8 Ways to Develop Mindfulness

Developing MindfulnessBringing mindfulness into the world can be challenging. We can, however, turn the world into a place of practice. Each moment we live is a chance to be mindful and present, never to be repeated again. Developing mindfulness is important to help us live presently in life. Here we look at a few personal and reader tips that have helped us view the Big Blue Room as a place of practice and mindfulness.

  • Take a breathe
    Remembering to breathe is hard work. Sometimes just seeing it in writing is enough to bring you back. Did you just take a very nice relaxing breath? I did. It also builds on itself, soon you’ll be remembering to breathe far more often.
  • Smile in public
    Not only will you feel better just for smiling, but when you engage someone, there’s a huge energy exchange and rush. When people smile back it often makes my day.
  • Spot your moods and how moods effect your life
    The same task done in two different moods will result in two different results. Take note of how your mood affects outcomes.
  • Feel your body, how it is?
    Notice how you position your body and it affects you. Try notice if you hold your body tense, or if it’s open and free.
  • Eat mindfully
    Thinking about what has died and the work involved to get food on your plate. Regardless of meat, grain, life has ended, work has been involved in bring you the food. Bring gratitude to a meal really helps you appreciate and taste your food.
  • Notice when entering a new space
    This is one of Gil Fronsdal’s favourite practices. Whenever walking through a door archway come back and recognise something is ending and something new is starting.
  • Try feeling any jewellery you wear as often as possible
    Anything objects you come in contact with is grounded in the present. Using jewellery is a great way to come back. My Mala gently brings me back many times a day
  • Let the phone ring a bit, breathe first
    The phone in this way becomes a gift, a chance to hear chimes and be mindful. It rings, you come back and breathe. The person who’s called gets a ‘fresh’ you, present and here.
  • When walking a familiar route, notice something new. (Thanks Evan)
  • Listen to all the surrounding sounds
    The tap of computer keys, the twirping of birds, the slight drone of a plane overhead, and the sound of my own steps walking. (Thanks Eric)
  • Notice the insects
    Be aware of the smallest ant, the quietest moth, the stillest caterpillar… to be mindful of these focuses all of your attention in the now.(Thanks Bruce)
  • Lay in the grass
    Don’t feel foolish about it, just feel the grass and the air and the sun on your skin. it always brings me right into the moment and gives me a sense of childlike wonder that lasts the rest of the day. (Thanks Priscilla)
  • Be kind, graceful and slower (Thanks Lobster)

Please add your own suggestions and examples in the comments. I’ll update the post with reader suggestions and back-links.


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32 Responses to “8 Ways to Develop Mindfulness”


  1. 1 chehaw

    This is a great article. It’s a reminder of how all those little moments in our day-to-day lives count for so much. Thanks

  2. 2 ReddyK - The Atma Jyoti Blog

    Hello, Wade.

    I think your first method is the most important of all. After all, Buddha’s method of Enlightenment was awareness of the breath carried to the extreme limit.

    What is important and most difficult in any awareness/meditation method is making it habitual. By studying the benefits to be gained, and the downside of remaining in a state of unawareness, there comes the incentive to make the effort to succeed in living in Consciousness.

  3. 3 Evan

    When walking a familiar route, notice something new.

  4. 4 A player in this play

    Some good suggestions here, but the grammar mistakes are hard to ignore. #1)Breath/breath mistakes.

    2.) You mean to use affects instead of effects.

    3.) Moods suggestion - what does the last sentence say?

    In all, the general messages are there, but I suggest you get someone to edit first.

    Lastly, remember - there is nothing to be done. Mindfullness, breaths, etc. not necessary. We are perfect as we are right now.

  5. 5 Wade

    Hi Player,

    Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to point out grammar mistakes. I’m still learning to write, and sometimes I’m still a little bit hasty when publishing. Being dyslexic, I often struggle with the wrong version, an added bonus.

    I wish I had an editor, unfortunately, I can’t afford one. It’d have been nice to get your real details in the post so we could talk more about this.

