Written by Sarah Good
What is mindfulness anyway? And how can it be used in our lives these days?
The simplest way for me to understand it, is that mindfulness has three parts:
- Intention: set an intention for what you want to put your attention on.
- Attention: notice where your attention is. If it is not on your intention, can you gently bring it back to your intention?
- Attitude: how are you handling it when your attention wonders? How do you speak to yourself? Can you let go of judgements?
The practice of mindfulness can be a formal or informal practice. If we are doing our daily occupations with a mindfulness attitude, that would be an informal practice. When we plan time in our day to do a mindfulness meditation, that would be a formal practice.
What does formal mindfulness look like?
To do a mindfulness meditation, we can be in any position. Typically, we are either sitting, standing, lying or walking. We then chose a focus (intention) such as the breath, sounds in the room or sensations in the body. We notice where our attention is and bring it back to our intention as often as needed. In fact, the bringing of our attention back is the practice, and sometimes we have hundreds of opportunities in a short meditation.
Mindfulness is about increasing our awareness of what is present now. That means that it is not necessarily relaxing. However, over time, the practice can help us manage stressful or painful situations with more skill.
What does informal mindfulness look like?
Mindful doing is the practice of paying attention to the present moment while doing daily activities. This means connecting to an activity and curiously noticing what is happening around and within you with your senses while doing it, without judgement. It can be a way to practice slowing yourself down to experience the world around you in more detail. How does an orange feel under your thumb as you start to peel it? What is the smell of the food that you’re eating – what is the texture like in your mouth? What do the bubbles look like as you start to wiggle your fingers together when washing your hands? What are the sounds like as you pull a tap on to start a shower? What is something you notice about your experience in the present moment while sitting at a red light or in a waiting room – what is there to notice?
The opportunities for mindfulness practice are truly endless!