So you’ve been to a class, followed a course. You’ve been able to pause and uncover a calmness in your mind that wasn’t there before seemingly. But you don’t want this development to fade; to be like the New Year’s resolution gym membership, unused after February 4th.
I have some simple tips that are based on finishing an MBSR course, but would work for any mindfulness practice, for anyone who is trying and maybe struggling to introduce a regular time for meditation in their day to day life They are not written in order of importance and you may not find that they can all apply to you, but here are some sound methods to keep you mindful. all the links are to written guidelines. If you want a audio of any of the practices then please look at previous “quietening the mind posts” on this blog.
- When you wake up, pause. Notice 3 breaths in and out. Be aware of the mood colouring your thoughts or the thoughts leading your mood as you lie in bed. Try to see these thoughts as just mental events. Like in the Sounds and Thoughts Meditation.
- Before you go out through the front door (maybe instead of the practices in 1 above) gently go through the Tchich Nhat Hanh practice I have frequently mentioned here before.
- During the day use “portable practices” the ones you can take with you. a) 3 Step Breathing Space. b) The dot b practice from the Mindfulness in schools programme
- Pick a daily, and maybe even mundane, activity to be mindful in. “Wash the dishes just to wash the dishes”, slow down and feel the mug of tea on your lips and the drink in your mouth or brush your teeth mindfully. Savour the moment.
- Do a bit more exercise; go for a walk round the block, garden more, cycle or whatever suits you. Maintain that curious interest in how your body feels as you do this.
- See your thoughts and emotions as visitors (like that The Guest House poem by Rumi). Invite them in with an open-hearted mind. Then maybe your automatic blind reactions to them will dissolve and their control over you will weaken.
- To help you with 5 don’t forget you can also use the 3 step breathing space when you feel your anxiety levels rise
- Your breath is always with you, always there to be your anchor; whether at the start of the day, as in 1, or at any other time after. You can always return home to your breath.
- Most importantly, keep your formal practice going. Whether you have preferred the one of the Sitting mindfulness practice, Mindful Walking or the body scan – practice it regularly. Do it for as long as you can, but remember there is no minimum or maximum time. Do what feels right for you. Your practice will support you in the rest of your day and the rest of your life. It is the blessing that you can give yourself.
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
We have refused
Again and again
(his book Consolations available here )
Finally, if you want to develop your practice and see it seep more into your regular life then you could do a lot worse that watch this from Jon Kabat-Zinn on the attitudes to mindfulness.