As an irregular meditator, I’ve always struggled with the difference between meditation and mindfulness.
Recently I found the following advice about mindfulness, which I want to capture here, as I think it provides a really good introduction to the basics of mindfulness.
The “What” skills of mindfulness:
- Observing. Notice what you are experiencing, without getting caught up in the experience. Just observe and be aware of your feelings and any physical sensations.
- Describing. As you observe your experiences, you need to put words to them. For example, you might say in your mind, “I notice a tightness in my chest”.
- Participating. When you do something, do it with all your attention. Don’t do things on ‘automatic pilot’. Notice if attention strays, then gently bring it back to the task.
The “How” skills of mindfulness:
- Being non-judgemental. This means accepting each moment as it is, not how you think it ‘should be’. It is focusing only on the facts and not assigning a ‘value’ or any ‘worth’, not saying something is “good” or “bad”. If you find yourself judging, don’t judge yourself for it! Just gently remind yourself to let go of judging and return to being non-judgemental.
- Focusing on one thing at a time. Focusing on one thing at a time means that we can give ourselves and our attention fully to that action. So, when you are walking, walk. When you are eating, eat.
Here’s a nice guided mindfulness exercise to start off with that is very relaxing and enjoyable.
It is important to find someone whose voice you like, as well as liking what they say.
Some other techniques for building mindfulness into your day: