Many Types of Mindfulness Practices
The benefits gained from having a Mindful lifestyle with practices are numerous. These practices can be split up into 3 main groups.
Present Moment Awareness Practices
As one begins their learning, one starts with Meditation exercises. We start here because it allows us to practice with a minimum of distracting external stimuli. Ultimately we will bring Mindfulness into our everyday life – moment by moment. The most basic meditation practice is a breath meditation.
In this practice, one starts following their breath as the intended object of focus. During this practice one’s mind will inevitably wander off the breath and this practice is all about noticing when it does and then gently guiding it back; refocusing on their breath and starting over. The goal is not to never have a wandering mind but rather to notice when our mind wanders. With this practice one learns to improve one’s focus, being present, non-judgemental (it’s OK that one wandered), starting over (it’s OK to start again and try again) and patience. Meditation is not about “zoning out” or “calming the mind”.
Self Awareness Practices
As one extends their practice they can practice other types of meditations; each giving the practitioner more insights into the mind and body and the connection therein. A body sensation or body scan meditation allows us to increase body awareness; where do we hold tension in our bodies for example.
An emotions meditation allows us to be aware of the emotions that we experience throughout the day. When combined with a body awareness meditation we can start to notice the link between emotions and body sensations; it’s our emotions that cause our bodies to react with sensations.
A thoughts/images meditation allows the practitioner to become aware of the thoughts/images that are generated by our minds as well as experiencing and noticing the link between thoughts (the ones we believe to be true) and the emotions generated which in turn trigger our body sensations. At this point we start to really see and experience and learn from the connection between our minds and bodies.
As one continues to practice one starts to be aware of the stories (thoughts/beliefs) that are generated moment by moment in our minds. It is these stories that influence our actions. We get inspired to act when we believe the generated stories in our minds that tell us we are skilled. We procrastinate when we believe the generated stories in our minds that are telling us we are failures. Our stories/beliefs that our minds create drive our success or failure. One’s stories/beliefs always trigger one’s actions.
If anyone wishes to go in a different direction, or change course, or become better, or become more efficient, or become more financially secure, or become happier, or become more productive etc. everyone must be aware of the stories within oneself. It is through Mindfulness and a Mindfulness lifestyle that individuals will achieve great things.
Love and Kindness Practices
Finally there are a series of practices that helps us learn the skills to become more loving and kind not only to ourselves but to others. Being compassionate to ourselves for example allows us to become more resilient and bounce back from challenges and disappointments in life.
Seeing ourselves and others as having the same human condition opens up our capacity to be more empathetic to the people around us.
Regardless of the type of practice you choose to do, they all help us increase our life skills.