The following are some examples of activities we can choose to perform with mindful awareness. These informal practices can endure for a number of minutes, or for more extended periods of time. The aim, wherever possible, is to just do one thing at a time, and to pay full attention to whatever you are doing. In a similar way to formal meditation practice, when you notice that your mind has wandered, or if you have drifted into multi-tasking, you can gentle bring the attention back to the activity, over and over again until you have finished. See if any of the examples would fit into your own life, or come up with some examples of your own.
Note: If you are feeling chronic or overwhelming stress, it may be helpful to have guidance from a teacher. Join us for our next Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course starting in March to learn more formal and informal practices. More information.
- Chopping vegetables for a meal
- Eating a meal
- Preparing and drinking a cup of tea or coffee
- Taking a shower or bath
- Brushing your teeth
- Brushing your hair
- Doing the washing up
- Cleaning the kitchen floor
- Taking an early morning walk
- Driving the car
- Walking up or down stairs
- Listening to music
- Having a conversation
- Greeting your family when you come home
For example, when you’re in the shower, notice the sounds of the water as it sprays out of the nozzle, as it hits your body, and as it gurgles down the drain. Notice the temperature of the water, and the feel of it in your hair, and on your shoulders, and running down your legs. Notice the smell of the soap and shampoo, and the feel of them against your skin. Notice the sight of the water droplets on the walls or shower curtain, the water dripping down your body and the steam rising upward. Notice the movements of your arms as you wash or scrub or shampoo.
When thoughts arise, acknowledge them, and let them come and go like passing cars. Again and again, you’ll get caught up in your thoughts. As soon as you realize this has happened, gently acknowledge it, note what the thought was that distracted you, and bring your attention back to the shower.
Adapted from: Mindfulness Scotland, Mindfulness Approaches 8 Week Programme Course Handbook by Charlotte Procter and Alistair Wilson, July 2008