Mindful awareness is cultivated by the formal practice of meditation. Sitting or walking with focused awareness usually on one object of attention at a time. For many, this formal practice is difficult to establish so they give up. Here are some tips to keep you moving in the direction of a daily practice:
- Start with doing some practice every day. This may involve sitting or walking meditation for 5 minutes. But it may also include informal practices such as washing the dishes mindfully every day; or having a mindful shower or walking to work mindfully, and so on.
- These informal practices help cultivate mindfulness in our daily life. In order to do an activity mindfully, you invite your awareness to notice what you are aware of in that present experience. For example, if you are washing the dishes, notice the sensations of the water, the soap, the smell of the soap, the sensations of standing, the sound of the water, etc. The same for the mindful shower, and so on. If you commit to doing one informal practice a day, you are on your way.
- Another tip is that because we all lie down to go to sleep every day, we can end our day in mindful meditation every day. Come to your breath; notice the sensations of the bed holding your body, of the warm blankets, of your head resting on the pillow, and then go to the breath, and stay there. When you become aware that your mind has wandered off into thoughts, note briefly where it went (planning, worrying, remembering, analyzing, etc.) and then gently escort it back to the breath. You may fall asleep right away or you may be in meditation for a while. It doesn’t matter as long as you do it.
- Do the same when you wake up. Take a few mindful breaths before getting out of bed.
- Lastly, chose one thing that you do many times a day to remind yourself to come to the present. Maybe every time you wash your hands or every time the phone rings. Take 3 breaths and become aware of your present experience.
I hope these little tips are helpful to keep you in the path to a formal practice. Don’t give up!