Growing up, I practiced meditation regularly along with yoga. However, as life got busy the practice of meditation started fading away and never realized the importance of it until now. Recently during this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 crisis, we were encouraged to practice mindfulness at work. However, I couldn’t find ways to inculcate the practice or find time in my daily routine. Fortunately, my mentor at work started with a weekly mindfulness session and it was indeed an eye-opening experience for me. It just amazed me how simple things like breathing and meditation can be life-changing moments!
Let’s dive deep into it and figure out how we can incorporate the meditation technique in our living and enjoy being in the present moment. What's the first thought that comes to your mind when we talk about meditation? How can we find time and anchor in our daily routine?
“Meditation is an unmanipulated experience.”
“Mindfulness is being fully present, on purpose, paying attention in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
Mindfulness has become a trend word conveying a diversity of understandings dependent on context. Its meaning spans a wide spectrum of activity and practice. Mindfulness is to keep your attention focused on your work. It's all about being alert and ready to handle any situation ably and intelligently.
Mindful awareness can be cultivated through both formal and informal mindfulness practices. While there are no widely agreed definitions of formal and informal practices, here’s a basic understanding of it.
Formal mindfulness practice can be considered to take place when practitioners specifically set aside time to engage in mindfulness meditation practices such as the body scan, sitting meditation, and mindful movement.
Formal practice: It involves sitting in quiet space for meditation; focus your mind on certain anchors and redirect your mind as it wanders. Anchors are the simple reminder to help you come to your present state of mind mainly through the breath count, sounds in the room, feelings in your hands and feet, prayer/mantra, recognizing and identifying your emotions, and any form of muscular activity. It is recommended to begin the practice for a short duration and gradually advance your way up. Also, it's hard to find the quiet alone time- probably early morning, night time, right after a shower, or whatever suits best in your routine.
Informal mindfulness practice involves weaving mindfulness into existing routines through engaging in mindful moments and bringing awareness to everyday activities, such as mindful eating, washing the dishes, eating, driving, brushing teeth, walking the dog, drinking coffee, and watching a wild bird or flower.
Informal practice: It can be practiced throughout the day. And the easiest way is with the help of external cues like reminders on your watch apps.
One of the biggest benefits of practicing mindfulness is to enjoy simple moments of life and be in the present moment, it helps in overall wellbeing by improving the concentration, sleep cycle, enhancing psychological flexibility, and better-coping stress management. It's a miracle in which we understand and control ourselves better.
In this journey of mindfulness training, I have experienced a sense of positivity and strength around me in some form. I will encourage all individuals who are thinking of getting into the practice of mindfulness to begin by noticing what's going around you and inside you in a systematic way. And, as you go along keep mastering, learning from the experts in the field, and nurturing the art of mindfulness.
"Mindfulness is a seed & presence of life to live fully each minute of life" - Thich Nhat Hanh
University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.” UW Health, www.uwhealth.org/meditation-stress-reduction/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction/49607.
Crane RS. Implementing Mindfulness in the Mainstream: Making the Path by Walking It. Mindfulness (N Y). 2017;8(3):585‐594. doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0632-7
Hạnh Nhất, and Mobi Ho. The Miracle of Mindfulness: an Introduction to the Practice of Meditation. Beacon Press, 2016.
Synovation Mindfulness Group Weekly Sessions by Dr. Mauro Zappaterra https://www.synovationmedicalgroup.com/resource/synovation-mindfulness-group-weekly-sessions-by-dr-mauro-zappaterra
Birtwell, K., Williams, K., van Marwijk, H.et al.An Exploration of Formal and Informal Mindfulness Practice and Associations with Wellbeing.Mindfulness10,89–99 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0951-