We all have lost mindfulness in daily life… the day to day mindful living. We have become mechanical. The hectic schedules, the everyday repetitive monotonous routine is enslaving us to run in a loop. We do exist but, not live.
Why Mindfulness? Problem is not the numbers… Problem is the quality of ones thoughts.
Mindfulness in daily life is the everyday meditative act of being in a non judgmental awareness of ones ‘present moment’ thoughts, perceptions, as one goes through the day to day life activities.
Mindfulness is not a session that you soulfully do for a fixed hour or so…
Mindfulness in everyday life is an exercise that demands every moment of your everyday. The purpose of mindfulness is to be aware of ones actions, break free of the perception shackles and change what needs changing. Only Mindfulness can take you to a state of Mindlessness. Mindfulness meditation can benefit your physical, mental and spiritual state of being.
The first mantra of mindfulness is… suspend judgement.
Can you practice mindfulness at home?
Mindfulness is a lifestyle choice and not something one has to study theoretically per se. The most important question is whether you want to adapt it in your daily life or not.
Once you have made that decision, whether you practice at home, at a centre, or in a group is secondary and least important. The fact is all you need is an open mind and a receptive heart.
Initially mindfulness group exercises may help. Sangha or a community is quite effective for those who are testing waters and are unsure how well they can adapt to the practice.
Some of us are very impulsive or easily distracted. Ideally a practice centre would be a good choice in that case. In a group or community, exercising mindfulness together becomes very joyful and effective. One tends to be way more steady and relaxed amidst a bunch of like-minded people.
Moreover, practicing everyday mindfulness exercises in a group helps as a reminder and a solid support for everyone as they keep helping and reminding each other of their practices. Group mindfulness exercises can help initially, till you learn to engage the senses, on your own.
Mindfulness is self talk, which no one else can help you master
At the end of the day, mindfulness is still something you adapt, for yourself and others can only aid the process. The main work still totally depends on you. Hence, even if you exercise mindfulness one step at a time during your everyday activity – it will reap numerous benefits. All that matters is that you want to harmonise your life, be skilful & smart in your practice, learn to solidify your aspirations and free yourself of fears & misunderstandings.
Practices to bring in mindfulness in daily life…
Being mindful is no rocket science. It just requires the desire to embrace openness and let go of… …
Talking about it and how to practice it, we will be discussing simple things that you do regularly in your daily life and how these can help you be more aware of your life and surroundings. These help you live in the present.
Mindfulness alters your senses and helps you perceive things, people and events in a way more enhanced and joyful way
With the ever growing negative energy around us and with mechanical lives crippling us emotionally, we have forgotten how to enjoy the little things in life and this is where being aware and keeping your senses active 24×7 can be an amazing transformation. Let us not waste time and jump into daily activities which can help us practice mindfulness in daily life.
1/23. Start writing a journal everyday
You don’t need to be articulate to keep a personal diary. You don’t need to have a flair for writing and you certainly don’t need to worry about how it’s perceived. Your journal is only for your eyes, if that is how you want it to be.
All these incidents and instances of keeping journals and personal diaries have resulted in self-help and heightened self-belief. Journal writing and keeping spiritual diaries prove as an outlet for thoughts and emotions. They invoke ‘Vichara’ which can be loosely translated to introspection, self-enquiry… mindfulness. This is mindfulness in daily life… it helps you be fully mindful of that you have done in the moments gone by.
Journal writing aids you with unburdening yourself and clear your mind. It can often shower you with answers to your unrelenting questions. In fact, writing in a journal not only proves therapeutic but is also a means of building on creativity.
Journalising is said to tap your inner source of wisdom, which you probably aren’t even aware of.
You can progress your emotional, mental and even spiritual growth through reading your own journal a few years down the line. Once you start writing, you will see it as an extension of you.
Journalising emotions can help to release blockages. It is better to write about these feelings than to take it out on the people around you or to keep them inside you. Life is a long journey and everyone has flaws. It is important you embrace and examine your flaws by writing about them in your journal.
A word advice though… Don’t be too serious in your journals, pen down your thoughts in as fun and uniquely creative way as possible.
2/23. Breathing exercises train the mind
Breathing exercises should be ones go to routine for everyday mindfulness. Breathing can be that one faithful friend that we take refuge in no matter what.
