I want to bust a myth associated with what it truly means to “practice mindfulness.” And I want to share some tips about how to bring mindfulness into your life.
I have found that the most common misconception about mindfulness meditation is that it can only be achieved “on the cushion.”
That is, unless we are sitting in the lotus position on a cushion, eyes closed, back aligned, thumbs grazing forefingers, hands resting on thighs, then we aren’t practicing mindfulness.
No doubt, this is a feasible and efficient way to cultivate mindfulness. But it’s not the only way.
3 Steps To Mindful Living
I like to conceptualize three categories of mindfulness practice that we can engage in for increased well-being!
1. Formal Meditation
This is what I refer to when I speak about “on the cushion.” It entails intentionally taking time out of our schedule and finding a specific physical space to embark on meditative practice.
This time gives us an opportunity to bear witness to our minds, and to understand and reflect upon our habitual tendencies with a sense of kindness and curiosity rather than judgment.
2. Informal Meditation
The amazing thing about mindfulness is that you can apply it to any action you engage in on a daily basis; cooking, cleaning, walking to work, talking to a friend, driving – anything at all.
In this way, we can continue to deepen our ability to be mindful and train our mind to stay in the present moment rather than habitually straying into the past or future.
Here’s the basic idea. We don’t need to be sitting somewhere specific in order to stay non-judgmentally present to every sensation as it unfolds.
Informal mindfulness meditation means we can rest in mindful awareness at any time of day, no matter what we’re doing.
3. Mindful Living
We begin to live mindfully when our continued formal and informal mindful meditation practices positively impact our relationship with ourselves and with others.
Mindfulness then becomes both a practice and a way of life.
It is not necessarily meditation at all, but the by-product, so to speak. In fact, by engaging in both formal and informal meditation practice, you can cultivate a way of being and a way of life that embodies mindfulness-based principles like gratitude, loving-kindness, and compassion.
While I do guide my patients in both more formal and informal mindfulness practice, the crux of the work we do falls under the category of mindful living.