How to practice Mindfulness

We can practice Daily Mindfulness as part of life at any time, anywhere day or night. We are not trying to get somwhere else; instead we recognise that we are already here!  Mindfulness is integrated best when we combine informal and formal practice together.

Formal practice

is to set aside a period of time each day to meditate, either in a sitting or lying down position or through movement - using postures (like yoga) or walking.

A good place to start is by spending just ten minutes. Even with ten minutes a day we can begin to feel the benefit.

Informal practice

is to practice little and often throughout the day without necessarily  taking any more time.  It is important to be flexible. We can become aware of moments which can allow a space for Mindfulness.   Even 30 seconds of 'being' - regularly - coming right into the present moment, instead of thinking ahead or caught up with thoughts about the past, makes a significant difference. It is the regularity of the practice that really works.

Using cues or reminders to ‘wake up’ to the present moment throughout the day, is the informal way. We can continue with what we are doing but now in awareness of everything that is happening, as it is happening.

Purposefully look out for cues that would suit you - like the sound of the telephone ringing or the kettle boiling, the turn of your key in your front door, the traffic lights turning red.

We can choose to connect with ourselves in these moments, just as we are, instead of distractng oursleves. There are many times during the day when these 'spaces' appear. It is simple, as long as we can recognise the possibliity that these moments offer. You can choose not  to send a text and just be with yourself! Identifying these moments is the key. Why not write a list of the ones you can think of?

For example -

Walking from one room to another

Waiting in a queue anywhere

Washing up

Walking from a shop to your car or bus stop

Putting out the rubbish

Take washing up as an example : this is usually a chore that gets done as quickly as possible and with as little attention as possible - our minds are somewhere else.

When we wash up Mindfully, we focus on what we are doing with interest and attention and no judgment!  We notice the feel of the water on our hands and the way our hands move skilfully to accomplish this job. We notice the feel of our posture leaning over the sink, the sound of the water, the bubbles and the shiny look of the dishes as we clean them. We notice the hard, stuck-on food and the effort required to remove it. We notice our thoughts and feelings - perhaps we are totally fed up that that we are doing the washing up yet again!  We notice, as best we can, perhaps the furious thoughts and feelings about this. At the same time we notice the sensations of our hands moving as we rinse the dishes with water under the tap. We keep on noticing everything as best we can including thoughts and feelings as we wash up, without changing them. We simply notice them and let them come and go as they will. When we realise that our attention has gone off yet again, that we have become distracted and caught up in a storyline of thinking (whatever the thoughts are and we were no longer in the present), we congratuatle ourselves - this is a moment of Mindfulness!  Then we come back and continue, paying attention to what we are doing, with the same friendly, open curiosity  towards ourselves and our experience, as before.  It's important to recognise that we pay attention with the same approach, whatever we are thinkng or feeling, whether we are furious, bored or feeling happy.  Unliess we realise this, Mindfulness can seem like attaining some peaceful la la land where we are permenantly happy.

Washing up and other activities during the day can become an interesting and even pleasurable part of our lives if we do them Mindfully. Now it has been scientfically proven that being in the present moment does acutaully make us happier. http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_killingsworth_want_to_be_happier_stay_in_the_moment.html

It’s not what we do, it’s where we come from when we are doing it that is the Mindful way.

Being Mindful isn't difficult. Remembering is the hard part!  It's not our usual habit and habits die hard. It has been said that it takes 66 days to develop a new habit and Mindfulness can feel counter intuitive to our usual way.   It's very useful therefore, to come together with other people for support and guidance to develop the new habit of Daily Mindfulness.

"I am missing the course, practising together has a different power and energy. The guided meditations I found very relaxing. There is something about your presence attuned to us as a group, which has an energy which is palpable". Nicola

As I said the most effective way is to combine both practices; formal and informal. When we do this and Daily MIndfuness becomes the new habit; our lives can change in ways we may not have imagined possible.