Observe without getting influenced by your expectations and desires.
- Observe as usual. Notice the environment and other people.
- As you observe, see if there are any expectations or desire to predict something that may be influencing your observation.
- Don’t suppress those expectations and desires. Simply become aware of them, and then move on.
- As you observe, see if there are any extraneous thoughts arising in your mind. Spot any expectations and desires underlying them that are influencing the observation.
- Don’t suppress them. Simply become aware of them, and move on.
- Expand your span of attention and let the perceptions pour in.
- Let the realizations present themselves to you without you making any effort.
- Use your own judgment as to when to end a session.
Develop this exercise to a point where you are doing it naturally even while interacting socially with others. Keep observing patiently without expecting anything, or attempting to get an answer. Many things may come up naturally to be scrutinized. Simply observe them and become aware of them without effort.
- Observe without expecting anything, or attempting to get an answer.
- Observe things as they really are, not as they seem to be.
- If something is missing do not imagine something else in its place.
- If something does not make sense then do not explain it away.
- Use physical senses as well as mental sense to observe.
- Let the mind un-stack itself.
- Experience fully what is there.
- Do not suppress anything.
- Associate data freely.
- Do not get hung up on name and form.
- Contemplate thoughtfully.
- Let it all be effortless.
Awareness of the 5 Senses
Take a moment to experience whatever you are doing with each of your 5 senses. As you go through each sense, attempt to experience it through the sense, rather than describing it in your mind. For example, bring all of your attention and awareness to the ambient sounds in your environment. Instead of trying to label or recognize each sound, just listen to the quality of the sounds as if they are totally new and you’ve never noticed them before. Do so with curiosity, interest, and openness, without judging or having any preferences. Approach your experience of the moment through each of your 5 senses in a similar way (taking note of any smells that are present, noticing what sensations you are experiencing through your body, etc.). A good way to practice this technique is by eating a bite of food–try it with a single raisin, piece of popcorn, or a piece of chocolate.
Take a walk, and in the same way that you continually return your attention to your breath while mindful breathing, return your attention to each step as you walk. Walk slower than you normally do so that you can really pay attention to the sensations of your feet and leg muscles keeping your body in balance. Slowing down your normal walking pace will also make the movement feel a little less automatic, which will help you to pay attention to what you are doing.
Mindfulness of distressing emotions
This one may take some more practice, but think of something that is bothering you. Notice any tendencies to try to ignore, control, change, or resist that thought or that circumstance. Allow yourself to continue thinking of whatever is bothering you. As your thoughts start to spin about why this thing makes you feel upset, shift your focus to the absolute present moment: how are you experiencing this emotion in your body right now? What physiological sensations are present? Some common sensations are tightness in your forehead, jaw, chest, back, shoulders, or fists, as well as uneasiness in your stomach, shallower breaths, or increased heart rate. There is often a tendency to push away these sensations, but mindfulness entails openness to present experience. Welcome these sensations and allow them to be here. Give yourself permission to experience these sensations, and give the sensations permission to exist in your body. Neuroscience research has shown that the average duration of an emotion on a physiological level is approximately 90 seconds. By focusing your attention on the transient physical sensations that correspond to the emotion in an open and non-judging way (as opposed to focusing on the reasons you feel that way), you are able to stay more present and you will be less susceptible to getting caught up in cycles of negative thoughts.
Take your camera, but leave the film or memory card behind. Go on a walk and observe the unique and beautiful scenery in your surroundings. Take your time framing shots, breath, and focus on appreciating the uniqueness of this moment. Go through the motions that you normally would to capture this image, but as you do so, pause frequently to notice what you are experiencing.
One Minute of Mindfulness
You can introduce short ‘meditation minutes’ throughout your day. You will need a clock or timer for this exercise. Set the time for one minute. During this time, your task is to focus your entire attention on your breathing, and nothing else. You may practice with your eyes either open or closed. If you lose touch with breath and become lost in thought during this time, simply let go of the thought and gently bring attention back to the breath. Bring attention back as many times as you need too.
Mindful Listening – An Act of Love
When listening to another person we are often there in body, but not fully present. Very often, we are not focusing on listening to them; we are caught up in our own mind chatter. We judge what they are saying, mentally agreeing or disagreeing, or we think about what we want to say next.
