Three Steps to a more Mindful You ( Dee’s blog – for more see
Mindfulness – with its roots in buddhism, its track record in stress reduction through
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Programmes, and its increasing role in
business through Mindful Leadership modules in MBA programmes, appears here to stay.
We can say it works, not only because of the work of neuroscientists who show us how it
works through evidence based research, but also because in our fast paced world there is
an increasing hunger for the quiet moment.
Mindfulness is ‘the awareness that emerges through paying attention, on purpose, in
the present moment with compassion, and open hearted curiosity ‘. (Jon Kabat Zinn).
Mindfulness meditation is a beautiful, simple way to reconnect with out inner ‘joie de vivre’,
and so to prevent normal feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness from dragging us into
deeper periods of unhappiness, sadness and and exhaustion. But here is what I have
discovered as a Mindfulness Coach and Retreat Facilitator !.Mindfulness is simple but
remembering to do it trips us up most of the time. So here is my gift to you today. Three
simple ways to begin your journey into Mindfulness . My invitation, and my challenge is to try
these three mindfulness practices during your daily routine for three weeks and let me know
how you get on.
1.Take One Minute Of Mindfulness
At various times throughout the day take one minute and breathe! During this time, your task
is to focus your entire attention on your breathing, and nothing else. Your mind will wander.
A common mistake is to think this is wrong or an interruption to your lovely peaceful
moment. Not at all , your mind is just doing what it does and your mindful moment is only to
help you to begin to become alert to that. Gently acknowledge the thought, and gently come
back to the breath. Do this gently, and kindly as many times as necessary ..yes even in one
2. Mindful Listening – An Act of Love
Often when we are listening to another person we are often there in body, but not fully
present. Sometimes rather than focusing on them we are caught up in our own mind chatter
or are busy judging what they are saying, mentally agreeing or disagreeing, or we are busy
planning what we want to say next.
Next time you’re with a loved one or co-worker, try using your time as an exercise in
mindfulness. Don’t just hear their words; really listen to what they’re saying. Focus all of your
attention on the speaker. This type of attentive listening an act of love and kindness. People
appreciate it deeply when you truly listen to them.
3. Preparing Food Mindfully
For many of us preparing food for ourselves and loved ones is a daily activity. For the next
three weeks instead of thinking of this as just a daily chore, I invite you to turn this daily task
into a mindfulness ritual.
When you are preparing dinner, focus all of your awareness on the task at hand, in the
present moment. Aim to be fully engaged in what you are doing and not caught up in mind
chatter or just rushing to the end of your task.
For instance, as you are peeling or chopping vegetables, don’t rush through it simply ‘getting
it done’. Notice the colours, textures, shapes, smells. feel and textures of the ingredients.
Make your food preparation into a kind of karma yoga and move with mindfulness, fully
attending to each small task, one by one . In this way, every little action will become a kind
of sacred ritual, keeping you in the moment, in tune with yourself, your loved ones, and all
Three achievable small steps into Mindfulness – my gift and my challenge to you.
13 Things Mindful People Do Differently Every Day
( Taken from Carolyn Gregoire in the Huffington Post, April 20th
1) They turn daily tasks into mindful moments.
Mindfulness isn't just something you practice during a 10-minute morning meditation
session. It can be incorporated throughout your everyday life by simply paying a little more
attention to your daily activities as you're performing them.
As the meditation app Headspace puts it:
"Mindfulness starts to get really interesting when we can start to integrate it into
everyday life. Remember, mindfulness means to be present, in the moment. And if
you can do it sitting on a chair, then why not while out shopping, drinking a cup of
tea, eating your food, holding the baby, working at the computer or having a chat with
a friend? All of these are opportunities to apply mindfulness, to be aware."
2. They create
If you want to become more mindful but are struggling with a silent meditation practice, try
engaging in your favorite creative practice, whether it's baking, doodling, or singing in the
shower, and see how your thoughts quiet down as you get into a state of flow.
