In the words of our meditation instructor, Kirat Randhawa, “Mindfulness is inherently joyful. It entails waking up to the truth of experience in its natural form with a stable mind and an open heart. It is an invitation to become familiar with the unfolding of the present moment with all its nuances - the suffering, the peace, the spaciousness. In this way, we can learn how to identify the elements that cause us to suffer and the elements that bring us freedom, and gradually work to diminish the causes of suffering and cultivate the causes of lasting happiness.” Our world is full of distractions, and finding this quality of awareness can be exceptionally challenging. With the help of Kirat, we put together a few of our tips for practicing daily mindfulness.
Start by bringing awareness to daily tasks
If you’re new to the practice, start by bringing focused attention to one or two of your daily tasks. When making your morning cup of coffee or tea, slow down and observe each step in the process. Watch closely as you pour the beverage into the mug, observing the steam that comes from the top and the richness of the color. Then take a few moments to sip in silence, focusing on the temperature, the taste, and the aroma. You can also practice being mindful while washing the dishes or making your bed in the morning -- starting with these small tasks can show you how much capacity there is for awareness in every moment.
Set aside dedicated time to meditate
Whether you’re using an app like Headspace or simply sitting with the breath, make sure you have a dedicated time to do so. “The quality is more important than the quantity, [but] consistency is key,” Kirat says. “Five-ten minutes of focused attention a day is better than 45-60 minutes of distracted attention per week.” Meditation can be beneficial at any time of the day, but doing so in the morning after you wake up can help set the tone for further awareness throughout the day.
Be intentional with technology
Technology, although full of possibilities for growth and learning, can disrupt our attention quite easily. Try to set an intention each time you pick up your phone or log on to your laptop. Ask yourself: What am I here to do? Focus solely on that task and, once you’re done, step away. Being intentional with your use can help you redefine your relationship with technology, freeing yourself from its distractive hold so you are able to be present in each moment.
Expressing gratitude goes hand-in-hand with mindfulness. When we consistently reflect on the things we’re grateful for in life, we prime the mind to notice the good. In the morning when you wake up, write down three things you’re grateful for, and follow it up with 3 things you appreciated during the day before you fall asleep.
Go at your own pace
Take your time and be patient with yourself as you begin to practice. “There’s no rush to arrive or reach a specific stage,” Kirat says. “The cultivation of mindfulness is a gradual path and requires patience, compassion, and relaxation. The softer and kinder we approach our mindfulness practice, the deeper we can access all that it has to offer.”