How many times have you told yourself that you will focus on being present? That next week, next month, or next year you will slow down? Did the forced slowdown of the pandemic allow you to really slow down inside? Or did you find it even harder to make time to be still? As things have come to a new normal, have you found your practices slipping or returning?
Many of us, despite our best efforts, continue to sprint on the hamster wheel. Does this sound familiar?
At some point in time, whether triggered by an event or just a sudden awakening, many of us realize that we are living life in survival mode. We manage to get by and make things look okay on the surface. Then we’re hit by moments when we feel like everything is caving in on us – we feel anxious and exhausted, relationships become strained or flat, and we feel stuck. This may all occur even with our best efforts to practice mindfulness regularly.
Teaching yourself to live mindfully takes practice and time. The quality of our practice can ebb and flow. It’s important to recognize that mindfulness happens in two realms – a) in a specified time for practice, often with a specific type of exercise, and b) in daily living. When we choose to practice in both ways, they help one another to solidify and deepen our mindfulness.
Mindfulness in Daily Living
Mindfulness in daily living entails being more present and experiencing each moment. It involves engaging with your environment, your interactions, and yourself. Mindful living is both a daily practice and a lifetime process. Accepting mindfulness into your life can reduce stress and anxiety, improve your relationships with loved ones, and improve concentration and mental clarity.
Some examples of Mindful Daily Living include:
- Gratitude – it could be listing a few things daily in a journal, sharing with another, or taking opportunities throughout the day to focus on what you are grateful for.
- Acceptance – accepting you, as well as your circumstances, just as they are in this moment. Not from a place of passivity, but from a place of choosing to respond rather than react.
- Mindful waiting – every stoplight, long line, moments of waiting for a child to respond or comply, or sitting in a doctor’s office, can become sacred moments.
- Mindful eating – this involves bringing awareness to the tastes, smells, textures of food. Chewing slowly and avoiding multitasking.
Dedicated Time to Mindfulness and Meditation Practices
The other key aspect of mindfulness is 10-20 minutes dedicated to a specific practice. This is most effective when it occurs at a regular and recurring time once or twice a day, or in a group or class. This time is ideally dedicated to a specific activity such as breathing, sound meditation, or specific types of meditation. Different types include Vipassana (mindfulness meditation), contemplation, spiritual, loving-kindness, mantra, or visualization among others. Different types impact the brain, emotions, body, and spirituality in different ways. With experimentation, you might find that one is more effective for you. There is also a benefit in changing the type every few months depending on the focus you desire to feel.
One key to deepening our mindfulness practices is to practice with other people. Even as someone who meditates daily, my practice is inevitably deeper when I’m with a group. I’m sure you’ve experienced similar effects when exercising with a trainer or doing yoga in a class rather than on a video. When we meet, we deliberately choose to devote the time, are committed to letting go of distractions, and have collective energy with others to benefit us.
An additional benefit of practicing in a group is to expand and broaden skills and strategies for an effective mindfulness or meditation practice. It can sometimes be hard to see the benefit of sitting in silence with a group, however, an experienced teacher gives you new tools to deepen and expand your practice. Additionally, you can share experiences with like-minded people if you wish.
Deepen Your Mindfulness Practice
If you are ready to expand your mindfulness practices, joining our Mindful Community is a great way to get there. Our 8-week virtual mindfulness series starts Thursday, January 20th at 7:00 pm ET.
Previous participants have shared how powerful the teachings are, they leave “feeling like Jell-O” and find it to be the most peaceful hour of their week. Paul Pettit has helped many individuals to shift their mindfulness practice from a chore to a transformational practice.
To learn more or sign up for the 8-week virtual mindfulness series click here.
We look forward to sharing this time with you!