Creating Mindful Moments During Your Day
Although when you think of mindfulness you may think of formal meditation, mindfulness is not just for meditation periods. Although we can gain great insight in formal sitting practice, most of us don’t spend the day meditating. We can find ways to bring our mindfulness practice to daily life, and to cultivate awareness with everyday tasks.
If you want to learn more about the difference between mindfulness and meditation, you can check out our post Mindfulness vs. Meditation: What’s the Difference?.
Why Practice During the Day?
The purpose of meditation is to cultivate awareness and insight into the nature of reality. When we meditate, we practice seeing clearly. This is a skill that takes time to cultivate. As we continue to practice, we grow more and more mindful.
By bringing your practice to your day, you can find ways to continue this cultivation. The work toward clarity and insight doesn’t need to stop on the cushion. You don’t need to do too much special in order to practice in your daily life, and the benefits are enormous. It’s a bit of a snowball effect. The more you sit and meditate, the easier it is to be mindful during your day. The more you dedicate effort to mindfulness during daily life, the easier it is to access.
I’ve found that as I find ways to incorporate mindfulness into my life with some dedicated effort, I grow more and more patient and kind. The reactions weaken, and I have a little more space to respond with wisdom to experience. I’ve written before about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, and find these to be especially relevant to daily practice.
Finding the Space for Mindfulness
With the chaos of everyday life, I know it may seem hard to find space for mindfulness in your day. However, you really don’t need to change much. You can of course set aside time to meditate, but you can also bring mindfulness to the activities you are already doing. Do what you normally do, but try to really be present.
A great place to start is the body. Our bodies are always with us, and we can use the physical sensations as an anchor to the present moment. One of my personal favorite ways to work with the body during my day is through a general form of walking meditation. You can walk normally, but bring your attention to the sensations present. As you walk into work, through your home, or around the block, simply be with the experience of the feet lifting, moving, and placing down in front of you.
If you are eating during your day, that’s another great opportunity to really be mindful. We often eat in a rush, not really paying attention at all to what is going on. Instead, use this as a time to bring awareness to what is happening. Tune into the tastes, the look of your food, your hunger, and the entire experience of eating. Take a break from the chaos and find some refuge in the present moment as you eat.
In our post Mindful Eating Practices, Tips, and Guidance, we have some instructions and tips for mindful eating. Check it out and see if you can dedicate one meal or even a snack to the practice of mindful eating today!
Another way I love to dedicate time to practice is through some sort of driving meditation. When I mention driving meditation to people, they often are taken aback. I assure you I don’t close my eyes or go into a deep concentrative state while driving.
You can bring your attention deeply to the present moment while driving, and be quite safe. Instead of listening to music or the news on the radio, you can be where you are wholly. Feel the body in the seat, notice the cars around you, and listen to the noises of the road. Use it as a time to be present and aware. Don’t zone out. Be where you are.
Anything you do during your day can be a practice. Stop and be present for a moment, and do whatever you normally do a little more slowly.
You can also check out our post 17 Ways to Be More Mindful in Everyday Life for more ideas on ways to bring mindfulness to your life!
The Moments of Mindlessness
Another great place to which we can bring attention is the moment of mindlessness. We go on autopilot, find ourselves behaving in ways we know are not wholesome, or say things we later regret. Whether you experience anger, stress, or boredom, you can bring awareness to these moments.
We all fall into moments where we lack awareness. Sometimes we realize it hours or days later, but we can try to be mindful of it more quickly. You may have habit energies at play. As Thich Nhat Hanh discusses, we can transform our negative habit energies.
Look for the places where you find yourself lacking mindfulness. For example, I notice that when I start to catch up on emails for the day, I go immediately into autopilot and anxiety. Maybe you experience anxiety at night, autopilot during certain periods of your day, or anger when faced with difficulties. Look for the places in yourself where you fall into mindlessness.
Put special effort forth here. Set reminders, find an awareness trigger, and dedicate some effort to being present during these times. These difficult moments offer a powerful space for growth and freedom.
If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness, check out my book now available on Amazon! It contains 75 individual practices to begin investigating mindfulness, concentration, and compassion in meditation and daily life!