Do I Have To Meditate One Hour A Day In Order To Be Mindful?

So you have realized you are a little bit curious about this mindfulness thing. You would love to be a little more aware in your life – especially if that awareness will make things easier in any way, or help you to feel better as you deal with life’s challenges.

You’ve heard about people who meditate every day for an hour or more, or who go off on meditation retreats for days or weeks at a time. You think “Of course they can have more peace in their lives – anyone who can get away from work, or the kids or their family life, or all of the other relentless pressures that exist, he or she automatically has more time to reflect, meditate, be free. But mindfulness is just for those lucky people – I can’t possibly do that. It’s not for me”…

Here’s to tell you that mindfulness is not reserved only for those who have the luxury of time, money, opportunity to get away. It is available to everyone, every day, in all aspects of daily life.

Mindfulness – the practice and the concept of it – is the single most helpful tool I have found as a therapist for over 25 years to truly impact my personal and professional well-being – and that of my clients. I have found ways to bring it into my life on a daily basis, throughout my day, no matter what I’m doing (laundry or listening deeply to clients), even if I don’t have the time to formally meditate. It does not take me an hour a day, nor do I need only perfect conditions to practice mindfulness and feel the deeper benefits that come from being present and focusing my attention.

I read recently in Mindful Magazine something that sums up the biggest impact that I experience about mindfulness: “Mindfulness offers great opportunities to savor simplicity and awe, because it asks you to pay attention to the simplest things in life – it lets you ever so briefly still that voice that says something is fundamentally wrong with you.” This is profoundly freeing, every time I experience this, and it’s in the simplest aspects of every day life that I find moments to practice mindfulness.

You might start to practice mindfulness when you next take a shower and invite yourself to pay attention to every little thing about showering as if it were a new experience you’ve never done before. Notice when you take off your clothes, how your body feels as you wait for the water to get to the desired temperature; how you adjust the shower head; stepping into the shower; what your body first experiences when the water hits you; what order you wash your body in; what the shampoo or soap smells like; what the washcloth or loofah feels like in your hand, on your body, on each particular part of your body; whether you close your eyes; the many drops of water that hit your body, splash off of you, run down the walls of the shower; what the tile design is in the shower; the sounds the splashing running water makes; how your feet feel in pooling water or suds; the temperature of the water; when you notice you are done; and reach to turn off the shower; what it feels like to be fully wet before you move to drying; the feel or texture of the towel as it absorbs droplets of moisture from your body; the touch of your skin; heat, cold, wet, dry, slipperiness, roughness, smoothness, noises, steam, tangles, light, dark, sensuality, etc.

If while you are taking a mindful shower, you notice that your mind has wandered (which it will) and you’re not paying total attention to the shower itself, just gently bring your mind back to the present moment, and realize that in doing so, you have just been mindful. No need to punish yourself or tell yourself you can’t do it right. Simply notice what this experience is like for you, and praise your own efforts to come back.

Now, this practice won’t relieve the difficulties waiting for you as you have to get the kids out the door or get yourself to work, but the practice of paying attention in the moment to what’s right in front of you will help you to see the richness of life that you might often miss, and it will help you to feel you’ve spent a little quality time with yourself and gotten to know something about yourself and listened in with kindness. This will over time be helpful to you in terms of soothing you, and building your ability to shift your focus. 

For more information on my upcoming course to bring more mindfulness into your life please check out the OASIS program here.

For a FREE E-course that brings more calm and less worry into your busy life with mindful practices click here.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
[email protected]

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