Mindfulness is moment to moment, non-judgmental awareness, paying attention to life as it unfolds. Mindfulness invites us to be aware of our thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations – without judgment. Rather than categorize an experience as good or bad, we are encouraged to simply be open to “what is” and consider accepting things as they are. In time, we learn to be compassionate toward ourselves – and others – responding to our experience in a loving and kind way.
Bringing focus and awareness to everyday events and ordinary activities is a simple way to begin or nourish a meditation practice. If possible, let go of previous ideas and opinions about “meditation”. Replace thoughts or concerns about “getting there” with awareness and acceptance of “being here”. Take a few moments and deepen the breath, noticing life as it is, in this moment.
8 Suggestions for Practicing Daily
Mindfulness mediation does not need to be a mediation exercise at all but a process you can experience any time. Enjoy the ease of allowing your life, as it unfolds moment by moment each day, to be an informal yet sacred meditation. As Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance, suggests: “As best you can, tune in to the sensations in your body as they arise, linger, and fade away during each day. Bring a sense of allowing and letting be to those sensations…a sense of kindness to the sensation and yourself in the midst of it all.”
Keep in mind the following suggestions and bring an open mind to what you experience.
1. Experiment with beginning the day with awareness as you arise in the morning. A good place to start is cultivation mindfulness of the body – noticing the sensations of getting out of bed and taking the first few steps of the morning.
2. Bring awareness to the breath, feeling it move in and out of the body. Notice times when the breath is short and shallow – can you slow the breath down a bit?
3. Notice changes in your breathing pattern throughout the day and into the evening. What can you learn about yourself by becoming more aware of your breath?
4. Locate when and where the breath sensations are more vivid and follow these areas of the body, breath by breath.
5. Cultivate an awareness of the breath that includes the entire body. Imaging the whole body, breathing in and out, continuously.
6. Practice mindful, intuitive eating throughout the day. Try eating one mindful meal, beginning with gratitude and being mindful of each bite.
7. When you notice that the mind has wandered off, remember this is what minds do, so there is no need to judge.
8. When the mind wanders, without criticism or opinion, let the wandering be part of your awareness of the moment. With gentleness, simply escort your awareness back to the breath and to the sensations of the body.
Repeat these suggestions as many times as needed throughout the day and evening! Remember: we call this a mindfulness “practice”.
You can cultivate mindfulness by sitting, standing, walking and doing mindful movement such as yoga, and eating; and also by awareness during the activities of daily life such as brushing your teeth, taking a shower, working out, cooking, picking up the children and taking out the garbage. The real meditation is your life and how you inhabit your experiences moment by moment. Bringing an open-hearted, spacious and accepting awareness to all encounters of daily living is the rich soil from which compassion, kindness, patience and love can take root and flourish, creating a life of authenticity, equanimity and joy.