When you next go for a walk, why not meditate as you go? One of the biggest obstacles to meditating for many people is time. Finding some dedicated time in your day for formal meditation practice can be challenging. If you are struggling with this you could try a walking meditation. Ditch the phone, music, podcasts or whatever you use to keep you company while you walk and try mindfulness instead.
What is Walking Meditation?
Walking meditation is a mindfulness practice that you do while walking. It is usually done at a slower pace than your regular walking for exercise. Unlike most meditation practices, it is done on the move with your eyes open, your body moving, and an awareness of your surrounding environment.
Walking meditation works best outside in a natural environment rather than inside on a treadmill. But don’t let that deter you from starting the practice. If inside is all you have then that will also work.
It is ideal for those that find it difficult to sit still and focus for too long. If you are struggling with your sitting meditation practice then walking meditation may be an easier practice for you to begin with.
How to Meditate While Walking
When you start out, be mindful of your body and your surroundings.
Walk slowly, without rushing, and allow yourself to become aware of your breathing.
Focus on your “in” breath and on your “out” breath. Do not alter or attempt to control your breathing, simply observe it.
As you walk say to yourself “in” for each step that you take on your in breath, and “out” for each step that you take on your out breath. A typical pattern is “in”, “in”, “in”, “out”, “out”, “out”, but this varies from person to person and will depend on your pace and level of exertion. You may find that you take four steps to each breath instead. So long as you are comfortable and relaxed, it’s all good.
The point is to simply be aware of your breathing, and the counting will help you to keep your focus on your breath. Or you may like to say “peace”, “peace”, “peace”, “joy”, “joy”, “joy”, or other words that you find uplifting.
While focusing on your breath you can also be aware of your surroundings. Notice what is going on around you and within you.
Benefits of Walking Meditation
As with all meditation, the principal benefit is to bring one’s awareness back to the present moment, rather than being absorbed in the events of the past or speculating about the future. This full awareness of the present moment, free from the distractions of the ego, is said to be the key to a truly peaceful state of mind. The more you practice mindfulness, the more you will be able to be mindfully present in your everyday life.
Walking meditation may help to relieve a disturbed sleeping pattern, and will help to encourage a calmer and more relaxed state of mind throughout the day. If practiced regularly you will begin to notice benefits like less stress and anxiety.
You will also get the benefits that come from regular exercise. You are moving your body and that is always a good thing for your health and mental well-being.
Walking and Sitting Meditation
Walking meditation provides a rhythm and structure which can help people who struggle to stay focused during sitting meditation. Practicing walking meditation in no way precludes the practice of sitting meditation; indeed the two methods are complementary. If walking meditation helps you to calm your mind, then you may subsequently find sitting meditation easier.
While a beautiful, peaceful, natural environment is the ideal place to practice walking meditation, it is quite possible to use it to achieve inner calm in noisy environments, such as an airport. It is often in such stressful settings that people have the greatest need for the peace that walking meditation may bring.
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
What would it be like to free yourself from limitations and soar beyond your boundaries? What can you do each day to discover inner peace and serenity? The Untethered Soul—now a #1New York Times bestseller—offers simple yet profound answers to these questions. This book will transform your relationship with yourself and the world around you. You’ll discover what you can do to put an end to the habitual thoughts and emotions that limit your consciousness. By tapping into traditions of meditation and mindfulness, author and spiritual teacher Michael A. Singer shows how the development of consciousness can enable us all to dwell in the present moment and let go of painful thoughts and memories that keep us from achieving happiness and self-realization.
This book has opened me up to so many new ways of thinking and so many new techniques to add to my meditation and mindfulness practices. I took so many notes while reading this book because I didn’t want to forget any of it. I won’t put them all in here, but instead, I urge you to buy this book and read it now. Don’t wait. The information is it is too valuable. It has already helped me much more than any other book I have read in a long while.
Here’s what I learned from The Untethered Soul:
(This is just a small selection of my notes. There is so much more. Seriously – read it yourself ASAP):
There is a voice in your head that chatters incessantly. The only way to stop it is to step back and view it objectively.
This voice is just a vocalizing mechanism makes it seem like someone is in there talking to you.
It is not you. If you’re hearing it talk, it’s obviously not you. You are the one who hears the voice. You are the one who notices that it’s talking.
Much of what the voice says is meaningless, a waste of time and energy.
Eventually, you will see that the real cause of problems is not life itself. It’s the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes problems.