3. They pay attention to their breathing.
Our breath is a barometer for our overall physical and mental state -- and it's also the
foundation of mindfulness. As mindful people know, calming the breath is the key to calming
Meditation master Thich Nhat Hahn describes the most foundational and most effective
mindfulness practice, mindful breathing, in Shambhala Sun:
"So the object of your mindfulness is your breath, and you just focus your attention
on it. Breathing in, this is my in-breath. Breathing out, this is my out-breath. When
you do that, the mental discourse will stop. You don’t think anymore. You don’t have
to make an effort to stop your thinking; you bring your attention to your in-breath and
the mental discourse just stops. That is the miracle of the practice. You don’t think of
the past anymore. You don’t think of the future. You don’t think of your projects,
because you are focusing your attention, your mindfulness, on your breath."
Multitasking is the enemy of focus -- many of us spend our days in a state of divided
attention and near-constant multitasking, and it keeps us from truly living in the present.
Studies have found that when people are interrupted and dividing their attention, it takes
them 50 percent longer to accomplish a task, and they're 50 percent more likely to make
"Rather than divide our attention, it is far more effective to take frequent breaks
between intervals of sustained, one-pointed attention," Real Happiness at Work author
Sharon Salzberg writes in a Huffington Post blog. "Debunking the myth of multitasking,
we become much better at what we do and increase the chance of being able to
remember the details of work we have done in the past."
The mindful way, Salzberg suggests, is to focus on one task completely for a given period of
time, and then take a break before continuing or moving on to another task.
4. They know when NOT to check their phones.
Mindful people have a healthy relationship with their mobile devices -- they set (and keep)
specific parameters for usage. This might mean making a point never to start or end the day
checking email (and maybe even keeping their smartphones in a separate room while
they're sleeping), or choosing to unplug on Saturdays or every time they go on vacation.
But most importantly, they stow their phones away while spending time with their loved
ones. One unfortunate byproduct of tech addition and too much screen time is that it keeps
us from truly connecting with others -- as HopeLab CEO Pat Christen described her
own aha moment, "I realized several years ago that I had stopped looking in my
children's eyes. And it was shocking to me."
Those who mindfully interact with others look up from their screens and into the eyes of
whomever they're interacting with, and in doing so, develop and maintain stronger
connections in all their relationships.
5) They seek out new experiences.
Openness to experience is a byproduct of living mindfully, as those who prioritize presence
and peace of mind tend to enjoy taking in and savoring moments of wonder and simple joy.
New experiences, in turn, can help us to become more mindful.
"[Adventure] can naturally teach us to be here now. Really, really here," adventurer
Renee Sharp writes in Mindful Magazine.
" - To awaken to our senses.
- To embrace both our pleasant and our difficult emotions.
- To step into the unknown.
- To find the balance between holding on and letting go.
- And learn how to smile even when the currents of fear are churning within."
6) They get outside.
Spending time in nature is one of the most powerful ways of giving yourself a mental reboot
and reinstating a sense of ease and wonder. Research has found that being outdoors
can relieve stress, while also improving energy levels, memory and attention.
“We need the tonic of wildness," Thoreau wrote in Walden. "At the same time that we
are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious
and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed
by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
7) They feel what they're feeling.
Mindfulness isn't about being happy all the time. It's about acceptance of the moment we're
in and feeling whatever we feel without trying to resist or control it.
Excessive preoccupation with happiness can actually be counterproductive, leading to an
unhealthy attitude towards negative emotions and experiences. Mindful people don't try to
avoid negative emotions or always look on the bright side -- rather, accepting both positive
and negative emotions and letting different feelings coexist is a key component of remaining
even-keeled and coping with life's challenges in a mindful way.
Meditation, the quintessential mindfulness practice, has been shown to be a highly effective
intervention for managing emotional challenges including anxiety, depression and stress. A
2013 study also found that people with mindful personalities enjoy greater emotional stability
and improved sleep quality.
As Mother Teresa put it, “Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all
we need, not more.”
