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Informal Mindfulness Practices

It is possible to cultivate mindfulness through informal exercises: exercises that aim to enhance mindful awareness during everyday activities.

They require a single focus of attention and the ability to gently turn back to the object of attention. The object of attention can be anything, ranging from a conversation with a colleague to eating lunch.

There are virtually endless examples of informal practices, but I have summarized the most important ones and explained them briefly.

The goal of informal mindfulness practices is to cultivate mindfulness by making mindfulness a part of daily life.

A benefit of informal mindfulness practices is that it can be incorporated into any activity, from personal to professional.

For many people, the best way to start integrating mindfulness into their daily life is by taking small steps. For instance, you can apply mindfulness to one or two routine activities you do every day rather than all the activities described below.

Awareness of Routine Activities.

Routine activities are activities performed regularly, often, or daily. Most routine activities require little conscious attention because they are nearly automatic. Such as taking a shower, driving or walking to work, or eating lunch. The idea is to focus your attention fully on the activity, observing the body movements, the sight, the sensations.

When thoughts or other distractions emerge, notice them and bring your attention back to the task at hand.

For instance, when eating mindfully, eat slowly, and pay attention to the experience in the present moment, which includes physical movements, the taste, and smell of the food, among others. Rather than doing multiple things at the same time (such as reading while eating, talking on the phone while driving home, thinking about work while taking a shower), focus on one thing at a time.

For example, you can implement daily moments of mindful awareness by setting your alarm at random intervals to disrupt repetitive movements or become aware of one’s posture.

Awareness of Impulsive and Reactive Patterns.

Many daily patterns of thinking and behaviors are habitual (unconscious) reactions to experiences or events. Failing to perform well at work may immediately trigger negative, self-critical thoughts and judgments. The experience of sadness can result in a direct attempt to push away the unwanted feelings.

An unkind comment made by a co-worker may cause you to raise your voice and say things that you regret afterwards. In all these examples, the behavior is guided by automatic patterns. Mindfulness requires awareness of these patterns as they arise during the day.

While it may sometimes be difficult to become aware of these patterns before the onset of an impulsive reaction, becoming aware afterward can also be beneficial because it may enhance the detection of similar patterns in the future.

Awareness During Social Interactions.

Practicing mindfulness in a social context involves using the interaction with the other person(s) as a single point of focus. Instead of multi-tasking during a conversation with a colleague or thinking about what to say next, attention is directed at the current conversation.

In contrast to identifying with one’s assumptions and reacting impulsively, mindfulness requires an open, non-judgmental attitude during the conversation characterized by deep listening, perspective-taking, and allowing the other to respond. More importantly, mindfulness during social interaction can involve speaking with awareness.

Examples Include:

Pausing before speaking, monitoring one’s thoughts, and considering the effect of speaking them out loud. Most jobs require social interaction and regular communication with clients, colleagues, and supervisors. Practicing awareness during these social interactions is another exercise that can be easily implemented into your everyday work life.

What informal mindfulness activity are you going to incorporate into your life today?

Lots of Love to you Brilliant Soul!