The first very important thing to say about mindfulness practice, be it a formal one or one done informally, is that we need to set an intention for the practice. See Finding Your Why.

This is a reflection or statement that affirms what you wish to experience by doing the mindfulness practice: for yourself and others – as mindfulness sessions afford us the opportunity to make changes in our lives, and the lives of those around us.

What is the purpose of the mindfulness session?

For example, “I wish to be…… less judgmental or negative or more happy and at ease for myself, and so I can be a better partner to my ….”

This intention setting opens us up to the importance of our practice and potentially improves the benefits we gain from it. You can draw on your values, or one in particular, from the list of Core Values you created last week.

The intention setting is very different from expecting what the actual practice will be like, for instance, “I should be relaxed.” “My mind will be clear of thoughts, and if it’s not, I’m not doing it right.”

This is not at all helpful as it often precludes judgments of what’s happening as you practise mindfulness.

So there are basically two ways to practise mindfulness: Informally and Formally.

Informal Mindfulness Practice

1. Awareness while making tea or coffee. Prepare a pot of tea or coffee to serve a guest or to drink by yourself. Do each movement slowly, in awareness. Do not let one detail of your movements go by without being aware of it. Know what your hand lifts the pot by its handle. Know that you are pouring the fragrant, warm tea or coffee into the cup. Follow each step in awareness. Breathe gently and more deeply than usual. Take hold of your breath if your mind strays.

2. Awareness while washing the dishes or stacking the dishwasher. Wash the dishes consciously, as though each bowl is an object of contemplation. Consider each bowl sacred. As weird as that sounds. Follow your breath to keep your mind focused.  Do not try to hurry to get the job over with. Consider washing the dishes the most important thing in life.

3. Awareness while hand-washing clothes. Do not wash too many clothes at one time. Select only three or four articles of clothing. Find the most comfortable position to sit or stand, so as to prevent a backache. Scrub the clothes consciously. Hold your attention on every movement of your hands and arms. Pay attention to the soap and water. Remember to bring your attention back to washing the clothes whenever your mind wanders.

 4. Awareness while cleaning house. Divide your work into stages: straightening things and putting away books, scrubbing the toilets, scrubbing the bathroom, sweeping the floors, and dusting.

 Allow a good length of time for each task. Move slowly, three times more slowly than usual. Focus your attention fully on each task. For example, while placing a book on the shelf, look at the book; be aware of what book it is; know that you are in the process of placing it on the shelf; and know that you intend to put it in that specific place. Know that your hand reaches for the book and picks it up. Avoid any abrupt or harsh movement. Maintain awareness of the breath, especially when your thoughts wander.

5. Awareness while taking a slow-motion bath. Allow yourself to take a long bath. Don’t hurry for even a second. From the moment you prepare the bath water to the moment you put on clean clothes, let every motion be light and slow. Be attentive of every movement. Place your attention on every part of your body, noticing the sensations in different parts of your body. Be aware of the feeling of the water on your body. Follow your breath.

Basically, you can be mindful of anything you’re doing or experiencing.

You can choose to bring mindful attention to any object or process you are aware of with your 5 senses- sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.

When you get distracted by thoughts, emotions or physical sensations, just bring your attention back to what you were focusing on- gently and kindly, that is, without judgeing or self-criticism.

Come back to the present moment. Begin again. This is remindfulness.

Remindfulness

Remind yourself that it’s ok to get distracted; it’s what the mind does.

It’s an opportunity to be mindful again.

Research is demonstrating that the process of coming back to the present moment is what produces the wonderful benefits of mindfulness practice.

So, welcome those distractions of the mind as opportunities to begin again – to remind yourself to come back to the present moment and what you were mindfully paying attention to.

Formal Mindfulness and Mindfulness Apps

Formal mindfulness is where you schedule time to sit down and practise mindfulness. It doesn’t have to be heaps of time out of your busy day. As little as 10 minutes of formal mindfulness practice a day can be beneficial.

One of the ways you can do your daily formal mindfulness practice is with the use of Mindfulness apps.

Here is a list of Mindfulness apps that I’ve used personally, and would highly recommend. For most of us, apps can provide the best possible opportunities to practice mindfulness, as they are guided practices.

Someone guiding you to focus mindfully on something in the present moment. They prompt you to notice when you’re distracted and then bring yourself back to mindfully focus, which is ever so helpful for our busy, distracted minds.

 

Headspace Meditation This is an excellent mindfulness practice resource. I would suggest it if you wish to establish and maintain a consistent daily mindfulness practice.

 

Calm Meditation. This app provides openings for daily practice. It is also helpful if you wish to listen to a range of different teachers, presenting their own particular take on practicing mindfulness.

 

Insight Timer Is similar to the Calm app, providing meditations for particular themes, for instance, work, anxiety, and stress.

 

Waking Up This is a different app from Headspace and Calm. It provides the opportunities for daily practice, as well as more about the theory of mindfulness and living a more awakened, aware life.