8. They meditate.
You can be mindful without meditating, but all the research and experts tell us that
meditation is the most sure-fire way to become more mindful. A regular practice can help to
reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and boost well-being. Research has found that
mindfulness meditation can even alter gene expression, lowering the body's inflammatory
Aside from the wealth of research on the physical and mental health benefits of meditation.
the testimonies of countless meditators attests to the fact that a consistent practice can help
you stay awake and present to your own life.
“It’s almost like a reboot for your brain and your soul,”Padmasree Warrier, CTO of
Cisco, told the New York Times in 2012 of making time to meditate and to unplug. “It makes
me so much calmer when I’m responding to e-mails later.”
9) They're conscious of what they put in their bodies -- and their minds.
So often, we shovel food into our mouths without paying any attention to what we're eating
and whether we feel full. Mindful people make a practice of listening to their bodies -- and
they consciously nourish themselves with healthy foods, prepared and eaten with care.
But mindful eating is all about taking your time, paying attention to the tastes and
sensations, focus fully on the act of eating and eating-related decisions.
Mindful people also pay attention to their media diets, are equally careful not to feed their
minds with "junk food" like excess television, social media, mindless gaming and other
psychological empty calories. Too much time on the Internet has been linked with fewer
hours of sleep per night and an increased risk of depression.
10) They remember not to take themselves so seriously.
As Arianna Huffington writes in Thrive, "Angels fly because they take themselves lightly."
A critical factor in cultivating a mindful personality is refusing to get wrapped up and carried
away by the constant tug of the emotions. If you can remember to laugh and keep an even
keep through the ups and downs, then you've come a long way already in mastering the art
Much of our distraction is internal -- we ruminate, worry and dwell on our problems. But
those who are able to maintain a sense of humor about their own troubles are able to better
cope with them. Research from the University of California Berkeley and University of Zurich
found that the ability to laugh at oneself is associated with elevated mood, cheerful
personality, and a sense of humor.
Laughing also brings us into the present moment in a mindful way. Joyful laughter and
meditation even look similar in the brain, according to a new study from Loma Linda
11. They let their minds wander.
While mindfulness is all about focusing on the present moment, mind-wandering also serves
an important psychological function, and conscientious people are able to find the happy
medium between these two ways of thinking. It’s smart to question whether we should
always be living in the moment. The latest research on imagination and creativity shows that
if we're always in the moment, we're going to miss out on important connections between
our own inner mind-wandering thoughts and the outside world. Engaging in imaginative
thinking and fantasizing may even make us more mindful. Research has found that those
whose daydreams are most positive and most specific also score high in mindfulness.
Some other activities to bring Mindfulness into everyday life
Choose one activity each day that you often do in automatic pilot. Activities such as
brushing your teeth, eating a meal, attending lectures, showering, preparing for bed, walking
in the park are suitable. It is probably best to stick with one activity for a week or longer
rather than changing the activity regularly.
When the time comes for that activity, do it in a fully mindful frame of mind. Pay
attention to the activity itself, what is happening right now. With teeth brushing you might feel
the touch of the brush on each tooth and the gum, note the noise it is making become aware
of the taste of the toothpaste. Just like in the breath awareness, if you find yourself thinking
of other things then note it for a second or two and return to the sensations associated with
brushing the teeth.
If the activity is likely to be longer than a few minutes such as eating a meal or walking in the
park then practice the first two minutes mindfully. Pay attention to what you see, the
sounds you hear, the feeling of your clothes as you walk. What can you smell.
As a general aim, stick to the sensations present at the time, touch, sight, sound, taste,
smell. You may also note what emotions and bodily feelings you have such as breathing
faster or muscle tension.At the end of the exercise continue the next activity mindfully for as
long as that mindfulness lasts.
