Walking meditation is a great practice for those of us who experience pain or discomfort when doing sitting meditation. At full day retreats, it is common to interchange sitting and walking meditation so that one hour sitting meditation is followed by half an hour walking meditation. Walking meditation can increase our concentration and mindfulness especially when our mind is extremely distracted or agitated. In this video I give some simple instructions on my favorite walking meditation technique and I explain the benefits of practicing walking meditation in general.
When our minds are mindful and aware it can dramatically change the nature of our day and transform our relationship with ourselves, others and the world. Practicing mindfulness helps us reconnect and remove barriers that prevent us from enjoying each moment. Mindfulness brings us back to the present moment, to discover the joy that is already here; we were just too busy to notice it. Below are 10 mindfulness exercises that you can try to bring a touch of mindfulness to your day. These are sure-fire ways of developing mindfulness so you can quickly experience its great benefits.
As our lives get busier and more frantic, eating has become an activity that we usually do alongside other activities. Be it watching TV, working, answering emails, or thinking about what we need to do next; rarely do we eat our meals with mindfulness and enjoy the flavors of the food. It’s almost as though we don’t consider eating interesting enough that we need to create further excitement by reading the news, checking Twitter or texting. I’m sure we have all experienced getting to the end of the meal and wondering where it all went, or we wish we could have just one more bite to enjoy the flavor of the food.
Another aspect of mindless eating that we are usually guilty of, is looking forward to the next bite instead of savoring the mouthful that is already in our mouth. We’re thinking about how good the next spoonful will be, or worst still, we’re thinking about the delicious dessert we plan to eat after our delicious meal. And this is something we all experience. Our mind always seems to be looking forward to something better in the future, even if the future is just a spoonful of food away.
Eating without mindfulness is what most of us are doing on a daily basis. We ‘hoover’ in the food to satisfy the hunger pains so we can move onto life’s more important tasks. But the practice of mindfulness teaches us that there is nothing more precious than the present moment, so even eating becomes an activity that is worthy of our undivided attention.
This is an ancient technique that works wonders in our modern world. Not only does it help us to relax, but it brings clarity to our busy mind. The two breathing exercises shown in this video are what are commonly taught when people come to learn meditation as a tool for increasing mindfulness. Mindfulness is a hot topic at the moment and is being taught everywhere from schools to businesses, it’s no longer a practice exclusive to monasteries and temples. People are deriving the great benefits of mindfulness, specifically by practicing mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness meditation, more commonly known in Buddhism as Shamatha or Calm Abiding Meditation, is a technique practiced across all schools of Buddhism, though it is more favored in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Regardless of your religion or beliefs, this simple meditation technique focuses entirely on one’s breath and can therefore be practiced by everyone.
If we examine our days truthfully, most of us would agree that we tend to spend a lot of time operating on autopilot. We’re always making plans, thinking about the future, trying to complete our To-Do lists. We are so busy rushing towards the future and some perceived wonderful event that is more exciting than the present moment, that we don’t actually experience our lives. Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now says, “Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is Life itself, it is an insane way to live.”
How often do we drive somewhere, only to arrive at our destination and not even remember the drive? Or in great anticipation we eat our favorite meal only to realize at the end of it that we didn’t actually taste the flavors at all because we were lost in thoughts about something else? Our days are made up of many seemingly mundane events, e.g. driving, eating, cooking, washing the dishes, etc., yet these are what our days are made of, so surely there must be some way to bring some joy to these activities so we can arrive at happiness now.
Practicing mindfulness is the fastest way to live our lives more fully with happiness and wisdom. The actual practice of mindfulness involves moment to moment awareness of what is happening now, both internally and externally. Internally we become more aware of our body and our mind, while externally we begin to broaden our field of awareness so that we actually take in the external environment as well, leading to a sense of spaciousness, alertness and stillness.