This narration from the voice helps to make you feel more comfortable with the world around you.
True personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection. This is done by constantly remembering that you are the one inside that notices the voice talking. That is the way out.
You live in the seat of consciousness. You are behind everything, just watching. That is your true home. Take everything else away and you’re still there, aware that everything is gone. But take the center of awareness away and there is nothing. That center is the seat of self. The great mystery begins once you take that seat deep within.
Contemplating the source of consciousness, this is true meditation. For the deepest meditation, you must not only have the ability to focus your consciousness completely on one object, you must also have the ability to make awareness itself be that object. In the highest state, the focus of consciousness is turned back to the Self.
Opening your heart allows energy in and closing blocks it out. If you want to stay open, pay attention when you feel love and enthusiasm. Then ask yourself why you can’t feel this all the time. The more you stay open, the more energy flow can build. At some point, so much energy comes into you that it starts flowing out of you. You feel it as waves pouring off of you.
You can affect other people and your own body with the flow of your energy.
Through meditation, through awareness, and willful efforts, you can learn to keep your centers open.
Everything that did not make it through you (a cycle of stored past energy patterns), from the time you were a baby all the way to this moment, is still inside you. That encrustation builds up and restricts the energy flow.
You are either trying to push energies away because they bother you, or you are trying to keep energies close because you like them. In both cases, you are not letting them pass, and you are wasting precious energy by blocking the flow through resisting and clinging.
The alternative is to enjoy life instead of clinging to it or pushing it away. If you can live like that, each moment will change you.
Unending inspiration, unending love, and unending openness, is the natural state of a healthy heart.
To achieve this state, simply allow the experiences of life to come in and pass through your being. If old energies come back up because you were unable to process them before, let go of them now.
Just open, relax your heart, forgive, laugh or do anything you want. Just don’t push it back down. It was stored with pain, it’s going to release with pain. It only hurts for a minute and then it’s over.
Learn to be centered enough to just watch this stuff come up. Once you sit deeply enough inside to stop fighting the stored energy patterns they’ll come up constantly and pass right through you. Your heart will become accustomed to the process of releasing and cleansing.
Your reward is a permanently open heart.
You will get there.
Just keep letting go.
If you aren’t centered, your consciousness is just following whatever catches its attention. Your energy (and life) is very scattered.
If you want to be free, then every time you feel any change in the energy flow, relax behind it.
If you can learn to remain centered with the smaller things, you will see that you can also remain centered with bigger things.
There’s a place deep inside of you where the consciousness touches the energy, and the energy touches the consciousness. That’s where your work is. From that place, you let go.
You can do one of two things with fear: you can recognize that you have it and work to release it, or you can keep it and try to hide from it.
Decide not to fight with life.
Fear is the cause of all problems.
Unfortunately … we’re not really trying to be free of our stuff, we’re trying to justify keeping it.
You free yourself by finding yourself. You are the one who notices things. The one who notices is already free.
You are either trying to stop suffering, controlling your environment to avoid suffering or worrying about suffering in the future. This state of affairs is so prevalent that you don’t see it.
That constant, anxious inner talk is a form of suffering.
The advice your mind is trying to give you is psychologically damaged advice.
That is what all the noise is inside your mind, an attempt to avoid the stored pain.
To go beyond, you must keep going past the limits that you put on things. This requires changes at the core of your being.
You are constantly trying to stay inside your comfort zone. The moment somebody starts behaving in a way that is outside your expectations, your mind starts talking. Telling you to fix it.
You are consciousness, and you can free yourself from all of this by relaxing behind it.
You just decide, once and for all, to take the journey by constantly letting go.
The purpose of your life is to enjoy and learn from your experiences.
You were born and you are going to die. During the time in between, you get to choose whether or not you want to enjoy the experience.
No matter what happens, just don’t close your heart.
Meditation strengthens your center of consciousness so that you are always aware enough to not allow your heart to close.
“It’s safe to say that the only thing most people know for sure about enlightenment is that they are not there.”
The key action that I have taken from all this is how to let go. Most of what I have read before tells you that you should let go, of the past, of your stress and worries, of your pains. But they either didn’t explain how to do it, or I just didn’t get it at the time. This book has shown me how to deal with pain, emotions, and thoughts as they come up. The bonus for me is that I am now putting it into action. Once I recognize the issue I can take a step back and feel it, usually, it is a physical sensation in the heart or gut. Once I can feel it, I can observe it, acknowledge it, and let it go. I can also now physically feel the release, and the calm once it is gone. I can feel my heart opening.