Breathing is like a universal truth and irrespective of how you are feeling inside – happy, joyous, sad, or angry, breathing is something that’s constant… like a solid ground for us.
“Breathing In, I calm my body,
Breathing Out, I smile…”
The beautiful thing about breathing is that we don’t control it. We just need to feel it as it is…feel the flow of air as we inhale or exhale. We will feel how light and calm, how natural and peaceful our breathing function is.
Whether we are battling a turmoil internally, or just torn between thoughts, whether we are scattered amidst a thousand problems or just drowning in a deep emotion, breathing is like a deep-rooted anchor that helps us collect our mind and stabilise ourselves.
Breath awareness exercises are the key ingredient in harmonising our mind and body together to bring a sense of awareness and mindfulness in our daily life.
Regardless of whether we are breathing shallow or deep, whether we have short or long breathing at any given point, practicing conscious breathing will eventually lead to slow and deep yogic breaths. This will help us remain calm, composed, and joyous.
A writer’s note… Breath awareness is my most important tool of mindfulness in daily life. I incorporate it in everything I do… on an everyday basis. Yes! Breath awareness was difficult initially but it comes naturally now.
3/23. Exercise frequently
In addition to its effects on physical and mental well being, regular physical exercises has been linked to improved mindfulness, concentration, memory and learning abilities.
Nancy Hellmich of USA today reports her findings on effect of exercises on youth academic performance in 2010 article. She reported that breaks for physical exercise improve attention and concentration and scores on standardized academic achievement tests than extra lessons.
As little as 15 minutes of aerobic exercises has been reported to improve concentration, classroom attentiveness and mindfulness in children of elementary school, as reported by Dr. Stewart Trost of Oregon state university.
Exercise has also been shown to improve focus in people with ADHD, as it triggers the release of chemicals in the brain that affect memory and concentration.
A report from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign suggests that aerobic exercises improves immediate and long term functioning of the brain regions controlling attention.
4/23. Try to do one thing at a time, and do it with completion
If you start doing a new project before completing the last one, you are sending the information to your brain that it’s ok to switch from one thing to another and this can seriously impact your concentration.
So to improve your focus, convince your brain for finishing the present task no matter how small that is. As even the smallest uncompleted task can have reverberations over the task you want to accomplish. Completion of a task doesn’t imply you This may look like a simple routine, but I feel it should be right up there in everyones everyday mindfulness exercises schedule.
5/23. Minimise external distractions
A lot of different ways exist to easily block external distractions as one can not be mindful all the times. A lot of gadgets and apps are built to minimize loud noises and blinking lights. Here are a few simple suggestions to limit these common distractions:
Wear headphones or earplugs: If loud noise is breaking your focus then the most logical approach is to remove them from the equation. Noise cancelling headphones or earplugs can do the job. If you want to block all outside cues, consider recording your entire day on a digital recorder to find from where and when those sounds are coming so you can reschedule your day according to them.
Strap on your digital blinders: Block audio and visual notifications as they can wreck serious havoc or our concentration. Try to set up timed internet blocks that can block your emails or Facebook notifications or you can use browser extensions to keep you on track. You can use apps like unroll.me that takes all your email notifications and rolls into a single daily email digest, so that you don’t get notifications throughout the day.
While these were tips on reducing the external distractions, distractions can also happen from within you. These are generally the result of restless thinking. Learn how to restrain mind from restless thinking.
6/23. Prepare yourself bodily and mentally… every morning
When we wake up every morning, we must realise we have a fresh start and 24 hours ahead of us which are very precious. We shouldn’t wake up for the fact that we have to, and go about our daily lives. We must instead wake up with a smile and a wish to dedicate ourselves completely for the next 24 hours to constructive energy and a bunch of dreams.
Wake up every day with a thought that something amazing is going to happen… even if it doesn’t happen.
We must remember this and probably say this to ourselves every morning as we wake up. It is always healthy to wake up to a positive start and revived energy.
We can also, instead of getting up from the bed right away, take a few deep breaths. Massaging the neck, shoulders, head or arms gently before getting off the bed is also a good practice. Stretching out a bit after waking up or having a glass of warm water first thing in the morning is also great for our system. These quick and small practices help in blood circulation, and also help us achieve a state of mindfulness in everyday life.