Awareness of breathing. Sit still. Notice that you are breathing in and out. Notice the in-
breath and the out-breath. If you are breathing through your nose, notice the air is colder
when entering your nose than when leaving. When thoughts come into your mind just let
them float on by. Do not get involved with them. If you like you can just label your thoughts:
when you get a thought, just say to yourself "thinking". Then simply go back to noticing your
breathing in and out. Become aware of the sounds in the room and outside of the room –
just noticing, not judging!.
Awareness of walking. Walk along slowly. Notice the feeling of the ground against your
feet. Notice your breathing as you walk. Walk in a straight line or a circle or up and down in
some place where you will not be interrupted. Again, when thoughts come into your mind
just let them float on by. Do not get involved with them. If you like you can just label your
thoughts: when you get a thought, just say to yourself "thought". When you drift into your
imagination bring your mind back to your walking. Do not look at your watch too often. Just
be aware that you are walking, of the feel of walking and of your breathing. Do this for 20
minutes once or twice a day. ‘Walk as though your feet are kissing the earth’ – Tich Nhat
Meditation On Loving Kindness
May I be filled with loving kindness
“I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.”
- Walt Whitman
This meditation uses words, images, and feelings to evoke a loving kindness and
friendliness toward oneself and others. With each recitation of the phrases, we are
expressing an intention, planting the seeds of loving wishes over and over in our heart.
With a loving heart as the background, all that we attempt, all that we encounter will open
and flow more easily. You can begin the practice of loving kindness by meditating for fifteen
or twenty minutes in a quiet place. Let yourself sit in a comfortable fashion. Let your body
rest and be relaxed. Let your heart be soft. Let go of any plans or preoccupations.
Begin with yourself. Breathe gently, and recite inwardly the following traditional phrases
directed toward our own well-being. You being with yourself because without loving yourself
it is almost impossible to love others.
May I be well
May I be happy
May I be at peace
As you repeat these phrases, picture yourself as you are now, and hold that image in a heart
of loving kindness. Or perhaps you will find it easier to picture yourself as a young and
beloved child. Adjust the words and images in any way you wish. Create the exact phrases
that best open your heart of kindness. Repeat these phrases over and over again, letting the
feelings permeate your body and mind. Practice this meditation for a number of weeks, until
the sense of loving kindness for yourself grows.
Be aware that this meditation may at times feel mechanical or awkward. It can also bring up
feelings contrary to loving kindness, feelings of irritation and anger. If this happens, it is
especially important to be patient and kind toward yourself, allowing whatever arises to be
received in a spirit of friendliness and kind affection. When you feel you have established
some stronger sense of loving kindness for yourself, you can then expand your meditation to
include others. After focusing on yourself for five or ten minutes, choose a benefactor,
someone in your life who has loved and truly cared for you. Picture this person and carefully
recite the same phrases:
May I be well
May I be happy
May I be at peace.
Let the image and feelings you have for your benefactor support the meditation. Whether the
image or feelings are clear or not does not matter. In meditation they will be subject to
change. Simply continue to plant the seeds of loving wishes, repeating the phrases gently no
matter what arises.
Expressing gratitude to our benefactors is a natural form of love. In fact, some people find
loving kindness for themselves so hard, they begin their practice with a benefactor. This too
is fine. The rule in loving kindness practice is to follow the way that most easily opens your
When loving kindness for your benefactor has developed, you can gradually begin to include
other people in your meditation. Picturing each beloved person, recite inwardly the same
phrases, evoking a sense of loving kindness for each person in turn.
After this you can include others: Spend some time wishing well to a wider circle of friends.
Then gradually extend your meditation to picture and include community members,
neighbors, people everywhere, animals, all beings, the whole earth.
Finally, include the difficult people in your life, even your enemies, wishing that they too may
be filled with loving kindness and peace. This will take practice. But as your heart opens, first
to loved ones and friends, you will find that in the end you won’t want to close it anymore.
Loving kindness can be practiced anywhere. You can use this meditation in traffic jams, in
buses, and on airplanes. As you silently practice this meditation among people, you will
come to feel a wonderful connection with them – the power of loving kindness. It will calm
your mind and keep you connected to your heart.
