith, LPC, and/or David Kane, LCSW. September 2018.
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- About mindfulness
- Mindfulness exercises & tips
- How to learn mindfulness
- Is mindfulness right for me?
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What exercises can I try today?
- Mindfulness exercises to try
- Tips on getting the most from mindfulness exercises
Mindfulness exercises to try
Here are a few exercises you could try. You don’t need any special equipment:
- Mindful eating. This involves paying attention to the taste, sight and textures of what you eat. For example, when drinking a cup of tea or coffee you could focus on how hot and liquid it feels on your tongue, how sweet it tastes or watch the steam that it gives off.
- Mindful moving, walking or running. Notice the feeling of your body moving. You might notice the breeze against your skin, the feeling of your feet or hands against different textures on the ground or nearby surfaces, and the different smells that are around you.
- Body scan. This is where you move your attention slowly through different parts of the body, starting from the top of your head moving all the way down to the end of your toes. You could focus on feelings of warmth, tension, tingling or relaxation of different parts of your body.
- Mindful colouring and drawing. Focus on the colours and the sensation of your pencil against the paper, rather than trying to draw something in particular. You could use a mindfulness colouring book or download mindfulness colouring images.
- Mindful meditation. This involves sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing, your thoughts, sensations in your body and the things you can hear around you. Try to bring you focus back to the present if your mind starts to wander. Many people also find that yoga helps them to concentrate on their breathing and focus on the present moment. See our page on types of alternative and complementary therapy for more information meditation and yoga.
Different things work for different people, so if you don’t find one exercise useful, try another. You can also try adapting them so that they suit you and are easier to fit in with your daily life.
Watch Jonny explain a mindful eating exercise:
You can find more examples of exercises to try in our page on relaxation exercises. Some people find practising mindfulness in nature can have extra benefits – see our page of ideas to try in nature for suggestions.
“The mindfulness colouring really helps me unwind and relax in the evening. It promotes better sleep and I go to bed feeling ready to rest rather than anxious and wired.”
Tips on getting the most from mindfulness exercises
When you do any mindfulness exercise, the key steps are:
- Pay attention – for example, when you shower in the morning, make a special effort to really pay attention to the feel of the water on your skin.
- Notice – when your mind wanders, which is just what minds do, simply notice where your thoughts have drifted to.
- Choose and return – choose to bring your attention back to the present moment, usually by focusing on your breathing or another sensation in your body.
- Be aware and accept – notice and be aware of emotions you are feeling or sensations in your body. Try to observe and accept these feelings with friendly curiosity and without judgement.
- Be kind to yourself – remember that mindfulness is difficult to do and our minds will always wander. Try not to be critical of yourself. When you notice your mind wandering, you can just gently bring yourself back to the exercise.
It can also help to:
- Set aside regular time to practise. Regular short periods of mindful meditation can work better than occasional long ones. If you struggle to find the time, you might want to decide on one or two routine activities which you will try to do mindfully each day.
- Make yourself comfortable. It can help to do mindfulness in a space where you feel safe and comfortable and won’t be easily distracted.
- Go slowly. Try to build your practice slowly. Remember, you’re learning a new skill so it’ll take time to develop. Most people find it hard to sit and meditate for long periods of time at first, so try to do a few minutes and gradually build up to more.
- Be patient. There’s no need to set ambitious goals or put pressure on yourself. Many people find it takes a while to feel comfortable doing mindfulness exercises.
There’s an easy way and a hard way to practice mindfulness.
Posted Sep 30, 2015
- What Is Mindfulness?
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Mindfulness is a paradox. It’s the easiest thing in the world and the hardest thing in the world. Let me explain.
Look at your right hand. See the shades of color in your skin? Notice the lines on your palm and the lines that separate the segments of your fingers? Easy to see, right? You just brought mindfulness to your right hand in this moment.
Now, consider the task of facing your deepest grief and sorrow. Or reflect on how it might be for you to bring your attention to extreme physical pain, hour after hour. Much more difficult to bring your curious and open mindfulness to deep and real suffering, isn’t it?
