Tara Brach maintains that sustained mindfulness practice can lead to the development of natural awareness. Sustaining mindfulness practice has its own challenges with the constant demand on our time and the pace of life today. The never-ending time pressures continuously absorb our attention and intensify the pace of our life and leave little time for meditation or other mindfulness practices. The anomaly is that until we slow down in some small way, we are unable to see the opportunities to be mindful or to create space in our lives. Tara suggests that the way forward is to create regular reminders in our daily life that will serve as catalysts to help us to drop into brief mindfulness practices, whatever form we choose to use at the time.
Developing reminders to sustain mindfulness practice
In her book, The Little Book of Being (p.179), Tara provides suggestions for practical reminders that you can employ throughout the day to serve as prompts to engage in some form of mindfulness practice – even if meditation is not a practical option at the time. The potential reminders are limited only by your imagination – what suits one person will not fit with the lifestyle of another. Here are some suggestions:
- You could place paintings as prompts for mindfulness practice and build a strong association between the painting(s) and being mindful. I have a painting in my office by a Chinese artist, who was supported by MIFQ, which reminds me to “smell the roses” – to take time out to experience and appreciate nature.
- You could develop the habit of using waiting time as a reminder to default to awareness instead of defaulting to your phone. In this way, you will be filling-in-time by building a constructive habit that will enable you to better manage the stresses of daily life.
- Have verbal reminders such as quotes or charts on your wall to remind you of the need to have a mindful moment – e.g. to get in touch with your breathing. The words you choose are not the key element here, what is important is the meaning you attribute to them and how well they motivate you to stop and take a mindful moment.
- When walking to a meeting or from the car park to the shops, you can remind yourself that if you slow your walking down you can begin to slow down the pace of your life. Mindful walking brings lots of benefits. However, our walking pace tends to reflect the frenetic pace of our lives.
- Boiling the jug can serve as a reminder to take a few mindful breaths. This can happen regularly throughout the day and provide the frequency and repetition that supports the development of a positive habit.
- Leo Babauta suggests that you link drinking a glass of water to some form of self-care. He maintains that self-love is a sadly neglected area of our lives – we are so ready to be critical of, angry with, or disappointed in, ourselves. Leo offers a process for using the act of drinking water as a reminder to express self-love.
- If you are fortunate enough to observe the sunrise daily, you could use this opportunity as a prompt to be still, develop inner awareness and tap into your creativity.
Reminders strategically placed throughout our day can help us to grow in mindfulness and associated natural awareness. These can prompt us to take time out for a mindful moment and can also anchor us during the turbulence of the waves of daily life.
Image: Sunrise at Wynnum, Queensland 24 July 2019
By Ron Passfield – Copyright (Creative Commons license, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives)
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