mindfulness in daily life

What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation?

Erin Cook, Elle Australia: With everyone from Miranda Kerr to Rachael Finch touting mindfulness and meditation as the solution to, well, everything, you can understand why we’re champing at the bit to get on board.

Although, there’s one problem: We’re not 100 per cent sure what mindfulness is. And—while we’re being honest—our understanding of meditation doesn’t extend much further than sitting on the floor, cross-legged and chanting the word ‘om’ until we run out of breath.

According to Kate Kendall, Co-Founder & Director of Yoga at Flow Athletic, mindfulness is a state of …

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Students drawn to mindfulness on campus

wildmind meditation newsMichaela Paul, The Vermont Cynic: At UVM I always hear the term “mindfulness,” yet I never have a complete understanding of what it is and how I too, can practice it.

Mindfulness practices are actually informed by Buddhism, said Lindsay Foreman, director of Engage Mindfulness for Living Well.

But, she explained, one does not have to be Buddhist to engage in mindfulness.

“Actually, many people of different religions practice the techniques of mindfulness to deepen their spiritual experience,” she said. “There is no dogma or belief system, so one does not have to have any …

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An easy mindfulness practice to help you relax

woman drinking coffee

Vidyamala’s online course, Mindfulness for Women: Declutter Your Mind, Simplify Your Life, Find Time to ‘Be’, starts March 1.

Do you always live to – or beyond – your limits? Would you get less done if you took regular breaks?

Many people live in a ‘boom and bust’ way, otherwise known as the overactivity–underactivity cycle. To varying degrees, many of us swing between high energy and low energy.

We do less when we are feeling tired and unmotivated; then, when we feel more energetic, we hectically try to catch up on all the things that we’ve got behind with and end up overdoing it and getting stressed out. This tips us straight back into feeling exhausted and strained again, and so things on the list don’t get done as we are so tired, until there is another blitz on a good day. And so the cycle goes on. And on. And on.

Clearly it’s not such a great way to live and you could try something radical and take breaks before you need them. And we’re not talking about going to bed for the afternoon here or booking a two-week holiday in the sun; it’s a case of simply practising simple mindfulness exercises regularly or standing up to stretch from time to time when working at your desk.

The mindfulness exercise below is an easy way to take a break during your day and practice mindfulness at the same time. Pausing and paying attention to the simple act of boiling the kettle, will help you to break the boom-and-bust cycle that is making you feel so exhausted and strained. Instead of rushing and then going on to the next thing, or having a whirring mind as you make your tea – let your kettle boiling activity be an opportunity to experience your body and your senses and to have some moments of peace and calm. Try and do this meditation each time you stop for tea or coffee.

Boiling a kettle of water is one of those things that we all do several times a day without a moment’s thought. So try paying full mindful attention to filling and boiling a kettle of water.

As you lift the kettle to fill it, how heavy does it feel? Do you fill it via the spout or do you open the lid? Is the lid stiff? Pay full attention as the water swills out of the tap and into the kettle.

Does it hiss and bubble? Does it smell? We are so accustomed to the smell of water that we no longer notice it. Try to imagine how strong the smell of moisture would be if you had just spent a week in a desert. Spend a few moments thinking about how the water reached you. The rain falling on the distant mountains, trickling through rock and soil, until it eventually reaches a stream. Imagine the reservoir, the water-treatment works, the pipelines. Now, imagine all of the engineers and maintenance workers who designed, built and maintained the water network.

Think of the people involved in producing and distributing the electricity; the people growing and distributing the tea, coffee or cocoa that you will use to make your drink. We are all interconnected on myriad levels. And this is just for a cup of tea.

As you return the kettle to the work surface or cooker, pay close attention to your own movements. Were you aware of those movements or did they ‘just happen’? Likewise, did you consciously flick the electric switch to ‘On’ or light the cooker – or did your autopilot take care of things?

Now, listen as the kettle begins to heat. What can you hear? Close your eyes and drink in the sounds. Check in with yourself.

What mode of mind are you operating in? After a few moments, see if you can notice the first stirrings of impatience. Where in the body are they to be found? What do they feel like? Do they feel like a force trying to break out and exert control? Does your breath become constricted in some way? Habits of impatience can be compelling.

When the kettle has almost boiled, what do you do? Do you wait until the thermostat clicks off – or do you rush in and pour the water before it is boiled? See if you can be patient and wait for the thermostat to click off before mindfully lifting the kettle, being aware of your breath as you pour the water.

Spend a moment considering if there are other aspects of daily life that could also be used to cultivate mindfulness. Such ‘everyday mindfulness’ can be at least as important as the formal meditations.

Now take your cup of tea, coffee or cocoa and relax. You’ve earned it.

Vidyamala’s online course, Mindfulness for Women: Declutter Your Mind, Simplify Your Life, Find Time to ‘Be’, starts March 1. Click here for details.

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Mindfulness: Authority bias and finding out who is really in charge? Changing our inner world

Sandy SB, Vajra Blue: “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting its shoes on.”
Mark Twain

Mindfulness is becoming ever more popular and is in danger of being seen as a panacea for all the problems that trouble the human mind. Even when the practice is divorced from the other elements that form part of a spiritual path, it can be a useful tool for self management and helping to create greater contentment for our lives.

Practicing mindfulness can help us to work out …

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Mindfulness leads to appreciation of entertainment’s little moments

Mary Ellen Wright, Lancaster Online: Everyone seems to be practicing mindfulness these days.