But, you can cultivate your mindfulness. Here are 5 tips to find success with your mindfulness practice, whether you are new to mindfulness or someone who has been experiencing some hiccups in your practice.
Tip #1: Start with the easy stuff.
In order to boost your motivation and self-efficacy, build your mindfulness “muscle” by more closely sensing the natural warmth in your chest, the coolness of one sip of water, and the weight of your left foot when you take a step. At your next meal, pay attention to the flavors of not only your first few bites (the easiest parts of a meal to be mindful of) but several bites later.
Tip #2: Don’t meditate for 1 hour a day.
The traditional meditation lore has sometimes implored people to commit to 45 minutes to 1 hour of mindful sitting per day. This is wonderful for those who have high self-regulation and prudence, but as these are the least common character strengths around the globe, many people are excluded. There are now a large number of studies that show people benefit from brief mindfulness practices. And, neuroscience is revealing that brief meditation practice can cause important changes in our brains.
In terms of time, there is no magic number. Instead, start with what you are willing to do to establish a routine — perhaps 5 minutes a day? Carve out the time, no matter how little, by linking it with something that will help you remember to do it — with a meal, as you get out of bed each morning, or before you start your car. Be consistent.
Tip #3: Practice ANY type of mindfulness you wish.
Go where your motivation is highest. I once created a regular mindfulness practice out of watching one of my sons play in the sandbox. Every day after he came home from school, we would go outside. He would sit in the sandbox and play and I would sit in a chair, alongside of him, quietly following my breathing and giving him undivided mindful attention. Actually, playing in a sandbox has been shown to be very hypnotic and absorbing in itself so perhaps my son was meditating while I was mindfully meditating as well!
The point here is don’t feel your practice MUST be a sitting meditation. Remember that the word “mindful” is an adverb that can describe any action you are taking. What are you most motivated to make a regular habit? Mindful walking each morning? Mindful eating of a snack in the evening? Or, mindful breathing outside as you overlook your backyard? Follow your motivation. But, do make note that there is a big difference between “going for a walk” and “mindful walking.”
Tip #4: Forgive yourself, repeatedly.
There’s a lot to be said about being compassionate and forgiving with yourself, especially when it comes to building in a new self-care practice like mindfulness. And, researchers in self-compassion have been having a field-day around the many benefits that come from self-compassion. Here’s the gist of it applied here:
- When you forget to practice, forgive yourself.
- When you get lost in busy-ness, forgive yourself.
- When you are inconsistent with your daily practice, forgive yourself.
- When your mind wanders incessantly, forgive yourself.
- Spend MORE time thinking about what you did do than ruminating about what you didn’t do.
Tip #5: Use your natural energy sources.
When difficulties arise in your mindfulness practice, why not see them as par for the course? Since every person experiencing obstacles to meditation, why not view these as normal? Might you see them as opportunities to learn and grow from?
Your highest strengths of character (called “signature strengths” by scientists) are likely to be your best and most energizing parts of you. Why not use these to your advantage?
Whatever character strength you are high in, consider how you can use it to overcome what is getting in your way. For example, use your strength in gratitude when your mind starts to wander a lot (expressing gratitude that you have a mind and that you’re able to be aware when it wanders off!) Use your prudence strength to plan out a schedule. Use your humility when discomfort arises in your body and curiosity when your mind continues to wrap around a worry. Here’s an article offering examples for each of the 24 strengths and how you can bring them to your mindfulness practice (“24 ways to make mindfulness stickier”).
IвЂ™m so glad that youвЂ™ve found this page and are taking steps to learn how to practice mindfulness.
For many people, mindfulness sounds like a wonderful concept, but it’s sometimes a little too intangible for them to get a grip on, or too impractical a concept for them to make use of in their daily lives. They like the idea of mindfulness, but donвЂ™t know how to begin practicing mindfulness in a meaningful way.
Let’s face it, weвЂ™ve all heard about
“Living in the moment”.
