To let go
Is to stay open,
just like this
To let go
Is to stay open,
just like this
The beauty of mindfulness is that it is meant to be practiced in our daily life. We are not only practicing when we are sitting on the meditation cushion. And essentially, the more we practice the more mindfulness becomes integrated into all that we do.
Here are some simple mindfulness techniques to do throughout the day
– When you wake up in the morning take a few moments to feel and get in touch with your breath. It’s a good idea to do this before going to sleep as well.
– Connect with your breath as much as you can during the day – do a short breathing anchor meditation. Notice how many times throughout the day you are in touch with your breath.
– Pay attention to moments when you shift from one position or activity to the next. For example getting up from the chair or sitting down. Do these as mindfully as possible. Stay in touch with your breath and notice how the movement feels in your body.
– Belly breathing. Notice how you are breathing right now. Put your hand on your stomach and take a few breaths all the way down to the belly, feeling how it expands on the in-breath and contracts on the out-breath.
– Slow walks. Take a walk while paying attention to how your body feels. Feel the soles of your feet against the ground when you take each step. Notice how your body feels when you are walking slowly and then how it feels when you take faster steps. Remember to also feel your breath now and then during the walk. Then also, try to pay as much attention to your surroundings. See the buildings or the trees, notice the colors, the shapes, the movement you can see. Then you can shift by noticing the scents you can feel, or the sounds that you can hear.
– Make a habit of noticing some positive situations during the day. One idea is to write them down in the evening. You can do the same with a negative situations or events that seem to stay with you, and pay attention especially how you react or respond to them, what reactions they might have caused in your body – without making any judgements.
This poem by Rumi is often read in connection to mindfulness, and I think it’s a beautiful reminder of how to meet discomfort in our practice, and our lives.
Each morning we wake up to certain feelings or sensations, and each morning there is something new. Sometimes we feel rejuvenated and content, other times we are tired, in pain, feel a heaviness or something else we would categorize as negative. Even pausing for a moment to simply meet & feel whatever is there, will increase our awareness and sense of presence. We practice meeting it all with as much patience, kindness, and curiosity as possible.
In mindfulness meditation we practice focus and observation, which in time helps us gain a different perspective of what we are feeling and sensing, instead of becoming absorbed by it. If we feel pain somewhere in the body, we can try and imagine breathing into and out of that place, I have found this to be helpful with for example headache and shoulder pain.
We practice meeting our feelings and sensations. We try as much as we can to invite it all in, even the discomfort. After all, it may be clearing the way for new joy.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Living a mindful life means waking up from a kind of slumber. The slumber of living solely in the mind – of moving through life on autopilot. To wake up from that autopilot-state, we practice paying attention to, and truly allowing and feeling, everything that arises in us – specifically paying attention to the body. Because the body is always in the present moment.
Meditation and mindfulness are, in a sense, a deeper kind of listening. We listen, not with our analytical mind that wants to come up with solutions, new ideas, or stories. But we listen in a way that connects us deeper to what we are experiencing. In this way, we also get more in touch with the body and its intelligence.
Through listening deeply, and our willingness to sense and be present for it, we create space for all that is arising, for any emotion or sensation that is stopping by. Can we welcome even what we judge as negative, instead of following the impulse to push it away? Can we allow everything to come and go – as it does?
We practice fully observing all that is arising, without trying to change anything. There is no outer goal to attain.
We are simply gifting ourselves our full attention. This in time gives us a bigger perspective, an even greater sense of presence, and courage to meet things that come our way.
This practice also expands our awareness of how we relate to different sensations, maybe wanting to hold on to the pleasant ones, and to avoid the unpleasant ones.
The beauty of mindfulness, is that it is meant to be practiced in our daily life. And essentially, the more we practice the more mindfulness becomes integrated into all that we do.
You can choose any daily activity, like doing the dishes, taking a shower or taking a walk, and practice being as present as possible for it. Pay attention to the sensations or feelings that you are experiencing, especially all that you are sensing in your body. If you notice that your thoughts begin to wander someplace else, remember your breath is always there to guide you back to the present. It can also be helpful to pay attention to the sensation of the soles of your feet against the ground or floor reminding you to come back to your body and here and now.
Explore how you feel throughout your day. See if you notice when you are feeling present in your body, and when you feel less so. Are there moments or activities during your day where you perhaps feel less present? You can always use breath anchoring to deepen your presence in those specific moments.
I want to share one of the most simple mindfulness meditations, sometimes called a breathing anchor. The beauty of our breath is that it is always there with us, so it makes it a very good tool for focus and concentration, as well as a tool for connecting more to our own body and sensations – always right here and now.
This meditation or breathing anchor can be done at any time, for example if we want to take a break during the day or even when we are walking – in fact the more we do it the better. In this post I will explain it as a seated meditation.
1. If you want you can set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes – but of course you are welcome to sit for as long as you wish. Find a comfortable seat, perhaps a chair or sofa. Lower your shoulders and sit up straight, but not stiff. Find a position that you can hold for a few minutes, one that feels relaxed but also attentive. Close your eyes.
2. Direct your attention to the soles of your feet. How does the floor feel against your feet? How do your legs feel against the chair? Your back or shoulders against the back of the chair? See if you can notice any sensation anywhere in the body?
3. Now direct your attention to your breath. See how closely you can follow it. From the inhale, through the nose, down into your chest, and further down into your belly. Then all the way out again. Follow the natural flow of your breath. Where do you feel it the most? Perhaps in the nostrils, or the chest, or down in your stomach – perhaps when it expands on the inhale, and lowers on the exhale? See if you can notice the small pause between each exhale, and the following inhale. And the pause between each inhale, and the exhale. Can you feel the body expand on the inhale, and relax on the exhale?
4. Keep following each breath, as closely as you can. When your attention shifts from the breath – maybe you drift off into your thoughts, or to a sound you hear – just gently direct it back to your breath. All you need to do is notice when your attention is no longer on the breath and gently guide it back to it. As many times as necessary.
5. When you are ready you can end the meditation by taking three deep breaths, and notice how your body feels at the end.
Remember that you can connect with your breath at any moment, so you can do this meditation anywhere, even standing or walking, whenever you want to come back to the present moment or deepen your connection to it.