Next time you’re with a loved one or co-worker, try using your time as an exercise in mindfulness. Don’t just hear their words; really listen to what they’re saying. Focus all of your attention on the other person. You’ll be amazed at the power of listening; it’s an act of love and kindness. People appreciate it deeply when you truly listen to them. You’ll also find that they’ll listen to you more fully when you speak.
Turn your ordinary household tasks into meditation sessions. For many of us, housework takes up quite a good portion of our lives. Instead of thinking of it as just a boring chore, the task can becomes a mindfulness ritual.
The next time you have to prepare dinner or do the laundry, focus all of your awareness on the task at hand, in the present moment. Aim to be fully engaged in what you are doing and not caught up in mind chatter or just rushing to the end of your task.
For instance, if doing the laundry, as you fold the clothes, don’t rush through it simply ‘getting it done’. Notice the feel and textures of the fabrics, or how fresh they smell. Pay attention to the patterns and colours and the way they are affected by the light of the room. Make folding into a sort of yoga practice and move with mindfulness, attentive to each fold.
In this way, every little act becomes a sacred ritual. It keeps you in tune with the moment, with yourself, your space and even the world around you—all functioning in harmony.
Eating With Awareness
Eating mindfully can help you reclaim the pleasure of food. So many of us have become out of touch with this, one of life’s most simple and wonderful pleasures. Mindful eating has been shown to aid weight loss and have aid healthy digestion.
When you sit for your meal, turn off all distractions and focus on your immediate experience. Before you begin to eat, pause. Look at your food; take notice of the scent.
When you eat take small bites and eat slowly. Be fully present in the moment with your experience.
Physically slowing down helps us to mentally slow down. Take some time out to eat a meal and really connect with your family. Walk barefoot on the grass, enjoying the sensation. Take time to connect with a customer or client. Do one thing at a time and be there, fully.
One thing at a time
For a couple of decades now, the catch phrase has been “multi-tasking.” Some people boast of their multi-tasking abilities on their resumes or at job interviews, others do it among friends and family as they talk about the things they try to get done in a day.
There is a myth that multitasking make us more productive; in reality, it drains us faster. Trying to spread our attention so thin and keep up with so many things makes us more prone to mistakes. We’re not more productive; we’re just busier, both mentally and physically, exhausting ourselves needlessly.
Try changing your focus to doing just one thing at a time. Take on each task with full awareness, one by one. When mindfully doing a task, you’re less prone to rushing, mistakes or forgetting details. You’ll find you can be more efficient with the task, and finish it without feeling worn out or tense.
When your ‘doing’ simply be there fully, with all of your attention, for each moment of it.
Watching the Mind
Through self-observation, mindfulness automatically streams into your life. The moment you realize you are not being mindful – you are mindful! You have stepped out of the continuous mental dialogue of the mind and are now the observer. You are now watching the mind instead of being swept of in its current. Anytime you watch thoughts, you are being mindful.
Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can, especially any repetitive thought patterns. As you listen, aim to do so an impartial witness. You’ll soon realize, “there is the voice, and here I am listening to it. I am not the mind.”
The key is this – Don’t believe your thoughts. Don’t take them all that seriously. Watch them, question them. In this way, thoughts and conditioned, reactive ways of living and thinking lose their hold over you. You no longer have to play them out.
Take some nothing time each day. Even if it’s just five minutes, sit for that five minutes and do… nothing.
Sit silently in a favourite chair or in a sunny spot outside. If possible without mobile phones, beepers or other distractions near you. Become still. Bring your full awareness into the present moment and to your sensory perceptions. All that exists for you is the here and now.
You may be amazed at how pleasurable and satisfying it is just to ‘be’ – How much taking five minutes from your day will give back to your life.
Walking can give you a chance to spend time being mindful without taking any extra time from your day. Whether you’re walking around your neighborhood, from the car to the store or through the hallways at work, you can turn it into a meditative exercise.
Before even rising out of your chair, turn your attention to your intent to walk mindfully. Rise and allow yourself to become aware of the sensation of standing. Put your attention on your body. Pause; take one conscious breath.
Begin to move your feet. If possible you can walk slowly and deliberately to aid you in your practice. Notice how the floor feels under your feet, how your clothes feel swishing around your body. Pay attention to the details in your surroundings—the architecture of the building, the plants you are passing, and the birds singing in the trees. Be present in your here in and now experience.
Aim to be there for every step.
