Photo used with permission by Alcophotos
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.
When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
As I’ve noted before, mindfulness is a personal journey and some practices may resonate with us more than others. That’s certainly been true for me. I’ve explored the topic of mindfulness over the last year and I’ve read everything I could get my hands on. I’ve learned that the various mindfulness practices fall into either the category of “formal practices” or “informal practices”. Below are some of the more common formal ways to practice mindfulness:
Formal Practices in Mindfulness
Mindful self-inquiry for stress and anxiety
Mindful eating: the raisin exercise
If you’ve been following my blog, you may recall that I’ve discussed most of the above topics in earlier posts. In addition to the formal practices, which require intention, practice, and commitment, informal practices in mindfulness involve bringing mindful awareness to our daily activities, such as eating, exercising, chores, and relationships – basically any action anywhere. Everyday, informal mindfulness invites us to take our lives one moment at a time and our informal practices help us to be more mindfully aware as each moment occurs (Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein, A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, 2010). Below are some examples of how to practice mindfulness informally. I’ve already talked about some of them and I will be addressing more of these informal practices individually in upcoming blog posts:
Informal Practices in Mindfulness
Loving-Kindness in everyday life
Dealing with pain mindfully
Eight attitudes of mindfulness
In my own mindful retirement journey, I am finding opportunities to practice mindfulness all around me. For formal practice, I use the app, Headspace, to practice meditation. There are many other apps but I like Headspace because of its simple, yet comprehensive approach to sitting meditation. I try to schedule a 20-minutes meditation practice on my calendar three days a week – preferably in the morning after taking the dogs for a walk. My informal practices include interpersonal mindfulness, mindful thinking, and the eight attitudes of mindfulness. Just what are the eight attitudes? According to Stahl and Goldstein (2010, p. 41), they are the conditions that are essential to anyone’s mindfulness practice. I’ll be writing more about these eight attitudes in upcoming blog posts.
The Eight Attitudes of Mindfulness:
- Beginner’s mind. We see things as new and fresh, as if for the first time, with a sense of curiosity.
- Nonjudgment. We practice impartial observation in regard to any experience-not labeling thoughts, feelings, or sensation as good or bad, right or wrong. They are simply taking note of thoughts, feelings, or sensations in each moment.
- Acknowledgement. We acknowledge and validate things as they are.
- Nonstriving. We avoid grasping, aversion to change, or moving away from whatever arises in the moment. We don’t try to get somewhere other than where we are at the present moment.
- Equanimity. We understand the nature of change, which allows us to “be with” the change, with insight and compassion.
- Letting be. We simply let things be as they are, with no need to try to let go of whatever is present.
- Self-reliance. We see for ourselves, from our own experience, what is true or untrue.
- Self-compassion. We cultivate love for ourselves, without self-blame or criticism.
by Jennifer Paine Welwood
Willing to experience aloneness,
I discover connection everywhere;
Turning to face my fear,
I meet the warrior who lives within;
Opening to my loss,
I gain the embrace of the universe;
Surrendering into emptiness,
I find fullness without end.
Each condition I flee from pursues me,
Each condition I welcome transforms me,
And becomes itself transformed
Into its radiant jewel-like essence.
I bow to the one who has made it so,
Who has crafted this Master Game;
To play it is purest delight—
To honor its form, true devotion.