    RE:Lastly, you’re right there’s nothing to be done. That includes thoughts and ideas that think there’s nothing to be done. As long as you have thoughts and ideas, as long as you still desire, and cling, you’re doing something, which is more than the nothing to be done. Unfortunately, that’s where most of us live, most of the time, trapped in Mara, unable to do nothing.

    Thanks again for your comment, it’s a shame we can’t chat some more about this offline, but without real details we can’t communicate. Hope to hear from you soon.

    May all beings be happy.

    Gassho,

    Wade

  6. 6 ReddyK - The Atma Jyoti Blog

    In his comment, Player says, “Lastly, remember – there is nothing to be done. Mindfullness, breaths, etc. not necessary. We are perfect as we are right now.”

    Advaitic theory is one thing, actual experience is another. I have a feeling that if we were in Dachau, we would not settle for theory.

    On this subject, I recommend reading, “Two Views on Meditation–and a Third

    Oh, and Wade, regarding mistakes in your writing, “remember – there is nothing to be done.”
    :-)

  7. 7 Evan

    ReddyK,
    The link doesn’t work.

    This discussion (I’m not trying just to be clever) makes the point about the intersection of theory and practice.

    Would good meditation remove dyslexia? Is correct spelling a doing or not doing? Dachau (and the suffering of incest and domestic violent which are horrifically prevalent in our society) make the point in far more serious ways.

    Language (spelling), and suffering inflicted on people by others, make the point that our experience is social. My clumsy way of saying this is that we are social-individuals not individual-individuals. I think it is the nature of the ’self’ that is at issue here.

    The theory can become incredibly complicated at this point I think. Eg to make a judgement - eg that now is perfect - presumes a distance from what is and so the existence of the ’self’ in some sense.

    Thanks for this post Wade. I don’t want to get too esoteric. The practicality I guess is that we all find mindfulness helpful in our day to day lives.

    Another practice: comedy. I find a good laugh is freshening and can assist mindfulness.

  8. 8 Olivier - Mindfulness guy

    Noticing when entering and leaving spaces is indeed a good trick. I also found that I often loose awareness when going through a door. The mind takes us of at the slightest laps of mindfullness.

    @ player
    I don’t know what you mean by we are perfect as we are, but if that would be the case, would there be so much anger, war, famine etc in the world? The bhuddist view is that there would not.

  9. 9 Eric ROth

    Excellent tips - especially the entering and leaving rooms, houses, buildings.

    I try to listen to all the surrounding sounds. The tap of computer keys, the twirping of birds, the slight drone of a plane overhead, and the sound of my own steps walking.

    Alas, too often I forget to pay attention, the hours slip by, and I wonder where time has escaped to… again!

  10. 10 priscilla

    lay in the grass. don’t feel foolish about it, just feel the grass and the air and the sun on your skin. it always brings me right into the moment and gives me a sense of childlike wonder that lasts the rest of the day.

  11. 11 Bruce

    Notice the insects. Be aware of the smallest ant, the quietest moth, the stillest caterpillar… to be mindful of these focuses all of your attention in the now.

    Be present…

  12. 12 Wade

    @ReddyK, You’ve got it. The name of Advaitic theory escaped me. Theory is useless in this practice, as you know this practice is grounded in experience, letting go of ideas. Thanks for bring the name to this theory. Thanks for your pointing on writing mistakes, I laugh :) PS Link works for me, reading now, thank you!

    @Evan, works for me :) Good meditation doesn’t remove my dyslexia, it’s part of my makeup. It does allow me to ’see’ it with far greater clarity, allowing me to embrace it, and not be trapped by it too often. Many factors are involved, but a lot of the time I can work around it due to seeing it.

    Interesting approach to social-indi and indi-indi. I would say that we are both. If you focus on either one too much, the other suffers, the middle way is both and neither, where is that place? :) I find comedy can be a double edged sword, sometimes used to enlighten, sometimes repress.

    @Olivier, Thanks for your mindfulness comments, and your view on Player. Checking out your blog too

    @Eric, thanks for the compliments, and your tips too.