This knowledge is great, but without being able to step back and recognize these moments you can’t put it into practice. This is where meditation and mindfulness have helped me become more aware of my thoughts and feelings as they are happening. It is not always perfect, and it doesn’t always work, but I keep practicing because I see and feel the results.
Read this book. You won’t regret it.
Buy it now:
Watch Michael talk on “Living Life Mindfully” here:
If you change your brain, you can change your life. By combining breakthroughs in neuroscience with insights from thousands of years of mindfulness practice, you too can use your mind to shape your brain for greater happiness, love, and wisdom. This book presents an unprecedented intersection of psychology, neurology, and contemplative practice, and is filled with practical tools and skills that you can use every day to tap the unused potential of your brain and rewire it over time for greater well-being and peace of mind.
This book further supports for me, the overwhelmingly strong indication that regular meditation and mindfulness are essential if you want more joy and happiness in your life. Along with some great insights on equanimity, empathy and compassion, it gave me some practical actions to take to develop my daily practice.
It is often easy to let the mind talk me into quitting my daily practice because, “what’s it really doing anyway”. Great books like this not only help to reaffirm my intention to meditate and practice mindfulness daily, but also give me more tools to keep me learning and growing.
Here’s what I learned from Buddha’s Brain:
The mind is what the brain does.
Our suffering, which is the result of our unhappiness and dissatisfaction, is entirely made up by the brain.
If the brain causes our suffering, we can also use the brain to cure it.
Nurturing your own development is a great gift to the people around you.
Small positive actions every day will add up to large changes over time. You can gradually build new neural pathways with these small steps.
“Wholesome changes in the brains of many people could help tip the world in a better direction”.
Equanimity means “even mind”. What passes through your mind is held with spaciousness so you stay even-keeled and aren’t thrown off balance. Equanimity is neither apathy nor indifference, you are warmly engaged with the world but not troubled by it. The spaciousness of equanimity is a great support for compassion, kindness and joy at the happiness of others.
ACTION: Set aside some time in your day – even just a minute long – to consciously release preferences for or against anything. Then extend this practice to more and more of your day. You will find yourself being guided increasingly by your values and virtues, instead of simply reacting to positive or negative feeling tones.
Empathy is the foundation of any meaningful relationship. Inadequate empathy erodes trust and makes it harder to solve interpersonal problems.
ACTION: Bring conscious intention to being empathic. Take a few seconds to remind yourself to be empathic and that it feels good to be empathic. Next, relax your body and mind and open to the other person as much as feels right to you. Notice the other person’s movements, stance, gestures and actions. What would it feel like, in your own body, to do them? Watch the other person’s face and eyes closely for facial micro expressions. Actively imaging what the other person could be thinking and wanting.
Cultivate compassion deliberately
ACTION: Kindness is expressed mainly in small, every-day ways. Throughout the day, deliberately and actively bring kindness into your actions, your speech, and most of all, your thoughts.
ACTION: Look for things to be happy about, and take in the good whenever possible. Positive feelings calm the body, quiet the mind, create a buffer against stress, and foster supportive relationships, all of which reduce ill will. See the video below for a practical way to hardwire happiness.
When your attention is steady, so is your mind. Attention is like a spotlight, and what it illuminates streams into your mind and shapes your brain. Consequently, developing a better control over your attention is perhaps the single most powerful way to reshape your brain and thus your mind.
ACTION: Set your intentions. Establish a deliberate intention at the beginning of any activity that requires focus. “May my mind be steady”. Keep reestablishing your intentions. Make the intention to be attentive the default setting of your life by developing the habit of everyday mindfulness. Use routine events – phone ringing, going to the bathroom, drinking water – as ‘temple bells’ to return you to a sense of centeredness.
When you relax the sense of self and flow with life, you feel happy and satisfied.
“All joy in this world comes from wanting others to be happy, and all suffering in this world comes from wanting only oneself to be happy” – Shantideva
How often do you get to the end of a meal and don’t even remember if you enjoyed what you were eating? Do you shovel the food into your mouth without noticing how it tastes, smells or feels? Most of the time we eat without thinking. We are too busy talking or watching TV or checking our phones for the latest update, and before we know it the meal has finished. It has passed by in a blur without you really enjoying it. Practicing mindful eating is a great way to bring your attention back to your food so that you can savor it again.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindfulness is about bringing your attention to the present moment. Conscious eating involves focusing on your thoughts, feelings and sensations while you are eating. Many of us would like to change something about the types of food we eat or how often or how much we eat. Changing your eating habits can be difficult. Eating mindfully is a great way to begin changing your eating habits and building on your mindfulness practice at the same time.
