Mindfulness is the art of living in the present moment. Many of us go through life on autopilot. We focus too much on our thoughts and this can cause unhappiness. By living in the present we realize that a lot of our stress and anxiety is actually unnecessary.
1. Mindful Walking
Mindful walking can be practiced in your daily life. It brings you into the present moment, free of expectation or worry. Focus on nothing but the moment, and your surroundings. Take it all in. It’s okay if you don’t master it immediately, this takes practice!
Align your walking to the rhythm of your breath. This involves lifting one foot on the in-breath and lowering it on the out-breath. Practice this indoors until you feel comfortable enough to try it outside.
- Be aware
How does the ground feel beneath your feet? What is going on around you? What is your body doing? Any soreness or tightness?
2. Mindful Breathing
This simple discipline is about awareness of the breath. Most of us go through life without noticing this natural ebb-and-flow. Breathing mindfully brings you into the present moment, enabling you to cultivate a calmness of the mind. Here are a few pointers to help develop mindful breathing.
- Get Comfortable
Sit in a relaxed position, back straight. It doesn’t matter whether your eyes are open or closed, the main thing is being comfortable.
- Observe Your Breath
Simply observe each in and out breath you take. Notice the expansion of your stomach with each intake.
- Be non-critical
The aim is to focus the mind on breathing. Don’t worry if your mind wanders off – just try not to be critical! It may wander off a hundred times. Whenever you notice that, bring your focus back to your breath.
3. Mindful Eating
Eating is at the very heart of our well-being, and yet so many of us take it for granted. Mindful eating helps re-tune our awareness to the simple act of nourishment. By doing so, we cultivate a fresh appreciation for food and the environment around us in the here and now.
- Take Stock
Before practicing, have a look at your eating habits. Do you rush your meals? Are you eating while thinking of a million other things? Do you ever notice the taste sensations exploding on your palate?
When you have a meal, make sure you focus solely on the experience. No working while you eat, or surfing the web, or watching tv. Just let it be you, and your food in the moment.
- Be Sensitive
Use and observe your senses as you eat. Take a moment to feel the texture; be aware of the smells and appearance. Notice how different tastes affect you.
4. Mindful Attitude
It takes time to develop a mindful attitude. The cultivation of mindful habits, such as walking, eating and listening, creates the ground from which a truly mindful attitude emerges.
We are conditioned to make unnecessary judgements everyday. Part of developing a mindful attitude is learning not to judge everything. When there is a genuine need for a judgement, the mind is clear and the judgement wiser.
Mindfulness isn’t something that comes from being intellectually aware of the idea. We need to practice the art of being in the present moment every day, and this requires patience.
By constantly desiring things, we set ourselves up for disappointment. We create an almost permanent state of dissatisfaction. There is nothing to expect from mindfulness, nothing to achieve.
- Letting go
Clinging onto experience can cause us to get stuck and fill our minds with clutter. Allow it to come and go naturally.