There are a wide range of ways of practising mindfulness and I will share some of these mindfulness exercises with you, but the key thing I want you to take on board is to just do it – and keep doing it!
Your mind (and your ego) will resist and you will want to become more informed about it and will want to read yet another book on mindfulness.
The human mind loves to make this simple thing so complicated – yet mindfulness is called a practise for a good reason!
You mind will get bored and want to be entertained, distracted and engaged. That’s what minds do, and that’s why they are sometimes referred to as “monkey minds”.
If you want to learn mindfulness exercises – just be mindful – focus your attention, focus your mind, 100% on whatever it is that you are doing right now – in this present moment.
Mindfulness exercises can be divided into:
- Activity based exercises and observational exercises
- Both types of exercise can be undertaken in groups or on your own.
Typical activity-based mindfulness practises include:
- Physical exercises e.g. Tai Chi
- Undertaking routine household/domestic chores
- Undertaking outdoor tasks e.g. gardening, clearing land, raising crops
Typical observational mindfulness exercises include:
- Body awareness and deep relaxation
- Sitting meditation
- Mindful silence
- Mindful listening
Putting it into practise
In my own experience, there is a great benefit in undertaking some of these mindfulness exercises with others people who are doing the same practise. This might be just one other person or as part of wider practise group.
There is a stronger energy to the activity if is undertaken with others and this can be very encouraging and helpful in your own practise of mindfulness.
However, the real work is done on your own and this largely falls into two categories:
(1) Formal practise- this is where you apply regular focused attention to one or two mindfulness exercises at a time, until you have mastered them, and they have become habits. As with the acquisition of any new skill, this requires self discipline, persistence and consistence:
“Just be mindful – focus your attention, focus your mind, 100% on whatever it is that you are doing right now – in this present moment.”
(2) Integration practise- this is when you take your newly acquired mindfulness skills and apply them at different times of the day.
This may be a “situation specific” practise when for example you get into a frequently occurring situation such as heavy traffic, or an interaction with a partner or work colleague who irritates you.
Applying mindfulness in relationship situations can be very instructive and very powerful, and over time can change negative and destructive aspects of some relationships.
The other type of integration practise I use is what I refer to as “state specific” – this is where I mindfully monitor my internal states throughout the day.
This practise is very instructive as I used to find it quite surprising to see just how repetitive my thought patterns and emotional states actually are. Then, applying mindfulness to the negative states helped me (and still helps me) to become “unstuck” or unidentified with them quite quickly.
Change your mind: How to practise mindfulness.
Stephen Warrilow, runs an informational site Zen Tools for tough times suggesting and providing practical resources that can show you how to change your life and also to help you survive imposed change and tough times.