7/23. Try to wiggle your toes
“The frenetic nature of our society — constant updates via e-mail and Twitter, for example – provides some sort of excitement every few minutes, and we’ve become trained to expect that,” says author of the charisma myth, Olivia Fox Cabane. “If we’re not stimulated after a short period of time, we look around for something that will do the job. This is true whether we’re reading a dull news story or involved in a conversation.”
To bring your focus back to the present, Cabane recommends taking a break to focus your attention on your toes. This quick mindful wiggling of toes will instantly bring you back on the track.
8/23. Sitting meditation as mat simulation for mindfulness in daily life
Have you ever noticed the peaceful Buddha sitting on an altar? Sitting meditation gives a similar kind of peace and calmness. It radiates a strong sense of self-care and awareness of what is in and around us.
To practice sitting mindfulness meditation, we must always sit upright with our backs straight and focus on our breathing. We must try to be calm, peaceful, and learn to let it go – just like we inhale, absorb and then exhale.
Meditating is not just about focussing on the positivity. It is also about understanding, accepting your negative thoughts, and learning to either accept them and/or letting them go.
Sitting mindfulness meditation can be immensely healing. It helps us experience whatever is within us – be it love, hatred, joy, grief, peace and agitations. The motto is to try and maintain a rhythmic breathing while staying calm, even if there is turmoil inside.
Ideally you should sit in a normal position and not be distracted or shift positions. It is understandable if your legs start hurting or get numb you should gently switch position without opening your eyes or getting distracted. Try and maintain a steady and slow breathing while shifting too.
9/23. Do not rush eat. Be mindful of your daily meals
Eating a meal is similar to a meditative practice where we need to immerse our presence completely. Before starting your meal, you can take in a moment to absorb all that is on the platter. We can think about how so many elements come together to gift us with this lovely meal and how the universe is supporting us and providing for our existence.
“Never eat anything that you don’t enjoy,
And, truly enjoy everything you eat…”
Another important thing to always keep in mind is to take your time enjoying every bite of what you are eating. Enjoy the present moment and absorb in the flavours in every bite and don’t rush or swallow. This also helps in boosting our digestive system.
Do not talk or let yourself get distracted – just focus on the flavours and the different elements in the food. This helps in becoming mindful about the presence of the food and the nourishment it provides. On finishing a meal, we must take a minute to feel that our platter is now empty and our hunger is now fully satisfied.
10/23. Even Sex Can Be Done With Mindfulness
Sex is an integral part of adulthood. When the practice of mindfulness is taken to the practice of sex, there is improvement in sexual desire, health and satisfaction. A number of studies have already been conducted on how mindfulness benefits sexual health and there is no disputing the fact that it can help in overcoming many sexual problems. By remaining awake in the present, you can experience of what your body and mind is going through and how this is enhancing the blissful and pleasurable experience.
11/23. Make work meditative. Do not try to rush and finish
We all have numerous chores to finish and often these chores feel hectic and tiring. Have you ever wondered why? Because, we treat them like a chore and are not interested in doing them.
If you start to find meaningfulness in most of the chores you do, they would seem much less tiring. Above everything, it will teach you to be patient even through unpleasant times and will help you gain mindfulness in daily life; help savour every moment.
Wherever you are…be there totally.Eckhart Tolle.
Whether you are doing the dishes, cleaning, doing laundry, or gardening – try to do so in a calm and quiet environment. Focus on your breathing; enjoy every little detail of what you are doing. Do not try to rush and finish. Instead, focus on relaxing and being mindful of your surroundings.
12/23. Infuse cooking with love and mindfulness, along with the spices
As surprising as it may sound, the kitchen is quite an interesting meditating space to practice mindfulness in daily life. We do our kitchen chores just as we do otherwise, except, we relax and don’t rush it like always.
Remember to infuse a lot of mindfulness and love in whatever you are cooking. Remember to not distract yourself with other things and focus solely on cooking and try to feel the joy and peace radiating around.
13/23. Chewing gum can help
Chewing gum boosts reaction time and accuracy rates along with enhancing ability to focus as proved by the study published in British Journal of Psychology.
The researchers believed that chewing gum by increasing blood supply to the brain improves oxygenation of the brain areas responsible for attention and focus.
14/23. Take to doodling
Doodling is not only a good brain exercise but it has been proved to help us to focus better, grasp new concepts and retain information.
