How do we become more mindful throughout our daily life?
There are quite a few ways in which we can actively practice mindfulness to help us become more present. Establishing a daily meditation routine is one of them. By starting off slow while releasing any judgement on how long the practice was, it will naturally become easier as days and weeks go by, where the duration will slowly increase and our ability to return our attention to the present moment will also increase naturally.
There has been many studies into meditation and mindfulness practices and research suggests that a short regular daily routine will be more beneficial and sustainable than trying to meditate for long periods of time irregularly. Speaking from my own personal experience, this is definitely accurate. When I began to meditate I thought forcing myself to sit for 30 minutes to practice would be a good idea to get into a daily habit, when in fact all it did for me was create such a resistance in wanting to practice meditation, that I fell out of the habit so regularly that I never saw or felt any benefit or insight from it.
Listening to a short guided meditation was a big game changer for me in terms of getting to grips with the many different techniques there are for meditation practice, as they will guide you through step by step and also take any “pressure” you might put on yourself “do it right” if you just go straight into the silence and stillness all on your own.
A few little tips that helped me out were the following, allow these four things happen during your practice:
Focus your attention on something constant, be it the sensation in your body of your belly falling and rising with each breath, the present moment, the breath itself.
Become distracted from your focus.
Recognise that your attention is distracted from your original focus point.
Return the attention back to your breath or focus point.
No part is necessarily held in higher regard to either, it is all an equal and completely natural part of the process, especially in the beginning. Realising that distraction is part of meditation can turn what may of once caused self doubt or thoughts of “I’m not doing this right” or “I’m rubbish at this so whats the point" into a more relaxed and less daunting view of practice. A feeling of failure when practising meditation is simply another distraction for us to return our focus from. Albeit a slightly more negative one (which is also a completely normal thing to sometimes happen while meditating)
With no distraction, there is no recognition of distraction, and with no distraction, there is no return to focus.
The practice of returning to focus is whats important. The time we can remain in stillness in between thoughts will gradually, although slowly increase over time, as well as our patience. If we release any attachment to this reward, and just keep on practising and training our attention to be returned when distracted then what we once might have thought was the main reason we meditate, will become a byproduct and make it a little easier to release any feelings that we aren’t “doing it right”.
Here is also a little ten minute meditation you can try and practice on your own if you like using the breath as your anchor point. Meditating with the intention of exploring the breath and all that comes with it brings our attention into the present moment. It provides us with a constant reminder to refocus on whats happening right now.
So, what do we actually focus on?
Start by finding a comfortable seat, somewhere you wont be distracted for a short while and allow yourself to relax.
Set yourself a timer for 10 or even just 5 minutes.
Take 3 deep inhales through the nose, and exhale through the mouth to start to root our awareness in our breath. Take in your surroundings and any sounds that you might hear.
Close your eyes.
Explore each breath as it is happening. What sensations are present in the body? How your hands feel where they lie, the breath passing your upper lip as it goes in and out of your nose, or how you feel the seat beneath you.
Notice how each breath in and breath out feels within the body.
Whenever your mind begins to wander, acknowledge the thought for what it is, as just a passing thought, note it, and let it go. We do not need to identify with our thoughts, over time we can merely observe them instead of being overcome by them.
Then come back to the breath and any sensations that come along with it. Let the breath continue to anchor you in the present moment.
Be kind to yourself. It can be easy to beat ourselves up if we don’t release any expectations of what we want to get out of something. Most importantly of all, be patient, and just keep returning your focus, the more this happens, the easier it will get.
Another practice you might like to add on after you’ve finished your meditation might be some reflection. Write down any recurring thoughts, feelings, emotions, or sensations that might have came up during your practice. Starting a reflection/meditation journal can help keep you accountable as you can see and track how you’ve been getting on.
So, feel free to give it a try, and if you have any questions please do feel free to get in touch and i’ll do my best to help you out!