How to Eat Mindfully
Do this for one meal a day for a week.
Mindful Eating Exercise
Sit comfortably and leave the food in front of you.
Take a few deep breaths and feel your body sitting on the chair.
Bring your attention to what you are eating. Look at the food on your plate, really see it.
Explore with curiosity. How does it look and smell? Look at the colors, shapes and textures.
If you can, pick it up. How does it feel in your hand?
Put some into your mouth and then put down your fork. Pay attention to the sensations you feel. Is it hot or cold, hard or soft? How does it taste and feel in your mouth? Is it sweet or sour, mild or strong in flavor?
Chew slowly as you pay attention to these sensations. What does it feel like on your tongue and teeth. Has the flavor changed? How does it make you feel emotionally. How do you feel as you chew and swallow it?
Swallow your food and notice how it feels as it goes down your throat and into your stomach. Can you feel it all the way down? How does it make you feel?
Do you notice any leftover flavors in your mouth?
Pause during your meal to breathe mindfully and then start again with the next bite.
Repeat this practice until you are no longer hungry. It is important to only eat until you are satiated, not full.
How to Practice Mindful Eating
Then move on to paying attention to other thoughts and feelings:
Notice your urges to eat, are they motivated by hunger or emotion?
Notice your emotions during and after eating. Do you feel different?
Think about where your food is coming from and the people involved in the process of getting it to your plate.
Then you can introduce mindfulness into your food preparation as well.
Another mindful eating activity you can also try is when you are in social occasions. This can be more difficult but not impossible.
If all of that sounds too difficult for you to tackle at once, then try this mindful eating exercise. Start with just one mindful bite a day, or one mindful sip of tea or coffee. Anyone can do that. Then build on your practice over time. Take small steps to ensure your success. It takes time, but with regular practice you can introduce mindful eating into your life.
Benefits of Mindful Eating
The benefits of practicing mindfulness in your daily life include reduced levels of stress, improved immune system and improved general wellbeing. Bring mindfulness and eating together and you gain some added benefits.
Learn to really enjoy and savor your food.
Make healthier choices because you are paying attention to your food and what your body needs.
You may discover any emotional issues you have with food.
You will be less inclined to overeat and as a result may lose weight if you are currently overweight. While mindful eating for weight loss should not be your primary motivation, it can be a pleasant side effect.
Reduce or eliminate any digestive issues you may have.
You can use it as a tool to help with chronic eating problems.
Learn how different foods affect your energy levels and mood throughout the day.
As a result, you can learn what foods are best for your body.
Like with meditation and mindfulness, you don’t need years of practice to see some of these benefits. You will start to notice them right away.
Quick Mindful Eating Tips for Success
Start small, with one bit or one sip.
Put a reminder where you will see it to “eat mindfully”. On the fridge, the kitchen bench or table.
Try eating mindfully with different types of foods, a strawberry or grape, a piece of chocolate, a glass of wine. Even try foods you don’t like. Pick something different each day.
If you forget, don’t worry about it, just start again when you remember.
Slow down. Eating slowly
Mindful eating is a form of meditation. It is about slowing down, being present and savoring life. Remember to practice when you can and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Mindful Eating Books
If you want to explore further you can try some of these books on mindful eating.
If you think you may need some help to encourage you to practice you can try a mindful eating app to help with reminders and advice.
The Mindful Meal Timer for Android will help you to practice mindful and intuitive eating. You will be guided to slow down your eating to engage your senses. It will help you focus on being present with your food, and allow you to feel your fullness as it sets in so you do not overeat. Free.
In The Moment on iOS is a light-hearted app that will help guide you to better food choices when your hunger hits and quick options are needed. It helps you to create some space between your urges and the choices you make. $1.99.
Mindful Bite on iOS is a simple app that will help you slow down between bites, and remind you to stop eating when you are no longer hungry. $1.49.
10% Happier by Dan Harris is part memoir part practical guide to mindfulness and meditation. Dan, a TV news anchor, talks about his on air meltdown and drug abuse and how meditation helped him. It is a great primer for understanding mindfulness and meditation and how to use them in your daily life.
What I learned from this book:
We all have a voice in our head. Some of us don’t even realise it.
This voice is fixated on the past and the future. If we give in to it, it prevents us from living in the present moment.
We can all learn a skill that helps us to quiet this voice – meditation.
You can meditate anywhere. Anyone can do it. It is free.
With practice, we can better at it.
Meditation practice creates a space or gap in the voice which allows us to see our negative emotional response to situations, like annoyance, fear and anger, and allows us to choose how we respond to them, instead of simply reacting.
Science shows us that meditation actually rewires the brain.
The Buddhists analogy: “Picture the mind like a waterfall, they said: the water is the torrent of thoughts and emotions; mindfulness is the space behind the waterfall”.
Continuous stress is living each moment as if it is never quite good enough, that it will be better in the next one (some later moment in time). To be somewhere else, to have something else, to be someone else, to never have enough, to never be good enough. This all creates stress and worry and prevents us from being happy.
Meditation won’t solve all your problems, but it will help you handle them better, which will lead to less stress.
Happiness is a skill.
Practice non-attachment, if you are not attached to results or outcomes you won’t fall apart when things don’t turn out.
Practice self-compassion to improve resilience.
Everyone’s mind is out of control. You can never entirely ‘clear your mind’.
You can’t control what comes up, only how you respond to it.
We can all be 10% happier with a little effort.
I enjoyed reading about Dan’s journey and his discoveries when speaking to the self-help “gurus”. If you are skeptical in nature, like I am, then he will resonate with you.
Mindfulness has numerous benefits that make it a good practice to introduce and cultivate. It helps to give you some control over your mind, your thoughts and feelings. Practicing mindfulness techniques for just a few minutes a day can improve your health and wellbeing.
When you are starting out, it is better to keep it simple. Try some of these easy mindfulness exercises to help you find some calm in your day.
30 Seconds of Mindfulness
Take 10 deep, even breaths, counting to 3 or 4 on each inhale and the same on each exhale. Try to stay focused on your breath, and if your mind wanders just return your attention back to your breath. Then simply notice how you feel when you are done. Are you more relaxed and calmer than before? This is a great way to start your mindfulness practice exercises. You can do this anywhere you like and whenever you think of it.
Mindful breathing exercise.
This mindfulness technique can make you more centered and peaceful while you are doing it, and you can take that with you through your day. Build your practice with a minute or more each day to start with. Then each week, when you are comfortable, increase your time by a few minutes.
Set a timer for a minute.
Focus on your breath and try to make it even, in for 3 out for 3.
Bring your attention to where you feel the breath most, the nose, chest or stomach.
Let go of any thoughts you notice without judgement and return to the breath.
Do this until the timer goes off.
Take a few minutes to scan your body for feelings and sensations. Start at the head or toes, and spend a moment on each part of your body looking for tension or other sensations. If you mind wanders simply bring it back to the body without judgement. When you have done each body part, you can then expand your awareness to encompass your whole body. This mindful meditation exercise can be short or long, it’s up to you.
Choose an object near you to be the focus of your mindfulness. This can be a piece of fruit, a flower or plant, a plate or glass, anything at all. Look at the object and try to remain focused on it for as long as you can. Try to notice it as if you were seeing it for the first time. What color is it? What shape is it? If your mind starts to wander, just notice and bring it back to your object. Really looking at something and giving it your full attention can enhance and improve your mindfulness.
Choose one meal a day to eat without distractions. No TV, radio, phone or reading. Focus your attention solely on what you are eating. How it looks, how it feels, smells and tastes. Savor each mouthful slowly and with purpose. Think about where your food came from and everyone who was involved in getting it to your plate. Give thanks to these people. How do you feel afterwards? Did you really enjoy your food? Many of us eat too quickly without really enjoying what we are eating. This simple mindful exercise can change that for us. Eating mindfully can help bring more calm to your day.
Stop what you are doing and simply notice what you are experiencing right now, wherever you are. What can you hear? What can you see? What can you feel? What can you smell? Spend a few moments on each sense, noticing what you can. Being more aware of your surroundings will help you be more present in your life.
While you are walking, clear your mind and focus on your body and your breathing. Feel the ground beneath your feet. Feel the muscles in your legs. The wind on your skin. The fresh air in your lungs. Observe your surroundings as you walk, look at the sky and the view and other people around you. Enjoy being in the present moment.