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
Come to Your Senses
The essence of mindfulness is the ability to let go of the minds noisy compulsive chatter and to touch deeply the stillness that lies underneath. To be mindful is to be in a state are your highly alert and not ‘lost’ in thinking. To access the state you can use your senses. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing give your senses your fullest attention. You can turn any moment into a mindfulness practice by this method.
Whatever you sense, go into it fully. Explore the world with your senses. Visually observe details of your environment, such as the curve or a tree branch or the arch of a doorway, or the play of light in the room you are in. Be fully engrossed in the looking but without mental labeling of any kind. Look with ‘bare awareness’.
As you go about your day be mindful of the feel of sun on your skin or the wind in your hair when you leave the house. Be mindful of the softness of a chair, or the smoothness of a stone. Take a breath, and put your focus on what scents you’re taking in.
To be fully engaged in sense perception like this draws attention into the moment and out of all that mental noise. It brings a sense of fresh aliveness and wonder into our day.
Sometimes we have urges, cravings, impulses—addictions even.
These can actually be transformed into a wonderful ‘wake up call’ into mindfulness.
The next time you feel an urge, know that you don’t have to fight it; you don’t have to follow or give into it either. You can simply be there to observe it with mindful awareness.
This technique is sometimes referred to as urge surfing.
Urges ebb and flow, just like waves. With urge surfing, we bring awareness into the urge itself—how it feels in the body, in the moment. We simply acknowledge we are having an urge and we allow it to be there without getting caught up in the thoughts about it. In this way we ride it out instead of pushing the urge away or following it.
If a sensation of craving comes to you or you notice yourself having impulsive thoughts – see if you can firstly simply acknowledge their presence “oh I’m feeling a craving for chocolate”. Observe it directly, as an impartial witness.
Notice if the craving has a physical sensation in the body. Note if you are having ‘wanting’ thoughts. See them for what they are – just thoughts. Aim to remain ‘present’ for the duration of the wave which usually only lasts maximum of 30 minutes.
Each time you successfully surf an urge, you make it easier to do so next time. Urge surfing can, with practice, liberate you from addictive and compulsive behaviors while bringing the benefits of mindfulness into your life even more.
Mindfulness Body Scan Method
Join Dr Kabat-Zinn for a body scan session:
Dr. Kabat-Zinn is Professor of Medicine, Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School
A Simple Mind-Body Awareness Technique
Pay attention to your breath. The best technique to use any time you are not asleep. You don’t need to force your breath to change, just notice the flow of air in and out of your lungs. If you wish, you may take longer breaths, but it’s not necessary.
Pay attention to your thoughts. Don’t fight them or resist any thoughts, just watch them as they arise in your mind.
It’s helpful to think of your mind as the surface of a pond or lake. Thoughts create ripples on the surface. Harsh thoughts create large waves. You can’t prevent these disruptions – thoughts only create more ripples. The only thing you can do is watch the ripples die down. Effortlessness. Don’t think of this visualization while you are practicing mindfulness. It’s best not to introduce any new thoughts at all. If you want to meditate, meditate. If you want to be mindful, be mindful.
Mindful silence. This one is amazing – give yourself a full weekend off from talking. Don’t talk. That includes writing and typing too. Spend your time in nature, moving your body, doing other restful healthy activities.
Mindful sleeping (yoga nidra): This is really a meditation technique that’s also a mindfulness process, and it’s sooo easy to learn. Lie down for 20 minutes. Bring your attention to your body, starting with your right foot. Move from body section to body section by your right left (for example, right foot, ankle, calf, knee, thigh, hip, etc.) When you come to each section, breath in and out, once or twice. Move up your body until you reach your head, then focus on your whole body until the time is up. Relax that body part with each out-breathe.
This technique becomes a meditation when you guide your awareness along your body. By introducing this extra little effort, you are meditating or visualizing. Mindfulness is really relaxing these extra mental efforts and allowing whatever is to happen. As you can see, yoga nidra is a combination of the 2 techniques.
One of the most popular and rudimentary mindfulness techniques is(watching the breath). It’s explained beautifully in the book by Bhante Gunaratana.
But if you’re referring to mindfulness in a more general, non-meditation sense, you could try something called, which is the act of acknowledging and dismissing distracting thoughts about the past or futurethat deter you from your present meditation object. This can be done within meditation, or during your waking day, and it doesn’t require any Buddhism.