    @Priscilla, Thanks for your suggestion, putting up now. I smile just thinking about it, bring back that child-like nature

    @Bruce, Thank you also for your suggestion. When on retreat, I spend many hours in nature looking at those very fine details of life, and the beauty of their being. Both acting and not acting, doing and not doing. They contain many secrets to reflect upon.

    May all beings be happy.

    Gassho,

    Wade

  13. 13 Lobster

    Be kind, graceful and slower

  14. 14 Gregorio

    This is a very useful post especially as a daily reminder of all things Zen in everyday life.Slow down listen to your body,really listen.It will always tell you what it needs and also what it doesn’t need for good health.

  15. 15 Deb Call

    Wade, I love the simplicity and practicality of your suggestions. We often forget the obvious, things we did readily as young children. Some things are meant to be brought into adulthood, and that is our capacity as children to be fully present. Thanks for the reminder.

  16. 16 Wade

    @Lobster, thanks for the suggestion, always welcome

    @Gregorio, Thanks also for your comment. Another very important and simple to implement message, with amazing results.

    @Deb, thanks for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed this post.

    May all beings be happy.

    Gassho,

    Wade

  17. 17 Liara Covert

    Learning to slow down and actually sense the subtle nuances of our surroundings is a very meaningful thing to do. Rather than focus on what you’re not doing and maybe even making excuses, it is a whole new experience to choose to expand your senses wherever you are, whatever you do.

  18. 18 Jonathan from JonathanMead.com

    Thank you for this wonderful post. It’s easy to get caught up in day to day living and forget to be mindful. It would do well for us to print out this article and keep it somewhere we can easily refer to it.

    Another suggestion is writing “Breathe, you’re alive!” on a piece of paper and putting it somewhere near your bed, so you can see it before you sleep and when you wake up.

  19. 19 Wade

    @Liara, your right, we often make excuses instead of expanding and experiencing what and where we are. Thank you.

    @Jonathan, Thanks for your suggestion. At my old work place I had something almost identical to that printed out on my desk. The desks in the monasteries are always interesting to see too. Seeing WAKE UP!!! Written in a bold black pen on the bottom of monitor was a very interesting and powerful move from my perspective. Keep up the great work on your blog.

    May all beings be happy.

    Gassho,

    Wade

  20. 20 Marisa

    Beautiful.

  21. 21 Laurie

    Hi ~ I’m late reading this post, but liked it so much that I wanted to tell you so. I’ve never heard of feeling jewellery before or letting the phone ring so that you’re ‘fresh’ when you answer. Good advice which I’ll start doing today.

    One thing that I do is when I notice the smell of flowers (particularly lilac in the spring / early summer) I stop, just breathe in and focus on the smell. However much that sounds like a cliche, stopping to smell the flowers brings “me” right to where I am.

    Thanks for the post.

  22. 22 Liara Covert

    Mindfulness is a term that is sometimes exchanged with ‘heightening awareness.’ To take a moment before you act, and notice what you are doing, can enable you to change how you sense and feel the world around you.

  23. 23 Chris

    Wonderful article. It’s important to be fully present with the world and mindfulness is one of those things that takes practice.

    It helps to recognize when tension sneaks in because it usually implies that we are not present. We are either living in the past (thinking what we should have done, or what we regret), or living in the future (thinking about how we will handle an expected event, or what we are going to talk about with so and so).

    A technique I like to use along with the others suggested is to remember that the world is not just made of objects. Most of the world is made of space between objects. I like to look at the shape around the trees, or the space around the lamp, etc. With mindfulness we can learn to see more the world as it is rather than how we expect it to be.

    Chris
    http://www.stress-free-vibe.com

  24. 24 Andrew (standy from TT)

    Smile in public, this has similarities to showing a sign of respect to others.

  25. 25 Andrew (standy from TT)

    “8 Ways to Develp Mindfulness” looks so commercial.

  26. 26 Fipu

    Take time to listen to good music with your eyes closed.

  27. 27 sandeep bansal

    I WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE BOOKS.I WILL BE VERY GRATEFUL.

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