According to the study published in the medical journal The Lancet, doodling engages brain defaults network s- the brain regions that maintain a baseline brain activity even when the outside stimulus is not present.
15/23. Be creative. Get lost in a good story…
You can use entertainment in the form of reading a book, or playing a sport, which demands concentration for improving your focus.
Dr Perry suggests one can use any type of entertainment to utilize your escapism as a means to calibrate your brain to focusing but it should be challenging and you should be doing it actively.
This kind of mindfulness training exercise won’t simply allow you to run off and start working on the project without having to worry about distractions but by training you will get used to the feeling of being focused and this feeling transfers over across everything you do.
16/23. Be mindful of internalised solitude and silence
In the daily hustle-bustle, we often forget how important and imperative it is to have some time for ourselves – some solitude. Solitude does not mean going far away from civilisation and sitting alone in some hut at a mountain top. Solitude means finding that calmness within to have a stable mind and soul which does not get distracted.
In your silence, when there are no words, no language,OSHO
nobody else is present, you are getting in tune with existence
Solitude is all about ensuring you have some time with yourself and your surroundings without any disturbances around you or within. There might be a crowd around you, or a sea of memories, maybe stress or worry about the future, a sad memory from the past, an exciting prospect in the near future or just a happy present. The key is to filter out all of this and take refuge in the beautiful serenity within us.
Smile to yourself, maintain deep and slow breaths, and learn to slowly drain out all the negativity, all emotions, and perceptions.
Being mindful in solitude helps in attaining and enhancing coherence of brain.
17/23. Anger is an undeniable reality. Accept and process it.
Have you ever noticed how anger is just like a crying baby seeking the warmth and loving arms of a mother.
When we are angry, we essentially just look for the care and love of ourselves. We often tend to reject or reprise anger, but there is no sense to it.
Suppressing or rejecting anger just makes it worse…
You should instead welcome anger with love and compassion. Anger is just an emotion stemming from a need or an incident.
Do not interact, speak out or do anything – it will probably just make things work. Isn’t it amazing how silence can be so powerful? Be quiet, try to calm down first by taking deep breaths and practicing mindfulness. Once you are calm, open yourself to your anger, take your time, understand where it is rooted, and half your work is done.
Anger doesn’t solve anything, it builds nothing,
But, it can destroy everything.
Be it a situation, an incident, or a person that is aggravating the anger in you; always remember to take refuge in calmness and in silence.
Once you introspect, you will be able to locate and isolate the cause of your anger. There might be a certain characteristic in a person that you did not like, or maybe it might reflect a weakness or our own that we are afraid to address.
Anger and stress are root causes of high blood pressure, also called hypertension. Mindfulness can help reduce blood pressure.
18/23. Drink more water
A 2012 study published in The Journal of Nutrition claimed that even the mild dehydration can affect our concentration and mindfulness. In the study when the participants were less than 2 percent dehydrated (in this study, from not drinking enough water after exercise), their ability to concentrate on a series of cognitive tests was affected.
“When the brain detects even the smallest changes in physiology, it may begin operating at a suboptimal level to get your attention,” said study co-author Harris Lieberman. “Thirst is not the best measure of hydration, so a decrease in your ability to focus is an early warning signal that it’s time to drink up.”
19/23. Acceptance can lead to love… Self LOVE.
We were just talking about how we should try to identify our anger about other/others around you. But, then what should we do? React? Or ignore? Actually, you should do neither of those! You must accept whatever the root cause is, be it another person’s characteristic or a weakness of yours.
20/23. Increase Attention and Concentration
We all struggle to sustain concentration in our daily lives. Countless distractions keep our brains from focusing on the task at hand. Read on… Science behind Attention and Concentration.
21/23. Try the five more ‘mindfulness’ rule
Whenever your mind wants to quit or lose concentration, convince yourself to do it for five more minutes of whatever task you were doing. If you are solving a math problem do five more problems, if you are reading, read five more pages and you will feel the energy deep within to do what you were doing.
Surrender to what is. Let go of what was.Sonia Ricotti.
Have faith in what will be…
22/23. Sharing is caring
This concept definitely applies to mindfulness. We have often heard that listening is very important for any conversation. Turns out it is just as imperative to practice mindfulness in daily life – because your everyday life cannot go around without interacting with others.