Here are instructions for Mindfulness Meditation, as a seated silent practice:
But it’s also essential to integrate mindfulness in your daily life. Your “formal sitting” will make your practice deeper; but bringing mindfulness into moments of your life will make your practice wider.
Both seated practice and “daily life practice” are essential; one is incomplete without the other. It’s like the two wings of a bird.
Here are moments of your day when you can stop, look inside, and take a deep breath:
- While commuting
- When you stop at the traffic light
- While waiting for an elevator
- Before unlocking your phone (when a notification beeps or call rings)
- Before opening up your email inbox
- Before starting a meal
- Before you open the door of your house
- When you start your car
- Next time someone asks you a question or says something that you bothers you
- When you hear the alarm clock in the morning
Try these. After a few days you will see that these “tiny moments” of mindfulness will make a real difference to the quality of your day, of your mind.
You can read more about meditation here:.
I’m sharing a piece from a blog post on mindfulness that I think you’ll find helpful. To read the full article on mindfulness techniques and how they can help you be more creative, less stressed, and happier, follow the link:
The ideal posture for exercises of mindfulness consists of a sitting position with a straight, but not stiff, spine. Therefore, most office chairs will suffice for mindful meditation.
Shoulders should be put slightly back, causing your back to straighten.
Next, upper arms should be parallel with your sides so that your hands can rest comfortably above your knees.
Your feet should be planted on the ground.
Your chin should be tilted slightly downward, but not enough to make your neck feel strained.
Eyes should be half open, but don’t be tempted to focus on one spot: just let your gaze fall naturally.
Part 1: Sitting meditation. Simply think about your breath. When you notice that your mind has wandered, do not judge, simply move your thoughts back to your breath.
Part 2: walking meditation. Find someplace to walk slowly. Focus only on the minute details of your leg and your foot. Foot picking up. Foot moving forward. Heal touching ground. Middle of foot touching ground. Toes touching ground. Repeat and continue.
Part 3: eat a raisin. Focus on every aspect of chewing, salivation, more chewing. Focus on the taste. What is your tongue doing? Swallow. Taste the aftertaste and after effects. Wait a bit. Repeat. Other thoughts? … do it.
Part 4: brush you teeth. Meditate on every minute aspect properly brushing your teeth.
I spent several days at Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village in Southwestern France in 2009 and found the Bell of Mindfulness (check it out here:) to immediately bring myself to a still and grounded awareness, of my breath and of my thought(s) in that moment. I suggest using a similar tool in your everyday if you feel you want more mindfulness in your life. You can strike the lip of a meditation bowl – or you can simply set a timer – to remind yourself to take a moment to breath in and breath out, to see, feel, sense in your mind’s eye where you are right now.
Begin by breathing normally and closing your eyes. You will begin breathing deeply, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Count the inhale (saying to yourself) “1”. Count the exhale (saying to yourself) “2”. The next inhale, “3”…the next exhale, “4”…and so on. Continue until you reach the final exhale, “10”.
If you lose count, begin again at 1. The goal is to make it through 10 breaths without losing count. Don’t worry if you lose count. The technique is designed to redirect your focus to the breath. When you are highly stressed this may take longer, losing count often.
I taught this to my son when he was 5 and he still does it every morning (he is 12 now). It is so simple and easy to remember. I do this in between clients and at the beginning of my morning meditations. I hope this helps for you as well.
This exercise is designed to make us appreciate our lives by slowing the pace down, coming into purer awareness and resting in the moment for a while.
Think of something that happens every day more than once, something you take for granted, like opening a door for example. At the very moment you touch the door knob to open the door, allow yourself to be completely mindful of where you are, how you feel and what you are doing. Similarly, the moment you open your computer to start work, take a moment to appreciate the hands that let you do this, and the brain that will help you use the computer.
The cues don’t have to be physical ones. It could be that every time you think something negative you take a mindful moment to release the negative thought, or it could be that every time you smell food you take a mindful moment to rest in the appreciation of having food to eat.
Choose a touch point that resonates with you today. Instead of going through the motions on auto-pilot, stop and stay in the moment for a while and rest in the awareness of this blessed daily activity.
This exercise is designed to open your ears to sound in a non-judgemental way. So much of what we see and hear on a daily basis is influenced by thoughts of past experiences. Mindful listening helps us leave the past where it is and come into a neutral, present awareness.
