Mindfulness is easy, until it’s not
If you’ve been practicing Mindfulness for for a while like I have, then you know that a lot of us strive to be the perfect Zen master, and we often feel shameful for not keeping up with Mindfulness the way we think we should. That’s why it can be common for us to experience blocks like limitation in time, energy and space, but it’s okay to give ourselves permission to be gentle. Practicing, mindfulness and self-care does require knowledge, commitment and time. If you’ve been doing this for awhile then you know that when first starting out, it is difficult to absorb all the information about Mindfulness and self-help in a limited time. Especially when you are feeling overwhelmed with work and didn’t know where to start.
So feel free to incorporate these Mindful practices in your own way and in your own unfolding. Try your best to commit to these practices as much as you can in the present moment through intentional practice. You might not be able to do this at all times and that’s okay. it’s not required for us to all be Buddhists to practice Mindfulness. 🙂
Sitting Meditation is the simple practice of being attentive to our physical, sensations and thoughts while sitting upright. If you have negative emotions, try to simply let your anger, irritation and pain flow through yourself without being too attached to it. You can practice this when I’m working, at a café, traveling, resting and everywhere you choose to be. Try to adjust my posture and try your best to sit upright. I personally struggle with this so do what you can. It’s okay to do what is comfortable for your own body.
Mindful breathing, is simply being aware of the breath. Do not try too hard to take super deep, breaths, all the time because awareness is what matters most. When you’re rushing and feeling stressed, just remember that you have the peaceful rhythm of your breath to return to. There are several different techniques for breathing mindfully. Find some that are easy for you do to and then progress further. There are some slightly controversial ones too, like Holotropic breathing so you need to research a method before you jump into it with both feet.
How much time do you do this? I prefer a short 10 to 15-minute meditation in the morning to set the day on the right path. It can be multiple times per day as well. A morning or evening routine are good too. I set up a timer on my phone that rings throughout the day. So that I can remind myself to breathe deeply and to return to the present moment. I even have the word “Breathe” on the lock page of my phone so that every time I pick it up, the reminder is there. Just Breathe. If I’m stressed out and rushing the day, the bell rings – and I remember to let tightness melt away and to take conscious breaths.
Use a Mindful app
Mindful learning is so important to include in your practice. I recommend using an app that can serve as a helpful tool in deepening the practice of self-care and Mindfulness. There are a lot of them out there so I’m not going to tell you which one to use. It’s up to you to find one that works for you, not for me. Try to find one that offers best insights and need-to-know information. This could a condensation from books that you can easily read or listen to. A good app will allow you to learn valuable insights without requiring too much time and energy.
Mindful Reading (or listening)
There are of course a variety of books, including those on Mindfulness, self-help and health. You might be able to find an app that condenses them, or you can use other tools to listen to them. I’m somewhat old school about this and I still love to get hard or soft cover books and hold them while learning from the teachings of my favorite writers. You can also use readings for affirmations and motivations from self-help teachers. I love being able to absorb these teachings when I’m outside just having a relaxed day.
If I could recommend books to your, I’d say that I loved reading Eckhart Tolle book The Power of Now, because he reminded me of the importance of being grounded in the present moment. Without worrying about the future, or my past. I have also learned deep insights from Thich Nhat Hanh and his book The Miracle of Mindfulness. His teachings always remind me to be compassionate and generous. Having a teacher and someone who can guide you is so important in your practice of Mindfulness and intentional living.
Resting is so nourishing and healing to the mind body and spirit. I know that work and household chores can feel so overwhelming, so resting and taking the time to simply be – without doing anything – can be truly nourishing and energizing.
It’s strange how being and existing becomes so difficult when you are so used to stimulation and excitement. I know a lot of people drink tea and I enjoy that too, but to be honest I love coffee! Probably not my Mindfulness teacher’s favorite fact about me. But, I just don’t push the button on the Keurig. I grind my whole beans, then perform a pour over method to make a single cup of coffee in the morning or during the day. To me, it is actually nourishing to be in the present moment while I am boiling the water, grinding the coffee beans, adding them in and then pouring gently and enjoying my cup of coffee. Just insert “tea” for coffee and “leaf” for beans if you’re a tea lover. No matter if you tea or coffee, beauty and happiness dwells in you when you practice mindfulness while drinking.
Mindful listening is the practice of deep listening without judgment and criticism. When youpractice mindful listening, you do not give advice, interrupt or argue. You simply listen with compassion. Loving speech or right speech is the practice of speaking and thinking with compassion without discrimination, criticism or hatred. We all live in different ways and we all think in different ways. So do not try so hard to convince others that you are right and that your life is the only way towards happiness. Let these unwholesome desires go, and speak with intention and compassion.
Try to practice the Five Contemplation from the teachings of Buddha during mealtime. Eating mindfully is chewing slowly being mindful of the flavors and having an appreciation for all the resources used in bringing food to this table. Try your best to eat slowly without rushing too much. For me, this does get difficult at times when I’m excited to eat my favorite meals. Mindful breathing, is simply being aware of the breath.. I do not try too hard to take super deep, breaths, all the time.
Mindful walking – Steady steps – with awareness
I enjoy walking, and I try to take all my walks with mindfulness. You can do this as well. Start by taking your steps slowly and with intention. Start to notice your surrounding more. There is so much striving and rushing, but when you finally invite peace into the present you can be more grounded and connected with this Earth. Listen to what is happening around you. The birds singing. The wind blowing. Notice how you are walking, breathing, etc. Awareness is what matters most.
Silence is golden
If you find it difficult to commit to any of these practices. Just a 5 min silent meditation is good enough to get you started, especially if you are new to Mindfulness. That was the case for me when I first started. Do it on your own, or in a group, or even in a sangha. Simply give yourself permission to enjoy deep silence by avoiding distractions. Simply sit, lie down, work or do chores without speaking. This can be brief or long depends on the day and depends on how you feel. It is truly nourishing to allow yourself some quietness and calmness without the need to think of something to say.
I hope that you find your own kind of consistency in your own kind of Mindfulness practice and I hope that practice truly nourishes you and brings peace into your heart.