How to be mindful

20 April 2017 by
First published: 15 January 2017

In this our third week of guided meditation with Ashley Hunt, we are practising how to be mindful.

In our fast-paced modern lives, we seem to spend most of our time preoccupied with the past or worried about the future. We need constant outward stimulation, always being distracted from the present moments by our phones and social media.

This causes us to live a life full of clouded moments, constantly looking for somewhere else to be, anywhere but right here where we are. Mostly, we don’t even know that we are living with this inner tension of avoiding the present moment. This mindlessness is walking around in a dream-like state without realising. This dream is created by your thoughts, which create their own reality, like your own personal fiction. Living like this can see days, months and even years go by unnoticed.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, is about waking up from these dreams, turning the fiction into non-fiction. More than anything else, it’s waking up and being aware of the present moment. It is discovering awareness, paying attention.

Waking up takes practice, and may not happen overnight, but there are simple ways to discover mindfulness. The best way to start is to try to appreciate even the most mundane tasks for what they are. An easy way to do this – and an effective grounding exercise – is to tell yourself what it is you are doing: ‘I am on the bus’, ‘I am waiting for my coffee’, ‘I am in a meeting’.

Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh explains it perfectly: ‘While washing the dishes, you might be thinking about the tea afterwards, so you try and get them out of the way as soon as possible in order to sit and drink tea. But that means you are incapable of living during the time you are washing the dishes. When you are washing the dishes, washing the dishes must be the most important thing in your life.’

Use this guided meditation to begin your journey to mindfulness.