3. Walking meditation.
Walking is a great way to bring ourselves back to the present moment. We can either make a meditation session out of it, or we can simply make a conscious effort to walk mindfully.
To practice walking meditation, we generally walk much slower than normal. By slowing down the body, the mind will follow. Then we pay close attention to ourselves as we walk. We can either focus our attention on each footstep (to develop concentration) or observe our entire body or our surroundings (to develop mindfulness).
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” – Amit Ray
4. Writing meditation.
This is not the typical writing meditation where you do free-flow writing of your thoughts. Instead, you take a script, such as the loving-kindness meditation, and you copy it by hand in a notebook over and over.
What this exercise does is imprint the affirmations into our subconscious mind. Then our behavior and attitudes become more in line with the ideals of the affirmations. These changes take place within just a few days, and without any conscious effort.
5. Mindful activities.
There are many activities that are so routine that we can do them without thinking. These are instances where we just let our minds wander, or we try multitasking. However, these are great opportunities to bring ourselves back to the present moment, and keep our mind from getting too agitated.
Choose any routine activity, such as washing dishes or folding clothes, and turn it into a meditation. All you have to do is slow down, and pay close attention to how you are performing the activity. Observe your actions more closely, and notice the sensations of the activity, such as sight, sound, smell, and touch. I think you’ll find that doing activities mindfully can significantly help calm your body and mind.
6. Mindful eating.
While mindful eating can be considered just another mindful activity, I like to discuss it separately because it can help us develop greater awareness of our body. Many of us eat our meals without being fully present. We’re either talking with others, on our cell phones or watching television.
The food that we eat has a tremendous impact on our body and mind. It also highlights our connection with the rest of the world. There are many other people and organizations involved in providing us with the food we depend on for our survival, such as the farmers, shippers, grocery stores, FDA, and more.
So I would suggest treating your meals as something a little more sacred. You can do this by slowing down, avoiding distractions, paying close attention to the sensations of eating (i.e. sight, smell, and taste), and take some time to give thanks to everyone involved in providing your food. A meal can be a truly enlightening experience.
One practice I learned while studying with Thich Nhat Hanh was reciting The Five Contemplations before our meals. This is much like saying grace but in a non-religious way. It helps us reflect on our food, so we can gain deeper insights as we eat more mindfully.
7. A day of mindfulness.
As with any beneficial activity, the more you practice, the more you’ll get out of it. Of course, there are some limitations like anything else that’s good for you. But with this practice, you can’t be too mindful.
If you’re serious about the mindfulness practice, you can take it to a whole new level. One way to do this is to have a day of mindfulness. What you do here is dedicate an entire day, or half a day, to practicing mindfulness. You can use any combination of the above practices, such as sitting meditation, walking meditation, writing meditation, and mindful activities. You basically want to slow down all your activities of that day and do them all mindfully.
Remember that our goal is to always live in the present moment, so a day of mindfulness would eventually become the norm, instead of the exception.
8. Mindfulness meditation retreat.
A mindfulness meditation retreat is probably the most powerful tool for developing mindfulness. It usually entails spending several days at a remote location where you can spend the whole time engaged in the practice. The retreat also consists of periods of silence, which allow your mind to settle down to a level that is difficult to achieve during our normal lives.
One of the great benefits of the mindfulness meditation retreat is that you get to experience a level of peace that most people never attain. You’ll see for yourself the true power of the mindfulness practice, and this will help you stay motivated and committed to it when you return home.
When we were children, we knew how to live in the present moment. It was natural for us. We didn’t have much of a past to regret, nor a future to worry about. Life was simple. As we grew older, we accumulated emotional baggage and began looking toward the future. Life became more complex.
As our lives became more complex, it became more difficult to live in the present moment, and we lost our sense of wonder and excitement in exploring the world we live in. The good news is that we can regain that by retraining ourselves to stay grounded in the present moment.
“Children have neither a past nor a future. Thus they enjoy the present, which seldom happens to us.” — Jean de La Bruyère
When we live in the present moment, we can see the whole world on a much deeper level. In fact, it can be even more exciting than when we were children. By applying our expanding awareness with the knowledge we’ve gained through our education and experiences, we can see things that we never saw before. Our understanding and wisdom will grow, and we’ll achieve the joyful contentment we’re searching for.
Happiness is what gives life meaning and without happiness, it would be just dull and dreary. The happier you are, the better your life will be. So, the moment you come across even a shred of it, grab it with both of your hands and never let it go. The feeling of peace and genuine happiness will always help you power through.