They’re trying to live in the moment — taking time to pay attention to, and be grateful for, the everyday things that can enhance our lives if we let them.

One of my perpetual, unofficial New Year’s resolutions is to practice mindfulness in my consumption of entertainment.

I strive to benefit from the little things others might not notice — and, in the process, squeeze every bit of pleasure possible from a performance or event.

I thought of this concept recently at the end …

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Five simple mindfulness practices for people who hate to meditate

wildmind meditation newsJeena Cho, Forbes: The science is clear: practicing mindfulness is good for you. Just as you can exercise the body for better performance, the mind too can be trained, honed and sharpened. Mindfulness has been shown to break negative thought patterns, reduce stress and anxiety, and sharpens focus.

Extract:

Simple mindfulness practices

1. Mindful walking. If sitting meditation isn’t your thing, you can try walking meditation. This is a common practice at meditation retreats, where you’ll often alternate between a period of sitting meditation and walking meditation. You can read this article for details on how to practice walking meditation.

When you get up from your desk to go to the bathroom, talk to a colleague or get a cup of coffee, rather than mindlessly walking, trapped in your thoughts, bring your attention to the physical movement of talking. Notice your feet on the floor, the weight of your body shifting from one leg to the other. Feel your arms swing. Notice the temperature in the room. Pay attention to whatever your senses can notice.

2. Mindful eating. How often do you sit down to eat, completely distracted? Perhaps you’re checking your email, Twitter or Facebook, or just spaced out.

Try this: when eating, simply eat. No digital device, book, newspaper, etc. Try eating alone. Pay attention to what you’re eating, the sensory experiences—taste, smell and texture. Notice the color of the food. You can even spend a moment being grateful for the food you’re consuming.

3. Mindful speaking & listening. One unexpected benefit of mindfulness is that I’ve become a better listener. Rather than thinking of my response (or rebuttal), simply listening, fully and noticing my own internal dialogue has been an interesting experiment. I find that I am much better able to see the other person’s perspective and be more thoughtful in my response. I can also create more spaciousness in the conversation because I’m not rushing or waiting to add my two cents.

Listening is perhaps one of the most valuable gifts we can offer to others. Offer it generously whenever possible and bring your best intentions. Especially in bitterly heated negotiations, or contentious situations, I’ve found that bringing a mindful attitude leaves everyone feeling heard and tends to deescalate charged emotions.

4. Mindful showering and washing. During my first mindfulness class at Stanford University, our instructor, Mark Abramson, D.D.S., assigned “mindful showering” as our first homework. We often miss moments of pleasure and enjoyable sensory experience due to constant distraction and busyness of the mind.

Rather than going through your day’s to-do list, worrying about that meeting you have later in the day, feeling angry after reliving some argument you had 10 years ago or whatever may be distracting your mind, simply pause and feel the shower. Notice the warm water, all the delightful scents, and give a moment of gratitude for the privilege of clean water.

5. Practice yoga. It’s rather unfortunate that yoga as it’s often practiced is simply seen as “exercise.” The practice of yoga is much more than that. It’s the perfect place to practice mindfulness. During your next yoga class, really bring all of your awareness to what is happening. I like to start each yoga practice by taking a minute or so to simply notice the sensation of my feet on the yoga mat. On the days where I can’t make it to the studio, I still practice. I really enjoy Yoga with Adriene for short practices I can do at home or when I’m traveling.

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Mindfulness: solitude, spending time with ourself

Sandy SB, Vajra Blue: In the modern world with its lifestyle of continuous connection and instant availability, it is not surprising that we seem to have become afraid of being alone.

As a social species, human survival has depended on being part of a group. The greater the crowd, the smaller the chance of any one person being eaten.

There is safety in numbers.

The accompanying fear of silence, presumably related to the silence that falls when a predator is close at hand, seems to go beyond a …

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Why teaching kindness in schools is essential to reduce bullying

Lisa Currie, Edutopia: Phrases like “random acts of kindness” and “pay it forward” have become popular terms in modern society. This could perhaps be best explained by those who have identified a deficiency in their lives that can only be fulfilled by altruism.

It seems there are good reasons why we can’t get enough of those addictive, feel-good emotions, as scientific studies prove there are many physical, emotional, and mental health benefits associated with kindness.

As minds and bodies grow, it’s abundantly clear that children require a healthy dose …

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How mindfulness practices are changing an inner-city school

Donna St. George, The Washington Post: At many schools, the third-grader would have landed in the principal’s office.

But in a hardscrabble neighborhood in West Baltimore, the boy who tussled with a classmate one recent morning instead found his way to a quiet room that smelled of lemongrass, where he could breathe and meditate.

The focus at Robert W. Coleman Elementary is not on punishment but on mindfulness — a mantra of daily life at an unusual urban school that has moved away from detention and suspension to something …

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Three mindful ways to calm an anxious mind

Elisha Goldstein, Mindful.org: Stress and anxiety are a part of life, especially during these times of uncertainty. But we don’t need to be enslaved by our anxiety, we can strengthen our mindful skills to ease our anxious minds.

Stress and anxiety are a part of life, especially during these times of uncertainty. However, we don’t need to be enslaved by our anxiety and instead can strengthen our mindful skills to ease our anxious minds, come into our lives and grow in confidence.

1. Release the critic. Not only is anxiety painful enough, but we …

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