Select a new piece of music from your music collection, something you’ve never heard before but makes you wonder what it might sound like.
Close your eyes and use headphones if you can. Don’t think about the genre or the artist. Instead, allow yourself to get lost in the journey of sound for the duration of the song. Allow yourself to explore the intricacies of the music. Let your awareness climb inside the track and play among the sound waves.
The idea is to just listen and allow yourself to become fully entwined with what is being played/sung, without preconception or judgement of the genre, artist, lyrics, instrumentation or its origin.
If you don’t have any music to hand that you’ve never listened to before, turn on the radio and turn the dial until something catches your interest.
If you don’t have a radio then take a moment to simply listen to the sounds in your environment. Don’t try and determine the origin or type of sounds you hear, just listen and absorb the experience of their texture and resonance with your being. If you recognise the sound then label it with what you know it to be and move on, allowing your ears to catch new sounds.
Fully Experiencing a Regular Routine
The intention of this exercise is to cultivate contentedness in the moment, rather than finding yourself caught up in that familiar feeling of wanting something to end so that you can get on to doing something else. It might even make you enjoy some of those boring daily chores too!
Take a regular routine that you find yourself “just doing” without really noticing your actions.
For example, when cleaning your house, pay attention to every detail of the activity.
Rather than a routine job or chore, create an entirely new experience by noticing every aspect of your actions. Feel and become the motion of sweeping the floor, notice the muscles you use when scrubbing the dishes, observe the formation of dirt on the windows and see if you can create a more efficient way of removing it.
Don’t labour through thinking about the finish line, be aware of every step and enjoy your progress. Take the activity beyond a routine by merging with it physically and mentally.
A Game of Fives
In this mindfulness exercise, all you have to do is notice five things in your day that usually go unnoticed and unappreciated. These could be things you hear, smell, feel or see.
For example, might see the walls of your front room, hear the birds in the tree outside in the morning, feel your clothes on your skin as you walk to work, or smell the flowers in the park, but are you truly aware of these things and the connections they have with the world?
– Are you aware of how these things really benefit your life and the lives of others?
– Do you really know what these look and sound like?
– Have you ever noticed their finer, more intricate details?
– Have you thought about what life might be without these things?
– Have you thought about how amazing these things are?
Let your creative mind explore the wonder, impact and possibilities these usually unnoticed things have on your life. Allow yourself to fall awake into the world and fully experience the environment.
By becoming mindful of who we are, where we are, what we are doing and the purpose, if any at all, and how everything else in our environment interacts with our being, we cultivate a truer awareness of being.
This helps us learn to identify and reduce stress and anxiety and difficult, painful and perhaps frightening thoughts, feelings and sensations.
Mindfulness exercises help centre the mind and restore balance to our lives, tempering that “monkey mind” that persistently leaps from branch to branch. Rather than being led by thoughts and feelings, often influenced by past experiences and fears of future occurrences, we are able to live with full attention and purpose in the moment.
Imagine your breath is coming in and out of your heart. Use whatever self affirmation or mantra you find necessary on each inhalation and exhalation. Example: I am love. I am grateful. I am at peace. I have joy.
Yoga⋅Mindfulness⋅Shiatsu: Daily life events – sitting, standing, working, resting – are an excellent ground for practice of mindfulness – a conscious, gentle and non-judgmental presence in the moment. The tools along the path are your body, breath and mind.
Our bodies are a crossroad of different trajectories such as culture, race, gender, class, religion, etc. Most of the time we judge our body according to some outer criteria: how it performs at given tasks,
how it looks, how well it fulfills our expectations. We rarely stop and appreciate the body just the way it is.
Stand in front of a mirror and watch your reflection for a while. Listen carefully to the narrative unfolding in your mind while you’re doing this.
How do they FEEL in your body?
Then close your eyes and tune inwards, into the inner landscape of your body. Watch internally for some time. Feel your feet touching the ground, feel your legs holding you, feel the softness of your belly, the breath in your chest, your arms hanging freely, your head centered..
Listen to what is happening inside.
What’s different between these two perspectives on your body? Which one feels more true?
Being aware of the body from within, non-judgmentally, with kindness, moment to moment is one of the ways to practice mindfulness of the body.
You can do this anywhere, anytime!
To read more, you can go to: