Ten Simple Mindfulness Exercises
There’s a limit to how successful we can be with our practice if mindfulness only occurs on the cushion once a day or once a week.
If we go for piano lessons once a week but never practice, it will take a long time to become proficient at the keyboard. Similarly with practices aimed at ending our dukkha, like mindfulness.
If you think of mindfulness as Right Habit, then obviously we need to practice more than just 2% of the time if we want mindfulness––if we want being peaceful––to become a habit and our way of life. That’s why we have to take our practice off the cushion, into our daily lives. We need to reinforce and support our formal practice of meditation with all sorts of Right Actions aimed at making us quieter and more peaceful.
Here are some exercises we can do to keep us aware of our less than equanimous mind-states and remind us to keep in a state of mindfulness:
1. Cover up caller ID [We answer the phone because someone is calling, when answering the phone is appropriate, not because of a story about the person on the other end. No more running dripping wet from the shower across 3 rooms to grab the cell phone, only to look at caller ID and to decide it’s someone we don’t want to talk to!]
2. Do only one big thing at a time. [Be present with the chores. Brush your teeth when you brush your teeth; drive the car––yes, no radio––when you drive the car; eat when you eat.]
3. Never speak about anyone who isn’t in the room. [Gossip and small talks are always harmful; they never occur in the present.]
4. Stop thinking about outcomes. [Abide in present conditions, doing the best you can in each moment, and don’t worry about outcomes; outcomes will soon enough be the present moment, and then we will deal with them.]
5. No more fabricating stories about what’s happening. [Stories are the deluded ideas and concepts, labels, views, and unproductive habits that guide our lives and keep us from being in the present.]
6. Assume that other person is always right; let go of your opinions and experience what is being said, what is happening. [Our opinions are just stories behind which we hide from the present.]
7. Have no expectations. [Be in the present with whatever arises; no expectations.]
8. Forget the idea that things should be fair or just. [More stories: just be in the present moment and feel the peace and joy of being here. instead of judging and wanting.]
9. Stop saying these four words: "I" "me" "my" "mine" for one full day. This is very hard. [This shows how peaceful things become when you lessen your attachment to your idea of your Self.]
10. Wear a mala. Let it be a constant reminder to be mindful. Whenever reasonable, roll the beads between your fingers to match your breath mindfully.
Mindfulness is the cornerstone of our practice. The more we embrace mindfulness as an everyday, every moment practice, the more we will progress in our spiritual goal to peace and tranquility.