Last updated on September 23rd, 2023.
If you’ve missed the overview of mindfulness in a previous article we definitely recommend going back and checking it out. In that article on mindfulness we touch briefly on how to practice creating awareness (being mindful) with an emphasis on what Mindfulness is but in this article we will be going into much more depth on three great ways to practice mindfulness.
Let’s jump right in. First off, there is the most common form of practicing mindfulness which is none other than: meditation. And, the great thing about meditation is that it can be done anywhere! You can even practice meditation at home.
With respect to mindfulness, we will be focusing on just three approaches:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Mindfulness In nature
- Mindfulness In everyday life
Meditation is typically performed in a comfortable seated position with your back straight, legs crossed and arms forward with hands draping over your knees. We recommend a dedicated routine and place however meditation can be done anywhere.
If you have the space to dedicate to meditation and are able to use a meditation pillow (that link is to an excellent choice on Amazon) you’ll be much more likely to make it a part of your daily routine.
You don’t have to touch your index finger to your thumb with the palm facing forward (this is know as a Mudra by the way) unless you are comfortable with that practice.
Simply letting your hands rest freely over your knees is just fine. It’s also common to close your eyes in order to assist in quieting your senses and better focus your attention.
During seated Meditation, there are many approaches to what you will be focusing on such as a mantra or breathing but for Mindfulness Meditation a very common practice of creating awareness is by focusing on breathing.
Now that you understand your position let’s talk about what you do.
- As you breath, give attention to the flow of the air as it moves in and out of your lungs.
- Observe the feeling the air has on your mouth and throat as it enters and exits your body. Don’t think about it, simply observe.
- As your lungs reach their capacity and your intake end, observe the slight pause that occurs before the exhale begins.
- Similarly, feel the flow of air as it passes from your lungs back into the atmosphere.
- You’ll also become aware of another slight pause at the end of the exhale.
What this exercise is teaching you is to be mindful of what is taking place, not to think about it or judge the event but instead to simply create an awareness of it occurring. This friends is that same awareness that is: consciousness.
Mindfulness is attention given over to form. The space between you and the form, in this case the air, sensations, mechanics of the pause, etc., the space between is consciousness of self independent of form.
Mindfulness in Nature
We are already wholly independent of nature and yet at the same time we are completely within it. This is why nature provides such a great approach to Mindfulness.
Nature isn’t judgmental. Nature simply is. Nature is governed by instinct and is indiscriminate of the forms who are a part of its dance. In other words, Nature doesn’t think! Let’s get into language a little more down to earth shall we. …pun intended.
When was the last time you took a stroll through the park without headphones in your ears or someone to talk to? If it’s been a while, let’s imagine what one similar looks like right here. Imagine you’ve just parked and left your car. Your keys are tucked snugly away in the pocket of your shorts so as not to jingle with your steps.
You begin by observing the loud thud of the car door as you begin walking towards a nearby trail. We can play with the form a little and say the thud of the car is likened to the end of our engagement with man made form. A shot of the track pistol on our lap through the park.
As you begin your walk you notice the color of the leaves is brown. You don’t think about why or allow yourself to make a judgement of the recent rains. You simply note the form.
The trail is slightly dusty and as you step and with some steps you shuffle your foot as it lands, small clouds of sand burst into the air. You notice your footfall is nearly silent. Not because of the dust or few pebbles but it’s simply an observation. You are observing your surroundings as a passerby and independent of why.
Not too long into your walk you approach a tree whose branches reach over the trail and are close enough for you to see detail in their leaves.
You slow and trace the detail with your eyes, taking note of the thicker veins protruding from the branch stem and how they thin as they extend towards the tips of each leaf. Nothing here is good or bad. Nothing should or shouldn’t be. Nature, simply is.
Nature is completely subject to its function and does not require agreement or disagreement.
We could continue the walk and observe the many other types of things you would see along the trail. A small flock of birds that cross ahead of your diagonally.
A patch of blue ruffled flowers growing near a small stream. Each element of nature simply living within its essence and un-corrupted by misinterpretation. In Nature, as in Mindfulness Meditation, you are the observer.
Mindfulness in Everyday Life
Our lives can be hectic. Our societies increasingly connected through the internet, social media and mobile devices which tend to continuously take us out of the present and into a space of attention far away from ourselves. How then do we exercise Mindfulness in everyday life?
What’s important to know first is that our lives can be hectic but they don’t have to be. Hectic by definition means ‘full of incessant or frantic activity.’ Who is in charge of this frantic chaos? You. Me.
All of us have a choice to make about our reactions. When life hands you lemons you don’t have to take them at all! Your reaction is a choice. Not taking the lemons is a choice. Acting in a frantic manner is a choice. Life is as it is. You have the ability to live in a place of peace being Mindful of your relationship to life without letting it dictate behavior.
Mindfulness in everyday life is no different from Mindfulness Meditation or Mindfulness In Nature by practice. It is still about observation and attention.
Let’s use another imaginary story for an example. You’ve just exited your home, locked your door and are making it to your car in order to drive to work.
As you walk down the steps from your home you observe maybe your child or if you’re younger maybe a housemate has left their bicycle lying in the grass near the front porch steps. You have told them before it will either be stolen or if it stays outside for too long in that place it could kill the grass and with rain the bike with rust.
You have a choice in this moment. As you quickly recall your past conversations with them you can allow yourself to get angry and let the feeling of the emotional flare play out in your actions. Or, observe the emotion perhaps allow it to flare up and let it pass without reaction.
You can also continue towards your car imagining (the future) yourself chewing them out for their negligence or you can let the idea of confronting them with conversation simply exist for a moment and then pass.
What can you truly do about the bike now and what conversation can be held with no one else present. You are mindful of your position in the conversation. You are aware of what can be influenced that moment and what cannot. You are also aware of your emotions and recognize your inability to act because of where you are in time. This is Mindfulness; awareness.
You’ve managed to make it into the office and before you have a chance to set your lunch into the community refrigerator your boss catches you and asks your to their desk.
They are frantically trying to respond to a senior executive’s request for more information on a project and they project their frustration your way on not having the answer immediately. You observe their tone of voice without letting it create a reaction within yourself. You observe the frantic nature of their interaction and of having caught you before you were able to settle into your morning routine at work.
You feel a sense of frustration for the interruption. You can express your thoughts and emotion in that moment but you consider this may only exacerbate the frustration of your boss as this isn’t their concern at the moment.
Choosing to observe, not react and by allowing the present moment to take shape as it is the way you can practice Mindfulness in everyday life as well.
No doubt there are multiple other scenarios we can write about that demonstrate ways of practicing Mindfulness throughout any of the three areas above. The important takeaway here is:
Mindfulness is About Creating Awareness
The scenarios above are just the tip of the iceberg in moments in your life where the practice of Mindfulness will benefit not only you but will have positive impact on the people within you life as well.