Put some music on and really listen to it. Give your awareness to the music without judging it as good or bad. Immerse yourself in the sound. Try to hear the different instruments that make up the music. Notice how it makes you feel. Is it relaxing or energising? Does it make you want to move or dance? Does it make you feel happy or sad? You can use this exercise to listen to your favorite music with a new appreciation, or to new music with curiosity and appreciation.
Mindful Immersion Activity
Choose an everyday routine activity, like washing the dishes, unloading the dishwasher, doing the vacuuming or brushing your teeth. Rather than thinking about something else, focus your attention on the what you are doing. Feel the sensations it creates in your body. These types of mindfulness activities can transform a mundane task into something you can enjoy. Choose one task each day to practice your mindfulness.
Spend a few minutes during your day to focus on your senses.
Sit comfortably with your back straight, or lay on the floor. Take a few deep breaths and relax your body.
Start to focus your attention on your breath as it goes in and out of your body.
When you notice your mind wandering, just observe without judgment and return to the breath.
Then move your attention to any sounds you can hear around you. The sounds of your breath and body. Sounds in the room you are in. Then expand to what you can hear further away from you.
Next, focus on what you can smell. Notice any strong scents you can pick up on. There may be faint smells or you may smell nothing at all. Notice that as well.
Bring your attention to taste. Can you taste anything at all? Notice and be aware of what you may or may not be tasting right now.
Now bring your attention to what you are feeling in your body. Feel where your skin is in contact with your clothes or the chair or the floor. Feel the air on your body. Are you warm or cool? Notice any sensations you feel inside your body, any warmth or tingling.
With closed eyes, visualise the room you are in. The colors and shapes surrounding you. The pictures on the wall and furniture in the room.
Spend a few moments noticing your thoughts and your mind. Are they racing around in the past or the future, or calmly floating by? Or are they completely in the present moment?
When you time is up, gently open your eyes and look around you. How do you feel? Are you more relaxed and peaceful than before? You can take this relaxed, calm feeling into your day.
These activities for mindfulness are a great place to start as many of them are easy to introduce into your everyday life. Do one of them each day for a week and notice how you feel. You can keep practicing with your favorite ones each day, but you should always try to explore new mindfulness activities regularly to stretch yourself.
Other Mindful Breathing Exercises
Sit or lie comfortably with your back straight.
Take a few deep breaths and relax your body.
Let your breathing be natural and start to count on each exhale…
Count to five and then start at one again.
If your mind wanders return your focus to the breath and start from one again.
Do this for a set amount of time, 5 or 10 minutes.
If you find yourself counting past five it probably means your attention has moved away from your breath. If so, start at one again.
Set a timer for 5 minutes.
Sit comfortably and relax your body.
Breathe in to a count of five seconds.
Hold your breath for five seconds and continue to expand your chest upward and outward.
Breathe out for five seconds.
Hold your breath for five seconds.
Repeat until your time is up.
If you cannot make five seconds you can start smaller. Just make sure the timing is the same. In for three, hold for three, out for three, hold for three. This will help improve your heart rate variability and improve your mindfulness.
Breath Matching Your Heartbeat
Place two fingers against your pulse at the top of your neck just below your jaw.
Breathe in for 10 heartbeats.
Breathe out for 10 heartbeats.
Repeat until your time is up.
You can start with fewer heartbeats and work your way up if you need to. See if you can increase to 20 heartbeats with regular practice.
Sit comfortably and place one hand on your chest and one on your belly.
Breathe fully into your diaphragm and feel your chest and belly rise .
Keep each breath steady and even.
Repeat for ten minutes.
Guided Mindfulness Exercises
When starting out with mindfulness and meditation, it can be easier using some guided audio to help keep you focused. There are plenty of great resources online with a variety of mindful activities you can try out. Here are a few to get you started:
Being more mindful has so many positive benefits that it makes it a great practice to introduce into your daily life. You can improve both your physical and mental health with just a few minutes a day. Practicing mindfulness is like practicing any other new skill. The more you do it, the better you become and the more positive benefits you will see.
There are a number of ways you can introduce mindfulness into your daily life. We will go through a few basic ways to practice mindfulness and give you some tips on when and where to fit it into your routine.
What is Mindfulness Practice?
