How To Practice The Art Of Mindfulness

How To Practice The Art of Mindfulness

Mindfulness originates from Buddhism but it has become increasingly popular in the West.

It has recently been used to treat patients with depression, chronic fatigue, cancer, stress… and has shown very promising results.

Results you can expect include:

  • an increased ability to relax
  • greater energy and enthusiasm for life
  • heightened self-belief and an increased ability to cope more effectively with both short and long-term stressful situations

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is becoming aware of what’s around us here and now.

In fact, it’s the exact opposite to what we normally do: going through our endless tasks, thinking about what we did or didn’t do, worrying about what is still to be done.

Mindfulness is escaping from our thoughts about the past and the future in order to concentrate, body and mind, on the moment.

Why Practice Mindfulness?

It does sound like a very counter-intuitive thing to do.

Yet, what’s the point of going through life worrying about our to-do list?

Have you ever found yourself playing with your children while worrying about something you need to do at work.

If you have, you’ll know you were only just half-present for your children and it probably didn’t help your work very much either.

That nice moment with your children has now gone and is lost forever.

One of my favorite philosophers, Cicero, advised in his six mistakes of man that we should resist the tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected – and I do believe he’s right.

In fact I would go one further, and say that we shouldn’t worry too much about things that we might not be able to change or correct – because even if there is just a chance these things can’t be changed or corrected, then that’s a chance that we are completely wasting our time worrying – and our time is the most valuable thing we have.

Mindfulness teaches us to live in the present, to have more vivid experiences, to be more fully present in our life, to focus on other things than our worries, to accept ourselves and our life as they are, to become aware and enjoy things around us, to enjoy each moment, to enjoy our life.

To be here and now, body and mind united, means that we stop thinking about what is causing our stress, we start enjoying what we are doing right now.

Ideally, we’d always live in this awareness state. Realistically, we’ll return to our problems and worries but, chances are, our mindfulness moments will have brought new perspectives that might well help us solve the issues we face.

How Do We Reach Mindfulness?

I hope I’ve convinced you to try mindfulness.

Here is how to do it…

It doesn’t matter what we are doing, it could be washing dishes, walking, cleaning, playing with your kids, cooking, eating, making love, exercising or doing nothing.

  • Focus on your breath.
  • Focus on the sounds around you, all the things you see, all the things your body feels.
  • Pay attention to the voice inside your head, that constant chatter in our mind. Often that voice carries negative thoughts and comments, doubts, worries, judgments.
  • Choose to let go of the thoughts that are unhelpful.
  • Release your mind from its constant chatter and turn your thoughts to what surrounds you and what is happening right now in the present.

The objective is to learn to experience this awareness during the day as you go about your daily tasks.

Pick an activity (start with something you enjoy to make it easier) and decide to be mindful as you do it.


If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the awareness of your breath, your body and things around you. Notice how much more enjoyment you got out of it.

If you’re hooked and want to know more, here is a great little book on the subject (we include two links – the original version which you can now pick up at a really good price and the newer updated version):

We have also found (thanks to one of our readers – thanks Andy!) a great video on the subject – a session given to Google staff and led by the same guy, Jon Kabat-Zin, well worth a look..


Comments

How To Practice The Art Of Mindfulness — 12 Comments

  1. Hey I stumbled on your website by mistake when i was searching Yahoo for this subject, I must tell you your webpage is truly valuable I also like the design, its good!

    • Hey Mika,

      I’m really pleased you liked this article (it’s one of my favorites too) – thanks for the comment & your kind words,

      take care & best wishes,
      Alan

  2. I know that feeling of doing one thing and thinking about something else. I used to be good about not doing it, but it seems as if the more things I have going on and the more deadlines I have, the harder it gets to tame. At least that’s how things have been going lately with certain school deadlines coming up. I find myself watching a movie or at work and thinking about all the school stuff I still need to take care of. It’s distracting and I can’t get as much stuff done as I’d like.

    I like your tips on reaching mindfulness. Focusing on my breathing and letting go of unhelpful thoughts really can work wonders. I wonder if there is a point where you don’t need to practice anymore and it just comes naturally.
    Steve recently posted…6 Ways to Enjoy Every Day as Much as PossibleMy Profile

    • Yup, I love mindfulness.

      So simple, yet so powerful.

      I am certain that it does become second nature with practice, but I’m nowhere near that either – also I do believe there are effectively ‘levels’ of mindfulness, though I’m fascinated by the subject – I have to admit I generally do the lazy version – I just remind myself from time to time to try and spend more time in the present moment and think less about the future or the past – which also relates to my buddy Cicero‘s 2nd mistake.

      Did you watch the vid? That guy (Kabat-Zinn) is pretty awesome too…

    • Hi Sylviane,

      thanks for commenting,

      yes – the average person spends far too much time in the past or in the future (in my humble opinion) and that can lead to all kinds of problems such as worrying about tings that cannot be changed anyway.

      We could all do with living more in the present because it’s the thing we can always influence and have impact upon,

      take care & very best wishes,
      Alan
      Alan recently posted…10 Ways to Enjoy Life More for Less (That You Can Start Right Now)My Profile

  3. Mindfulness,
    this is someting i used to be good at before i had kids.. LOL..

    When i lived in Japan, i once went on a retreat with a friend where we were not allowed to speak for days. I won’t get into it, but the goal was to practice listening to our silence and learn to be in the moment. It was then that i learned how to be more mindfull amoung other things.

    Even with that training and practice, i still find it hard to be mindful especially in this busy day and age.

    Thanks for the reminder that we all need to live more mindfully.
    Annie Andre recently posted…10 Common Travel Packing Mistakes To Avoid On Your Next TripMy Profile

    • Hey Awesome,

      I love it that you spent some time in a monastery (it was a monastery, right?) I always wanted to try that (but never have, yet) – I think in my case it would be quite impactful (as you know, I love to talk).

      I do think I have a good balance and often spend time with my own thoughts, usually when out walking the dog in our beautiful countryside here – but being completely still and having nothing but your thoughts and complete silence for days or weeks on end has always intrigued me.

      • Alan,
        yes it was in a monastery for 5 days. It was so so difficult for me to be silent too. But after the first day it became easier and I gained so much clarity. I don’t often get to be alone these days. I often feel guilty if i have alone time with just me. It’s just a psychological thing i need to get over but when i am alone it gets much easier.
        My husband often gets a lot of alone time. He swims advidly for a couple of hours every other day and he takes that time to listen to his thoughts albeit he’s exercising but he says it feels peaceful.
        My husband is very good at being mindful. He used to teach Tae Kwan Do before he became an engineer and lived amoungst the monks for a long time. It’s very intimidating as he is very wise compared to me. .I digress….
        Having alone time right now as my daughter sleeps on the bed next to me this lazy saturday morning.
        Annie Andre recently posted…10 Common Travel Packing Mistakes To Avoid On Your Next TripMy Profile

        • Wow wow wow.

          Is it something you will do again?

          I think I will do some kind of retreat at some point – not that I have trouble finding ‘alone’ time if I want it these days, but just for the experience because, like Blake with his swimming (which I can relate to as I used to go swimming quite often and it can be quite boring if you do a decent amoun of lengths) when I’m out walking, it’s peaceful and alone time but not really the same as a monastery.

          I also did tae-kwon-do, though I think Blake would kick my little a$$ – I only got to red belt and didn’t do too well in competitions – I liked it more for the fitness and technical/movement aspects than the actual fighting part.

          I have alone time too at the moment but only because the rest of my family are too lazy to get up out of bed yet – Saturday mornings…

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