Do you have trouble finding the time to meditate each day? Or do you have a regular practice, but you struggle to integrate mindfulness into your day?
Many of us think meditation is something we can only do while sitting down with our eyes closed. The reality is that we can turn almost any moment or situation into an opportunity for mindfulness practice.
The Unified Mindfulness system offers a flexible approach for exploring mindfulness in daily life by breaking it down into three forms of practice: formal practice, background practice, and micro hits.
In formal practice, you are fully committed to a meditation technique for at least ten minutes. So when you sit down on your cushion to meditate, we’d call this a formal practice. But you can engage in formal practice while doing anything that doesn’t involve too much of the thinking process, and this can be in stillness or in motion. So formal practice could include activities like walking, eating, and showering. Just keep in mind that if you’re practicing in motion and with your eyes open (like in the shower or on a walk), the challenge level is often higher which means you’re more likely to get distracted and lost in thought. There’s no problem with this at all, but it’s useful to recognize when going into motion practices.
With background practice, only part of your attention is on a meditation technique (i.e. focusing on the breath, body sensations, or some other meditation anchor), and the majority of your attention is on the activity at hand. It’s helpful to think of the 80/20 rule – 80% of your attention on the task at hand, 20% of your attention on meditation. You can use background practice while reading these words, by having some attention on the sensations of your body. You could also try this during meetings or while listening to someone in a conversation. This is probably the most subtle and nuanced of the three types of practice, but it really allows you to turn any activity into an opportunity for practice.
A “micro-hit” is a short burst of meditation practice where you have your full attention on any given meditation technique for a short amount of time (say, 2 minutes). One easy way to practice micro hits is to sandwich them around a meeting or phone call. So take two minutes before and after a call to briefly connect with your meditation practice.
If you want to try out these practices, take a look at your schedule and see where you can sprinkle each of them in throughout your day. Maybe you do a formal seated practice in the morning, then another formal practice while you’re working out, then background practice while checking emails, and then a couple microhits before and after a meeting!
To read more from Gigi Falk, click here.