In our fast-paced world, it’s not uncommon to think of mindfulness as something separate from our daily lives—a task we complete, a box we tick. We set our timers, sit down to meditate, and then proceed with the rest of our day. However, true mindfulness extends far beyond the boundaries of meditation; it is meant to be a guiding force as we navigate the complexities of this human life.
Mindfulness meditation is considered a formal practice, and I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of maintaining a consistent personal practice. Personally, this involves starting each day with my early morning meditation. However, there are days where it is the informal practices, those brief ‘moments of mindfulness’ sprinkled through the day, that really anchor me and keep me feeling grounded and connected.
The spirit of mindfulness emerges when we seamlessly integrate clarity, kindness, and inner peace into the very fabric of our daily activities and interactions. This, my friends, is the essence of mindfulness—the ‘why’ that drives it. While the personal benefits we gain from our formal meditation practice are abundant, it’s our genuine intention that compels us to carry these insights beyond the meditation cushion and into the world.
So, how do we bridge this gap?
As we navigate our daily life, juggling family, work, friends, and leisure, including short informal mindfulness practices can be key. Think of these mindful moments as brief, rejuvenating snacks for the soul. In these moments, we pause to check in with our present experience, free from judgment or the desire to alter anything. We release our grip on thoughts and actions, instead focusing on the experience of the current moment, like asking ourselves “how is it now?”
It could be as simple as feeling our feet firmly planted on the floor, sensing the rhythm of our breath, or immersing ourselves in the symphony of sounds around us.
These fleeting pauses awaken us to the here and now, shifting our attention from the busyness of our racing minds to the embodied sensations of the moment. With time, both formal and informal mindfulness practices nurture and reinforce qualities such as patience, inner stability, and resilience, enhancing our interactions with the world, its people and ourselves.
In the realm of meditation, it’s natural to anticipate moments of serenity and the inner stillness, the ones we yearn to savor. Equally common, though, are the encounters with struggle and discomfort. Mindfulness invites us to welcome it all, serving as a reminder that, irrespective of our preferences, the grounding and clarity we seek are attainable when we approach life with a sense of openness, curiosity and kindness, without taking ourselves too seriously.
So, mindfulness is not another chore to be checked off a list or a practice confined to a cushion. It is a way of life, a sense of ease that informs our daily existence, enriching our connection with the world and ourselves. As we embrace mindfulness in all its forms, from formal meditation to momentary pauses, we embark on a journey of self-discovery and inner peace that transcends the confines of any timer or routine.
Let’s try a moment of mindfulness together now…
I’d like to share a simple yet profoundly effective tool for shifting from ‘doing’ into ‘being’—the breath. Just pausing to take a slower, fuller, more conscious breath can guide us from incessant thinking into the deeper experience of feeling, from rushing forward to receiving what is here, and from gripping so tightly to a moment that invites more ease. Let’s give it a try.
Focus your awareness on the pause at the end of your next exhale and let it linger.
- Then, when you’re ready, begin to draw in a long, slow, steady breath, without rush or strain – noticing the sense of fullness at the top of the inhalation.
- When the time feels right, release the breath slowly, observing how it feels to ride the natural “letting go” of the exhalation.
- Rest once more in the pool of ease that resides in the pause where the exhale is complete.
- Take a moment now to truly feel, from the inside out, this experience of being in your body, with the breath, and in the present moment.
This, my dear friends, is mindfulness in action. If you’d like, gently close your eyes and continue to savor this practice.
“When we approach mindfulness as something we “do”, it has a schedule with a start and a finish. When it’s about paying sincere attention, opening and learning, it becomes how we actually live.”
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