Contrary to what you may have heard, mindfulness isn’t all about meditation. Mindfulness is about waking up to what’s going on in your life in this moment, right now. It’s about presence – being here and not missing your life.
So if you want a taste of it right now, just stop.
This is a second or two of waking up to your life. This is where you are, now. Not in the next task or the next conversation. This is reality. And we can dramatically increase our enjoyment of everyday life by learning to direct our attention to it in this way.
Even if we enjoy it or appreciate it, it’s not easy for us to sustain it. Our minds crave novelty but at the same time quickly fall back into repeated patterns of thought. One of them is ‘ I can’t sit here doing this, I have things to do. ‘
That’s where meditation comes in. If we want to know and enjoy a sense of presence, we have to practise so that, just like learning to ride a bike or swim, our body and mind are able to do something they’re not used to doing.
Some people can take to this immediately without meditation. Some need to learn to be calm before they can appreciate the moment. Here are some resources to help you find your way.
Apps and online
This app for Apple and Android devices takes you through a well-structured suite of ten lessons in the basics of meditation. It’s friendly and accessible and the initial sequence Take Ten is free. If you want to get a taste without signing up for a class this is a good place to start. Headspace
The introductory level of this online course is free and, again, it’ll give you a taste of what’s involved. The full course costs £60. Be Mindful
The Free Mindfulness Project
… pulls together a lot of resources from across the web. The quality will vary but you could find some gems. The Free Mindfulness Project
Breathing meditation taster
A short taste of meditation here on this site. Breathing Meditation Taster
Learning in person
Here I’ll link to two teachers I know personally and can recommend.
Everyday Mindfulness Scotland
Jeannie MacKenzie is a skilled and experienced teacher of great integrity and warmth. I’ve learned from her and we share an outlook on most aspects of mindfulness teaching. She founded this social enterprise and is still on its advisory board. It offers courses mainly in the Glasgow area. Everyday Mindfulness Scotland
Suryacitta (Mindfulness CIC)
If you’re willing to dip your toes into the Buddhist worldview which gave birth to the modern mindfulness movement, Suryacitta Malcolm Smith is one of the most experienced teachers around, and has a very down-to-earth engaging and humorous style. He offers an online course and videos. Mindfulness CIC
Although Breathworks cover the whole range of mindfulness teaching, their specialism is in dealing with chronic pain and other health issues. They’re absolutely not trying to sell any miracle cures, but have a well-documented and research-backed programme for managing chronic pain and discomfort. Breathworks teachers have specific training in this and Elaine Bradley (SoundMind) is a Breathworks-accredited teacher in Edinburgh. Breathworks
I don’t know these people and organisations but they’ve all been recommended to me by people I do know.
(These are affiliate links to Amazon, which give me a small commission if you buy them, but these books are available everywhere – please shop around!)
Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
Happiness and How it Happens by Suryacitta Malcolm Smith
Mindfulness, 25th anniversary edition Ellen Langer’s classic text on mindfulness without meditation