A Mindfulness Eating Exercise
If you’ve heard about mindful eating but aren’t sure where or how to start, here are
instructions for a brief mindfulness eating exercise.
The following exercise is simple and will only take a few minutes.
Find a small piece of food, such as one raisin or nut, or a small cookie. You can use any
food that you like. Eating with mindfulness is not about deprivation or rules.
Begin by exploring this little piece of food, using as many of your senses as possible.
First, look at the food. Notice its texture. Notice its color.
Now, close your eyes, and explore the food with your sense of touch. What does this food
feel like? Is it hard or soft? Grainy or sticky? Moist or dry?
Notice that you’re not being asked to think, but just to notice different aspects of your
experience, using one sense at a time. This is what it means to eat mindfully.
Before you eat, explore this food with your sense of smell. What do you notice?
Now, begin eating. No matter how small the bite of food you have, take at least two bites to
Take your first bite. Please chew very slowly, noticing the actual sensory experience of
chewing and tasting. Remember, you don’t need to think about your food to experience it.
You might want to close your eyes for a moment to focus on the sensations of chewing and
tasting, before continuing.
Notice the texture of the food; the way it feels in your mouth.
Notice if the intensity of its flavor changes, moment to moment.
Take about 20 more seconds to very slowly finish this first bite of food, being aware of the
simple sensations of chewing and tasting.
It isn’t always necessary to eat slowly in order to eat with mindfulness. But it’s helpful at first
to slow down, in order to be as mindful as you can.
Now, please take your second and last bite.
As before, chew very slowly, while paying close attention to the actual sensory experience of
eating: the sensations and movements of chewing, the flavor of the food as it changes, and
the sensations of swallowing.
A Walking Meditation
1. Most mindfulness exercises start by having you sit in a chair and closing your eyes. For
this exercise, you need to get up and start moving. Go for a walk. It doesn't matter
where, and in some ways, it is better if you don't have a set destination, as mindfulness
is about the process as opposed to the outcome. So, just start walking.
2. As you are walking, pay attention to your breathing. Notice the sensations associated
with breathing in and out. Pay attention to what parts of your body move as you breath
in and out. Spend a few minutes focusing your attention on the full experience of
breathing. Immerse yourself completely in this experience. Imagine you are "riding the
waves" of your own breathing.
3. Now expand your awareness to the physical sensations in your body. Notice what it
feels like on the bottom of your feet with every step you take. Pay attention to the
contraction and relaxation of muscles in your legs as you walk. Bring an expansive
awareness to your body and the physical sensations that are associated with walking.
4. Bring your attention to your ears, noticing all the sounds that you hear around you as
you walk. It may be the crunching of leaves underneath your feet or birds singing in the
trees around you. Practice simply being open to all sounds where ever they arise. Do
not go searching for sounds or holding on to the experience of certain sounds. Instead,
just practice having an expansive awareness of all the sounds around you -- sounds
that are close, sounds that are far away, sounds that are soft, and sounds that are loud.
5. Practice connecting with the sounds. Notice if you are labeling the sounds that you
hear. If you are labeling the sounds you hear, recognize this and then recommit to
connecting with the experience of hearing and the quality of the sound.
6. Now pay attention to what you see around you. Notice all the images you see -- images
above, below, in front of, and to the side of you. Be aware of all the colors you see. As
with sounds, practice simply being open to the experience of seeing without labeling or
judging what you see.
7. Finally, bring awareness to what you feel. Notice the breeze against your skin. Notice
any perspiration against your skin.
8. Anytime that you notice that you are getting distracted by a thought (this is completely
normal), notice what took you away from the present moment and bring your attention
back to the experience of walking.
9. As you walk, gently shift your attention from one sensation to the next, taking in every
experience in your internal and external environment.
Bringing the Benefits of Mindfulness to Work
Developing mindfulness in everyday life takes effort. Many related practices (meditation,
yoga, some martial arts, time spent away from media and technology, time spent in the
natural world) will help to cultivate mindfulness. But the mind needs the focus and
consistency of a regular practice if it is to undo old neural patterns and learn new ones.
