How to Practice an Entire Day of Mindfulness
In this day and age, people work very hard. Maybe you need an entire mindful day to recharge. You’re working hard for your employers, your own business or perhaps at home, looking after your parents or children. Even looking after yourself requires time, energy and effort. Meditation offers some respite, a chance to stop doing, and to simply be.
Have you ever treated yourself to a whole day of non-doing? This doesn’t mean watching TV all day, or just sleeping all day – even when you sleep, your mind can be in overdrive, going from one dream to another. By non-doing, this means using the time to let go of excessively thinking about the past or worrying about the future – to softly reside in the here and now.
A day of mindfulness is a beautiful gift you can give to yourself. The idea is to spend a whole day in mindful awareness. Here are some instructions on practicing this exercise:
The evening before, place a reminder next to your bed and around the house that you’re going to spend the day mindfully.
Be clear in your mind that you’re going to keep the phone, computer, television and other electronics switched off. Drift off into sleep by feeling your breathing as you lie in bed.
When you wake up on your day of mindfulness, begin the day with some mindful breathing as you lie in bed.
Feel each in-breath and each out-breath mindfully. If you like, smile gently. Spend some time reflecting on what you’re grateful for – your home, your relationships, your income, your family, your body, your senses or whatever you feel you have that perhaps others don’t.
Slowly and mindfully step out of bed.
If you have a pleasant view from your window, spend some time looking outside. Enjoy looking at the trees, or grass, or the people walking purposefully to fulfill their needs. Look, if you can, without encouraging judgments and reactions. Your mind is bound to wander off into other thoughts and worries – just gently bring your attention back as soon as you realize.
Practice some formal mindfulness meditation.
You can do the body scan meditation for example.
Have a bath or shower.
Do this at a leisurely pace. Take your time, even if you feel like rushing for no apparent reason. Feel the sensations of the water on your body – in many places throughout the world people have to walk for hours to collect water so be grateful for the easy access you have to water.
Take your time making your breakfast and preparing tea.
Connect with your senses and keep bringing your attention into the here and now. Pause for a few moments before you start eating your breakfast. Ensure that you’ve tasted and fully chewed each mouthful before you start the next one. This is mindful eating.
You may choose to spend the mid-morning going for some walking meditation or doing some mindful yoga or perhaps a little gardening.
Whatever you choose to do, do it with a gentle, kindly awareness. Avoid spending more than a few minutes reading a book or a magazine. The idea is to connect with your senses rather than encouraging the mind to think too much.
Spend some time preparing and eating lunch.
Again, allow the process to unfold leisurely. You don’t need to rush. If feelings of boredom, restlessness or frustration arise, see if you can offer them the space to come to pass, to surface and diminish again. Eat your meal with gratitude and attention; chew each morsel unhurriedly.
Engage with a gentle physical activity after lunch, or perhaps have a siesta.
Connect your senses with another hobby of your choice. Every now and then, practice the breathing space meditation for a few minutes. Don’t be surprised if you begin to find the whole process challenging or emotional. You may not be used to giving yourself so much room to simply be present, and this can allow unprocessed thoughts and emotions to release themselves into your consciousness.
Continue to allow the day to unfold in this way, eating, resting, walking and practicing meditation.
If you can’t help cleaning out a cupboard, or organizing your paperwork, really take your time with the actions, doing things one step at a time.
Having prepared and eaten your evening meal, which is ideally the lightest of the meals you’ve had during the day, you can rest and relax before going to bed.
Lie in bed and ride on the waves of your own breathing, allowing yourself to doze naturally into a slumber.