Mindfulness is focusing your mind on the present moment. Being aware, on purpose, of what you are doing right now. You are not thinking of the past or planning the future. You are simply noticing your feelings and sensations relating to right now, without any judgement or criticism.
The Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness.
So, what do you get out of it? If nothing else, mindfulness will allow you to truly enjoy something. Whether you are spending time with your kids, family or friends, visiting your favourite place or having a meal, you can be present for it. So much of our lives pass us by because we are thinking instead of being. If you let your monkey mind control your life, you will miss it. Being able to enjoy your life is one of the best benefits of mindfulness practice.
As well as this, there are many ways that mindfulness practice improves your health and wellbeing. Studies show (see the resources below for links) that the practice of mindfulness can:
Boost your immune system
Decrease your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone
Lower your blood pressure
Reduce chronic pain
Make measurable changes in your brain in regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress
Improve your enjoyment of music
Boost your compassion
Decrease loneliness in the elderly
Help treat a number of mental health problems including depression, anxiety and pain
Improve your sleep
Help with substance abuse and eating disorders
There are very few habits that can have such a great impact on your health with such a little effort on your part.
When to Use Mindfulness in Daily Life?
Surely with all of those benefits you are now ready to start practicing mindfulness in daily life. So, what is a good time for your practice? That depends on whether you are starting with a formal practice of mindful meditation, or an informal practice of simply bringing awareness to your everyday activities. Let’s take a look at both.
Formal: Daily Mindfulness Practice can look like this:
First thing in the morning is best.
Sit or lie comfortably with your back straight, close your eyes, and relax your body.
Begin to focus on your breath as it goes in and out of your body.
Find an anchor, a place where you feel the breath most, usually the nose, chest or stomach.
When your mind wanders, notice it without judgement, let the thoughts go and return to your anchor.
When finished, notice how your body feels compared to before you started.
Informal: How to Practice Mindfulness Throughout Your Day:
When you first wake up in the morning and before you get out of bed, take a minute to bring your attention to your body and how it feels. Take a few mindful breaths. Then get on with your day.
When you are eating, take a few minutes to notice, smell and taste your food. Eat slowly and savor each bite, without any distractions. Think about all the people involved in getting that food to your plate and offer them gratitude.
Take a few moments throughout your day to notice your surroundings. You can do this at home, at work, at school, on your commute, when stopped at a red light, or while you are waiting for an appointment. Even if it is a familiar place, stop and look around, and really take it in.
Use regular activities or cues to trigger mindful breathing practice throughout your day. The phone ringing, checking the time, opening a door, or picking up keys. Any of these can be used to remind you to focus mindfully on your breath for a minute or two.
As you are going to sleep, take a minute to focus on your breath again. Take 3 deep, even breaths before you close your eyes.
Mindfulness Practice Exercises.
These mindful awareness practices will train you to pay attention in the present moment and help you to disengage from your mental clutter and have a clear mind.
Mindful breathing, as mentioned above, can be done anywhere and anytime you think of it. Still yourself and bring your attention to your breath.
Tune in to your body. Take a moment to feel the sensations in and on your body when walking, or washing your hands or taking a shower. Do this at anytime during the day that you think of it.
Mindful observation of an object. Choose something to observe with purpose. What color is it? What shape? Is there anything unusual about it? How does it feel? Something see everyday without a thought can become fascinating to look at.
Mindfulness during routine activities, like brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, or doing the housework. Purposefully notice what you are sensing, sights, smells, sound and touch.
Be curious about your life. It might seem mundane and repetitive at times, but purposeful awareness of your day can really make something seem like new again.
You can make anything or any activity the object of your mindfulness. Try different types of mindfulness to find what works for you. The more you practice mindfulness daily, the easier it will be.
Some Tips for a Successful Mindfulness Daily Practice:
Set an intention the night before you want to start that you will be mindful tomorrow.
Do it first thing in the morning upon waking. Starting the day with a positive action can make a big difference in your life.
Start small, with just a few minutes a day, and build on that over time.
Practice mindfulness anytime you are waiting during the day. When you are stuck in traffic, waiting in line at the shops or for an appointment. Focus on your breath or notice your surroundings.
Find your cues or triggers to mindfulness. Opening a door, picking up keys, having a tea or coffee. Use these cues to remind yourself to be mindful for a few minutes.
Once you have built a consistent mindfulness practice into your daily life you can introduce a mindful meditation practice and experiment with other types of meditation to help improve your health and mindset.