At one time or another we all talk about it. In occasional moments of inspiration we pause to reflect and we think to ourselves,
‘Life is too short to spend time worrying about the future or the p ast.’
Unfortunately, most of us do no more with that inspiration. Most of us just go back to living on autopilot.
So stop for a moment right now, and consider once again just how valuable this present moment is. You are living it right now. This moment is all there truly is. If you can learn to master your mind and stay with this moment, you will transform your life into a far more liberating and joyous experience.
If you already practice meditation, or if you have tried some of the mindfulness exercises and the mindfulness activities on this site, you will have some grasp of what it is like to be mindful. Mindfulness is not just a fancy ideal. Mindfulness is real. Now itвЂ™s time to learn how to practice mindfulness in your life.
How to Practice Mindfulness
Become aware of this moment. You do not need to concentrate hard on it. Right now, within this moment there is a part of you that is saying “I am aware”, and nothing more.
Just stop for a moment and listen. Listen not to your thoughts, but to the space between your thoughts. That space is awareness . ItвЂ™s always there, always available to you. It is consciousness prior to thought, itвЂ™s your true self. the spiritual dimension of your being.
When you learn how to practice mindfulness, you learn to view life through the eyes of your true self.
There is no magical formula for turning mindfulness on, no button to press, no potion to take. All you must do is simply choose to become aware of this moment and to allow your true self, the clear light of “no-thought” to fill your awareness.
Most people find this a little tricky to master, but donвЂ™t be discouraged. These mindfulness exercises and mindfulness activities will help to “turn on the light” so to speak. You will also find that a focused mindfulness meditation exercise like listening to a mindfulness bell can really helps to develop your “mindfulness muscles”, leading to a much clearer mind and a much more peaceful outlook on life.
Exploring Mindfulness and Meditation
Meditation teaches you how to relax, how to concentrate and how to rise above all the thoughts that circulate in your mind. When you meditate, you spend time in the timeless. You listen to silence.
Take what you experience in meditation; the silence, the clarity, the awareness, and open your eyes. Go out into the world. Live your life with this presence of mind. This is the art of mindful living.
Using the Breath as an Anchor
For many people, mindfulness can seem like a bit of an intangible concept, and a difficult one to master as well. ItвЂ™s not as though you can pull a lever, press a button and вЂњhey presto. IвЂ™m in a state of mindfulness now and everything is perfectвЂќ. We are dealing with the mind here, and for most of us, the mind is a fairly undisciplined creature!
As I mentioned earlier, to become mindful simply requires a decision in this moment to вЂњbe awareвЂќ, but if youвЂ™ve tried some of these mindfulness exercises then youвЂ™ll know that itвЂ™s very easy to slip back into вЂњunawarenessвЂќ very quickly.
One of the best ways to anchor your awareness in this moment is to be mindful of your breathing. This is something that you can do anywhere, anytime. You might be driving home from work, mentally re-hashing all the things you did and said that day when all of a sudden a noise or movement catches your attention. You wake up to the moment and realize that you were lost in dreamland.
Now you simply make a new choice. You begin to pay attention to your breathing. Your mind follows the in and out movement of your breath, and the feeling of your chest gently expanding and contracting.
Resolve to keep your awareness with your breathing. You are still perfectly capable of walking around or performing any other action while you do this. Mindfulness is not about avoiding life or вЂњzoning out from realityвЂќ. Nor is mindfulness about suppressing thoughts or feelings.
Whatever you experience in this world, whatever you think and feel, breathe it in, then breathe it out. Be conscious and aware of your experience, without judging. Just be. Just breathe. Live freely in this state of mindfulness.
How to practice mindfulness? Choose to be mindful in this moment, then choose it again and again and again. Commit to living mindfully. It might seem like a lot of work to start with, but with time and practice, youвЂ™ll find that mindfulness gradually becomes a natural state of mind, and you’ll experience all the benefits of mindfulness with relative ease.
Specialized mindfulness bells are a fantastic tool for developing a great mindfulness technique.
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