Practice breathing exercises and try to focus your full attention to the person when you are talking to someone or having a conversation. This helps you resonate and benefit from collective insight of others around you. You learn to grow as a person, and also learn to grow patient, calm, and peaceful. You can be a great listener and will also help create a receptive and calm environment, when talking to someone.
Sitting together, sharing experiences, basking in a similar joyous vibe is not just informative and introspective, but also helps you identify your true connections in life too.
23/23. REST… It Helps rejuvenate!
No practice is complete unless you know how to maintain a balance and ensure that your body is not tired. Practicing mindfulness is not something that tires you. On the contrary, it is a practice that energies and rejuvenates you.
If you are feeling tired, then you are not resting enough and your body is trying to communicate that with you. No practice, be it mindfulness or anything else can be best done with a tired body and a worked up mind.
One often confuses resting with sleeping, but it is not the same. Resting means to give your mind and body a break from whatever you are doing. It means to take a 5-minute walk outside, to sit and relax somewhere in silence, or anything else. The whole point of resting is to practice mindfulness breathing while sitting, standing, or lying down. That is your only focus and you erase everything else from your mind, and stop everything else that you are doing.
This is what restores and resets both our body and mind and is crucial to enjoy a healthy life and practice mindfulness in its true essence. Literally not doing anything or not thinking about anything is an art and is incredibly healing.
Of course, sleep is also resting and at the end of the day, we do need to go to sleep. Mindful and slow deep breaths can help you fall asleep sooner. Try to keep your heart calm, and mind free.
After practicing mindfulness in every day life, and after spreading your share of love and joy around and within, it is time for you to let your body and mind naturally reset and gear you up for the next day. You can then start your everyday afresh with new aspirations!
Mindfulness in daily life is about everything we do otherwise, but differently.
This small and simple change can turn your life around and can even give you a new hope and direction!
We have covered the basics of how you can exercise mindfulness in daily life and learn to be more aware and gradually create a beautiful harmony between your body and mind.
But practicing it is a never ending process and these are not the only activities where you limit yourself. Keep practicing mindfulness and see how it changes you and your perceptions – about you, about others, and most importantly, about life.
In the end just three things matter…
How well we have lived.
How well we have loved.
How well we have learnt to let go.
Btw, to know more about how to incorporate everyday mindfulness exercise, mindfulness meditation and related exercises and activities, please consult a related expert…
A lot of yoga ashrams have started conducting everyday mindfulness exercises, mindfulness retreats, workshops, courses, classes or lectures along with specific mindfulness exercises for anxiety, stress and depression etc… and mostly, they are on the mark. Do attend them, as the benefits of mindfulness are immense. All the Best!
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Mindfulness means being totally aware of the present. While being mindful, you stop being judgmental. You just have to acknowledge and accept, without resisting or questioning, thoughts, feelings and sensations.
Mindfulness meditation is a practice to train the mind to remain focused on the present. It requires a person to be aware of every action that is being done in the present and of any thought, feeling or sensation that happens. It also requires the person to just acknowledge distracting thoughts without being judgmental, let these go off and bring back attention to the present. Mindfulness Meditation does to the mind what physical exercise does to the body.
Mindfulness is the state of being aware of and focused on the present moment. The focus can be on breath or on work being done. If any thought comes by, a mindful state allows one to just accept it without getting involved it in any way and letting it calmly pass-by.
Mindfulness has many benefits for mind. It helps manage our stress, anxiety and depression levels. It allows us to remain focused and improves concentration span. If done daily and for a long time, it can also help in reducing memory loss with ageing. It also helps us control wandering thoughts and negative emotions. All these help in better coordination between mind and body resulting in overall wellness.
Mindfulness is not just about sitting and focusing on breath to be in the present. It is a lot more like a practical exercise, which can be inculcated in our daily routines. You can be more mindful while going for a walk outside, taking up any creative work, avoiding multi-tasking to reduce mental stress, accept boredom, do not take things for granted however small these might be and taking up daily routine works such as eating, brushing teeth and others with full awareness of remaining in present.
Mindfulness is a mind training exercise which aims to improve your mental and physical health. MRI scans of brains of those people who practice mindfulness have shown that the amygdala region grey matter reduces which leads to reduction of stress levels. The grey matter in pre-frontal cortex area of brain thickens which aids creativity, emotional control, planning and problem solving ability. It also thickens the hippocampus area of brain which leads to enhanced learning and good memory. Numerous other medical studies have shown benefits of mindfulness, especially for brain by detecting the positive changes occurring in the brain.
