Welcome to Stage 1: The foundations
Week 2: Informal Practice
Informal practice is the term for ways to bring mindfulness to things that you do every day. That's the magic of mindfulness: you can practice it without having to find any extra time!
So as you empty the dishwasher it can be a mindful experience, or as you go for a run, or have your lunch or walk the dog. Everything that you do is an opportunity to practice and the more that you do this the more it will become part of your life.
Over the course of this membership I will be sharing lots of simple tips for informal practices. Today we begin with mindful walking which is explained below with lots of alternatives for you to try. I've recorded an audio that will bring you through a mindful walk and I've also recorded a new Mindfulness meditation for you to download and use if you wish.
Next week: The story of Mindfulness and the Golden Buddha
"Walk as if your feet are kissing the earth. Peace is every step" as Thich Nhat Hahn
In walking meditation you are not walking to get any where. It's not about reaching a destination, its not about getting anywhere or achieving anything, usually it's back and forth or around a loop - having no where to go makes it easier to be where you are. The challenge is - as with our formal practice, can you be with the breath, can you be with the body? Just as in our sitting practice distractions will arise, your mind will wander, again, when you notice you gently come back, time and time again. That's the training.
This is best done in an isolated location where you won't feel conscious of people looking at you. It could be in your home or your garden. It is very slow and being attentive to the rise and fall of the foot, being in the here and now, that's the focus.
You can bring your attention on the footfall as a whole or isolated segments of this movement, such as shifting, moving, placing, or on the whole body moving. You can couple a awareness of walking with an awareness of breathing, so that you inhale as you lift your foot and exhale as you move forwards. It doesn't matter how long you do this for, is the quality of your presence that matters. So it can be 5 minutes or 30 minutes long or longer if you wish.
Lift, move, place
Stop every so often and engage your senses. What do you see? or hear? If it's outside can you hear birds or other sounds of nature? Perhaps the weather is making itself known to you and you can fee the sun on your face or the rain or wind on your skin. Tune into your senses for a few moments and then focus back on the lift, movement and placement of your walking.
In the supermarket, as you are pushing your trolley go at a normal pace, don't rush. Observe the abundance of products on offer. Watch and listen to other people as well and hear the sounds of shopping. Mindfully (ie slowly) work your way through your list resisting any tempting distractions like checking your phone, texting etc.
You can also practice as you are walking with a friend or family member. Put phones away. Alternate between walking at your normal pace for about 10 minutes and then spend two minutes concentrating on a particular sense like what you see, feel, or hear. You can engage your companion in this exercise, pointing out what you are seeing and hearing for example. Kids especially love it as it ends up like a nature walk. Walk for 10 minutes, and notice for 2 minutes etc.
Around your home. As you move between rooms. This is best done barefoot as it's easier to tune into the senses being experienced by your feet. Again just slow down, breathe, notice, be.
Make up your own! Using a combo of the above.
Appreciate the fact that you can walk, which many people cannot. Notice how miraculous it is and perceive all the muscles that are engaged that allow you to move.