There are many practices for cultivating mindfulness, and it may take a while to find which work best for you.
September 6, 2017
By Glen R. Horst, MDiv, DMin, BA
Spiritual Care Advisor, Canadian Virtual Hospice
Mindfulness is a practice that helps you connect with what you are experiencing in the present. Research has shown that mindfulness can positively affect your sense of well-being, even in the midst of illness. By focusing on your breath, you can find balance in the midst of distractions, demands and suffering. Mindfulness can help you live fully in the moment without getting stuck in it.
When you are mindful, you notice the ongoing stream of your sensations, thoughts and emotions. You notice what you push away, what you hold on to, and what you desire. You notice the choices you are making, and you are no longer on automatic pilot. Noticing can help you wake up to what you are experiencing.
Practicing mindfulness starts with an intention to make each moment matter. The next step is a commitment to set aside time for mindfulness meditations and exercises. Embracing attitudes and practices for cultivating mindfulness will enhance your development and experience of mindfulness.
Seven attitudes for cultivating mindfulness
In his groundbreaking books, Jon Kabat-Zinn describes seven attitudes that are important for cultivating mindfulness:
Non-judging – letting each moment be just what it is without labelling it as “good” or “bad”
Patience – letting your life unfold in its own time and way
Beginner’s mind – seeing everything as if for the first time
Trust – feeling confident about your ability to learn from observing your experience
Non-striving – backing off from striving for results
Acceptance – seeing things as they actually are in the present, moment by moment
Letting go – putting aside the tendency to cling to some experiences and reject others
There are many practices for cultivating mindfulness, and it may take a while to find which work best for you. The ones you choose will affect the amount of time you need each day for them. Generally you may wish to spend 15 to 45 minutes a day on the practices that suit you. Regular practice will gradually begin to affect how you experience life. You may begin to notice moments of “centredness” or inner spaciousness. These are not things to strive for, but they may occur as you practice.
After you have completed whatever mindful practice that you choose, end by coming back to your own body and breath. Enjoy the sense of connection you have with yourself and others.
(For more information on this topic, please visit: www.virtualhospice.ca)