Meditation is the formal practice of mindfulness, Mindfulness is the informal practice of meditation. We may meditate for relaxation, stress reduction etc but one of the main purposes should be to practice mindfulness.
When we sit still in silence and start becoming aware of our breathing, thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, sounds of whatever appears in our present moment experience we are practicing mindfulness. The formal setting that we give ourselves in meditation makes the practice a lot easier, it’s easier to be mindful under those conditions, it can get harder though in the hustle and bustle of life but like anything else it just takes practice.
Anyone that takes up exercise doesn’t expect to lift weights once and get bigger muscles, they don’t say ” well I tried lifting weights and I’m not any bigger so maybe I’m not good at it” everything takes time, meditation and mindfulness are a practice, a practice that never ends, Doctors practice medicine, they are always continuing to learn, we practice mindfulness, a process that never ends but becomes a lot easier over time.
So how do we practice mindfulness in day to day life? All we are trying to do is to bring our attention back to something happening in the present moment. We have five senses, all of our senses are trapped in the present moment, in fact all life is trapped in the present moment, it’s only our minds that have the ability to ” time travel” to the past or future.
Our minds have spent decades drifting off into thought stories of past and future, it gets absorbed in these stories and takes them for reality, the trick then when you catch yourself drifting off into thinking is to ask yourself ” what’s happening right now?, I’m regretting past events but where are they now? I’m stressing future events but where are those thoughts now?”. A thought can’t be taken and put on the table for everyone to see, thoughts aren’t reality, the have as much reality as a dream.
Like I said, whenever our attention wanders we must practice bringing our attention back to something happening now. What am I feeling right now? What am I seeing or hearing right now? We must get out of our minds and come to our senses. This is a constant practice, our default response when we are on auto pilot is to drift off into thinking, in time though with enough mindfulness practice of bringing attention back to something happening in the present moment, our default response on auto pilot will be to focus on reality, to focus on something happening ” Now” without any stories attached to it.
I’ll leave it at that for now, this blog will be full off more tips ideas and philosophies in the coming year, just remember though, mindfulness and meditation are daily practices that no one is 100% good at, they are life long practices, practices that slowly will bring in a sense of peace and calm into our lives gradually as we slowly get out of our heads more and more and back into our senses, back into reality. Thanks for reading.