Mindfulness meditation is a practice of being aware only of the present, without thinking about past or future. The thoughts, feelings and other emotions which are experienced during the present are watched but these are not adjudged, thereby preventing involvement in these.
Mindfulness meditation can be done by focusing on breath while sitting down on ground or on a chair with feet touching ground and spine straight. It can also be inculcated into daily practice at the time of eating, walking, brushing teeth or doing any other task. It can also be practiced in office while working. The aim is to remain in the present and bring the attention from wandering thoughts back to the work.
By ‘watching’ thoughts, the meaning is that you shall just acknowledge and accept that these thoughts are there without thinking into the merits of the content of these thoughts and then bring back the attention to focus on the present activity (breathing or any other). It is not possible to forcibly control the thought from coming but it is certainly possible to not get involved in these in any way. There is no need to “think over” these thoughts, just accept whatever these are and do not make any judgments. You have to let these pass-by and see these going off, just as a person sees vehicles passing by him.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation only. These can be called distinct but are related to one another. Meditation, per se, refers to the practice of cultivating a “no-mind” situation whereas mindfulness accepts and acknowledges “awareness” situation. Mindfulness is a more practical type of meditation wherein the mind is trained to remain in the present while doing everyday tasks and being aware of the thoughts, feelings, sensations and emotions that crop up, without interfering in these in anyway.
Mindfulness can lead to mindlessness situation with regular practice. Mindfulness supports meditation, and meditation nurtures mindlessness.
At the core of mindfulness training is attaining the state of remaining aware of the present without being judgmental about any thought that comes by. It is well-established by numerous medical studies that it has multi-dimensional positive influences on human body and mind. Mindfulness alters the chemical compositions to increase the good ones and reduce the harmful ones for your physical and mental health.
It helps control blood pressure by reducing stress levels as you are less disturbed by wandering thoughts. This improves functioning of cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive systems. It also helps improve cognition, attention span and memory and reduces loss of memory due to ageing. It also prepares us to cope up with the existing illnesses. Therefore, it helps people of all age groups to live better lives.
When you are mindful or in state of awareness about the present actions or thoughts, then the tendency to speed up things slows down. You are not a man in hurry while doing any task. It is a different matter, though, that with improved attention the work may be finished early and is done qualitatively better. While switching from one task to another, you tend to give a brief pause to recollect your awareness to again focus on the task ahead.
An example can be taken of driving a car. If you are mindful meditator, your mind will not be unrested on encountering a traffic jam. Rather, it will accept it as it is and will not stress the mind.
Another example of mindfulness could be the eating activity can be taken. This is all about listening to your body to know whether you are really that hungry to go for food putting aside the time elapsed since the last meal. If it really demands the food, then it is worthwhile to relish the food of its taste and flavours. When eating is not taken for granted and due attention is paid, it is mindful eating meditation.
Similarly, a person can be mindful while taking a leisurely walk noticing how he is moving, which all joints are moving along, etc.
People can practice mindfulness without meditation by imbibing it in their daily routine activities. Right from waking up, having a walk or working out in gym, brushing teeth, taking bath, getting ready for work, driving the car to office, working in office, having meals and even engaging in sex, all of these can be done mindfully without actually sitting down to attain a meditative “No-mind” situation. You just have to remain aware of the present and be in a state of ‘being’ in present without holding out judgments in favour of or against any thought.
Mindfulness meditation is mindful because it does not require you to attain a “no-mind” state by restricting entry of thoughts. Rather, it would require you to just accept that the wandering thoughts are coming and then watch these go off without making any judgment about these. At the same time, it trains your mind to focus on the present and do the work with utmost attention by remaining aware of doing it. The state of being in the present can be implemented in routine works that people do, therefore, there is state of clear mindfulness rather than the typical “no-mind” of the meditation state. For these reasons, mindfulness meditation is mindful.
Mindfulness and flow have glaring differences and some similarities. The key difference is that mindfulness requires you to remain aware and maintain this state of awareness whereas flow requires you to loose self-awareness while doing an activity. Mindfulness involves cultivating an observer or a state of being. In contrast, flow is about dissolving the observer within an altered state of consciousness and moving into a continuous stream of activity. The difference can also be understood with an analogy. Mindfulness is akin to standing on the bank of a river just watching the flow whereas Flow is venturing into the river to get the task done.
