Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation are distinct and overlapping experiences. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to our experience; it is a particular way of being engaged with our experience. Mindfulness meditation is a process that trains our brains to be more mindful and the aim of the meditation is for mindfulness to spill over the meditation hour into the rest of our lives.
For some of us, mindfulness comes naturally. We have seen this in studies that have surveyed people with mindfulness questionnaires. Some folks (and I am not one of them!) don’t tend to ruminate and are, by disposition, more engaged with the world around them. This is the case for many who have never practiced mindfulness meditation.
For most of us, however, we need to work at being mindful and therefore we meditate. The goal is not become expert meditators; the goal is to be more mindful and meditation will help to get us there.
It can be helpful to make a distinction between formal and informal mindfulness meditation practice. Formal practice is devoting time out of your day to do nothing other than mindfulness practice. This is done in a formal posture — sitting, walking, standing, or lying down — with or without guidance, and alone or in a group.
One major obstacle to a daily practice of mindfulness is finding the time to do formal sitting or walking practice. If this is the case for you, then informal practice is the ticket. There are many things we do throughout the day that can serve as informal practice. Whenever you give your full attention to whatever it is that you are doing, you are practicing informal mindfulness. So when taking a shower, be with the experience of taking a shower. The same for brushing your teeth, walking the dog, driving your car, walking to and from work, washing the dishes and so forth. Then the day becomes a minefield for mindfulness — you can’t get far without detonating awareness in the moment!
To facilitate formal practice I have created a series of eight guided meditation CDs. I used to sell these and now offer them for free listening or download as .mp3 files that you can put on your computer, iPod, or iPhone. The first four CDs are ready for download and you can access them on the Exquisite Mind website in the Learn section
Another important resource is eMindful
. Each morning at 8 AM eastern standard time, there is a live online guided meditation practice session. I lead the meditation on Friday mornings and at other days throughout the month. Like my guided meditations, eMindful offers these meditations free of charge. It’s a great resource and a wonderful way to start your day. Follow the instructions for the Morning Meditation in the upper right hand of my blog or follow this link
I invite you to join this unique online community where people can connect from around the world for the common purpose of practicing mindfulness together. Below is a recording of a recent session that I did on a very cold morning in Vermont.
Morning Meditation 10 December 2010 from Arnold Kozak on Vimeo.