For many, the workplace is one of the most stressful places in their lives. Pressures are
constant. Differences, even non-conflictual ones, among people requires lots of neural
energy to manage. Most people in this culture work too many hours, often without any
breaks. Many workers operate in a low – level flight or fight mode. Out of touch with feelings
and the thinking patterns that reinforce stress and anxiety, many people constantly “re-
trigger” those negative habits throughout the day. Mindfulness practice offers the
possibilities of mental and emotional rest, despite the events that surface in the average
10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness in work
1. Make a commitment to practice. The first step is to become more aware of being
aware. Essentially mindfulness is the art of being an observer of your self – your
thoughts, feelings and your behaviors. As the definition above states – without
2. Start slowly – today I will become more aware of _________ and practice by
placing your attention on that.
3. Start each day with a few minutes of conscious awareness. Breathing is the key to
opening up your awareness. Instead of jumping right out of bed into your routine,
take a few minutes to notice how you feel and consciously set your intentions for the
4. If your tendency is to move at a very quick pace while getting your day started, focus
on slowing yourself down. Even if you have to get many things done in a short time
frame – you can control the racing to-do list in your mind. This will help regulate your
energy in a different way.
5. In the course of your work, practice really listening to others. This requires you to
shift your energy to the other person and take the focus off you and your mental to-
do list, even for a few minutes.
6. Consider ways to recognize other’s accomplishments, needs, difficulties and practice
small, simple acts of empathy and kindness that may lighten their load. They have
7. Pay close attention to your body language. The way we use our body has a powerful
effect on closing our attention down – or opening it up. We can’t stress enough the
value and importance of being aware of how you breathe.
8. Watch your language – the words you use cue your physiology. When you tell a
colleague that you are “slammed” in terms of work – you are signaling your brain that
it is having or about to have an unpleasant experience.
9. Take a few minutes to identify what you would like your outcome to be in certain
interactions – an important call, email or meeting. Most of us find ourselves in the
midst of interpersonal situations with no idea of what we really want. In other words –
know your intention.
10. Find some time, at the end of your workday or in the evening for self-reflection. It’s
challenging to do this without judgment. Discernment and judgment are very
different. Practice noticing without judging.
Some resources to support your journey into Mindfulness
1) Peace is Every Step – Tich Nhat Hanh
2) Arriving at your own door – Jon Kabat Zinn
3) The Mindful way through depression – Kabat- Zinn, Wiliams and Teasdale
4) Moments of Stillness – Sr Stan
5) Mindfulness – a practical guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, mark
Williams and Danny Penman
6) Mindfulness in Plain English – Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
* www.sanctuary.ie - The Sanctuary , Dublin, ( Sr Stan)
- good source for books and cd’s as well as courses and
< recommend cd’s
< – Finding Stillness, Meditations from the Sanctuary,
< - Compassion for Oneself, Oneself and Others
< - Breathing, Body Awareness
* www.plumvillage.org - the website for spiritual community and retreat centre in
France set up by the Vietnamese teacher Tich Nhat Hanh
* www.mindfulness.ie - Irish website with articles links and information about courses
Z"www.mindfulness-ireland.org - organisation dedicated to the teachings of Tich Nhat
Hanh, with information about courses in Ireland
Z"www.bemindful.co.uk - website dealing with all aspects of mindfulness
* www.oscailt.ie - holistic centre, Dublin – mindfulness meditation courses
* www.minfulnessmeditation.ie - good resource for courses for courses and
* www.soundstrue.com - a great website which sells many cd’s by Jon Kabat Zinn and
* www.youtube.com- type in Kabat Zinnor Tich Nhat Hanh to find a variety of
interviews and resources
try – Mindfulness for beginners and Guided Meditations, both by Jon Kabat – Zinn
- Ten Mindful Movements by Tich Nhat Hanh