Yes, it is possible to teach mindfulness to kids. This can be done at school and even at home. Kids are, by nature, obedient and follow what their teachers and parents say. So, mindfulness practices can be cultivated in them. Some of the activities which are generally undertaken in this respect are ‘brain breaks’ in between homework, going on ‘listening walks’, engaging with food by asking them about the flavour and taste and not watching TV or doing any other activity, doing a body scan activity while going to bed, breathing buddy technique and many others.
It has been seen in various studies conducted on measuring the impact of mindfulness on kids that they are able to handle the stressful environment better, have more focus and longer attention span, are more punctual and get better marks.
Mindfulness meditation has proven to be useful for mental health in many ways. It is one of the best stress-buster methods, helps control negative emotions and feelings, develops greater cognition ability and focus, brings about psychological and behavioural changes for good in people, prevents or reduces loss of memory, enhances learning and prepares the mind to take emergent situations with more resilience.
Some of the best mindfulness exercises are done while sitting down on ground or on chair, in a comfortable posture with straight spine, and focusing on inhalation and exhalation of breath.
While eating food, just focus on taste and flavours and do not watch TV or play with mobile along with. You can also go for a body scan exercise while lying down straight on your back.
Backwards counting is another way of being mindful about the present because focus is required to ensure that counting does not go wrong.
Another mindfulness exercise that really works is the silent walks, to be initially started in the mornings, when the distractions are less. The same can be tried during the day once one is a little more aware of ones thoughts.
Mindfulness is about turning the attention to awareness of being present in the moment by focusing on breath or any other thing. It is a training of mind to be in the present and not be judgmental.
Transcendental Meditation, on the other hand, aims to take the person beyond the process of thinking to the source of thought. So, it strives to take the flow of attention beyond mindfulness towards blissful silence. Unlike Mindfulness which trains the mind, it seeks to liberate the mind and effortlessly settle down into a state of silence which is more profound than the present moment.
Many view Transcendental Meditation as the next step to Mindfulness meditation. Some also view Mindfulness to be one effect of Transcendental Meditation.
No specific time limit can be ascribed to the mindfulness meditation to work because it varies from person to person. However, the most common acceptance is that if done on daily basis for at least 10 minutes, then you begin to feel the difference in a week’s time. Medical researchers and therapists have designed mindfulness-based programs ranging for a few weeks in order to produce beneficial results in patients.
Mindfulness meditation reduces stress levels by bringing the attention and awareness of the person to the present without being judgmental about the thoughts that come in the way. By taking away attention from all other things or thoughts, whether worries of future or rumination of past, the mind reduces the levels of stress. This also leads to reduction in the production of stress-hormones in the brain which were released to cope with high stress levels.
Mindfulness is all about being aware of the present and focusing on it. Whenever the mind wanders away, to bring it back consciously again. On the other hand, concentration refers to the state of wholesome single-pointedness of mind. It is all about retaining the attention on an object and not letting it waver.
So, both Mindfulness meditation and concentration meditation seem to work hand-in-glove, despite the two being different functions. Whenever attention wavers, mindfulness brings it back and the concentration does not let it go away with a forced conscious effort.
Mindfulness meditation practice requires you to focus on breath- inhale and exhale, irrespective of the way you are breathing. However, as the awareness of breathing becomes more intense and draws more inward, every inhale becomes deeper and every exhale becomes longer as well. The role of diaphragm in deep breathing assumes importance as it allows for more volume of air to fill the lungs while inhaling and follows up with complete exhalation.
Vipassana meditation requires you to make proper arrangements for a formal sitting for meditation practice. However, for mindfulness meditation, there is no such need of a formal sitting. You can remain mindful even when you are walking, eating, doing any activity or just about anything.
However, Vipassana is to be done only by sitting and remaining aware about the present without doing anything else. Basically, the difference is in preparations to meditation, the practice remains the same.
Another difference could be that Vipassana is closely and normally associated with Theravada Buddhism as it finds its origins there. However, Mindfulness is not associated with any religion. Even Vipassana, due to its widespread reach beyond Buddhist followers, is fast becoming more widely accepted.