Jon Kabat Zinn describes Mindfulness as “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
This applies to all forms of connecting with Mindfulness including the informal practices. There are a few ideas where we can incorporate the practice of paying attention without having to carve out time from our busy day.
These are three things that the vast majority of us do every day…………..
1. Mindful Walking
Walking is something that the majority of us do every day as part of our daily activities. We walk upstairs or downstairs, we walk to and from the car in a car park, we walk to get ourselves a drink or lunch. Whether we are home based, working or not, busy executives or frustrated artists, most of us will experience the process of walking during an average day.
Maybe we are lucky enough to be able to walk in nature, maybe you only have access to an urban environment. Regardless of where it is, the process of placing one foot in front of another is the same.
Before diving headlong into automatic pilot, stop and take a breath.
It might be useful to focus first on slowing down the process of walking noticing if you slow your usual pace down even a little, how that feels in the body. Maybe placing attention on the process. What muscles come into play during the complicated simplicity of placing one foot in front of another.
Then checking in with the thoughts and the emotions acknowledging any that come to the fore and letting them pass on.
Without judgement or labelling anything, notice what is happening around you…….the traffic, other people, noises, greenery, birds, sky. Notice and let it go.
And as ever with mindful practice, when your attention wanders, bring it back gently to the present moment.
And when you feel that the time is optimal. maybe continue the walk in your more usual manner doing it consciously rather than from the position of default governed so well from automatic pilot state.
2. Mindful Eating
It is pretty safe to conclude that at some point today, you will be eating some food. Applying mindfulness to eating offers a number of benefits. It does tend to slow us down which means that our taste buds get a chance of connecting with the food before its swallowed and our digestive system more easily assimilates the goodness from the food.
Whether it’s a sandwich, a salad, soup, a piece of fruit, a bar of chocolate or a complete meal, the same principles apply.
Look at the food in front of you, really look at it.
When you take the first bite of any meal, take a moment to really pay attention to the taste. Feel the textures in your mouth, notice the smell of the food and how your body reacts to it.
Savour, explore the sensations that come with the food, enjoy.
Now doing this for a complete meal while admirable is not always practical either because of time constraints or because you don’t want your food to get cold. So just use it now and again, maybe once or twice a day to focus your attention on this life giving activity.
3. Mindful Technology
Ok I hear you say, I understand the walking and the eating but bringing Mindfulness into technology?? Well, actually it is more about bringing the use of technology into the practice of being mindful......mindful as opposed to being on automatic pilot.
How many times during the day do you automatically respond to that ping, whistle of squeak that unmistakably comes from your computer or cell phone? Are you one of the many who do not even consider whether you WANT to respond, but simply do it as a robotic response. The ping, whistle of squeak has trained you well.
But in all truth, does it make any difference whether you respond NOW or choose to finish your meal, your sentence, the report that you are writing, the walk that you are taking to your car?
When the ‘call to action’ comes, try this……wait for a moment before doing anything noticing the sensations in your mind and body.
Breath, be present in that moment.
How do you feel? What can you hear? If your mind wanders off to tasks that you have to complete or it starts working over things that happened yesterday, focus on your breathing, come back to the present.
Be wherever you are for a few moments making a consiouce choice about what you do with the ‘call to action’ from technology knowing that whatever you to do, comes from intent rather than automatic response.
Remember: mindfulness is not about trying to make sense of anything, it’s about attention to that moment.