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How to Practice Mindfulness

Everyday Mindfulness

Long ago, in what feels like another lifetime, I had a Tuesday night ritual…

After work, I walked up Manhattan’s west side until I reached a nondescript office building. Invariably, a group of people, of all ages and backgrounds, flooded the lobby, waiting to cram into the tiny elevator and ride to the sixth floor. As the doors opened, we slipped off our shoes, stowed our devices, and quietly nodded hello, before taking our places on a cushion for thirty minutes of silence.

Sometimes, it takes the absence of something to recognize its value. (Hello, past twelve months.) Where mindfulness practice used to be a big part of my life, like so many things during the pandemic, I’ve let it slip away just when I need it the most. I miss those moments of simply being present with what is.

So, this week, I spoke with meditation teacher Adreanna Limbach about how to gently incorporate mindfulness into our everyday lives.

First off, what is mindfulness?
At its most basic level, the definition I come back to is one from Jon Kabat-Zinn: “The awareness that arises when we’re paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment.” I love that it parses out the distinction between everyday paying attention and mindfulness practice, which is non-judgment.

How do we put this into practice?
First, it’s important to note there are four foundations of mindfulness:
– The body
– Emotions and feelings
– Mind and thoughts
– Phenomena, meaning the world around us

The shortcut into mindfulness, for me at least, is dropping into my senses. To do this, take a moment to close your eyes and move through becoming aware of each of these four foundations.

For anyone who is unfamiliar, can you walk me through how you do that?
[Ed note: At this point, Adreanna assumes a soothing voice that makes me feel instantly at peace.] Let the eyes gently shut. Take a few deep breaths, feeling the weight of your body against the surface beneath you. Notice all the places where the body makes contact with it. Notice the texture of your clothing. Feel the breath moving in and out. Notice the sounds in the room, the temperature of the air. Notice the emotional tone in your body — not just your mind, but any physical sensations you may have of how an emotion manifests. Notice any thoughts you might have. After a minute, just relocate yourself in space. Take a few more deep breaths, open the eyes, and come back.

In a practical sense, how is mindfulness helpful?
The most sincerely useful way I’ve found is when I find myself particularly charged with an emotion — namely a negative one, like stress, jealousy, anger, sadness — I’ll take just one minute to move through the checklist above. For me, personally, it has also helped with how I relate to control. My own tension and anxiety come from always trying to keep my fingers on the pulse of the 17 things I need to stay on top of. But being able to drop back into my body and be aware of the present moment, as it stands, can help me relax.

What would you say to someone who is intimidated by meditation? Or who maybe tried it but didn’t stick with it?
If you’ve tried meditation and feel like you’re bad at it, the fun and potentially radical thing about mindfulness practice is that there’s no such thing as doing it ‘bad’ or ‘wrong.’ Almost everything else in our lives we can measure or rate on a scale of good or bad, right or wrong. But the whole ethos of meditation is that there’s no good or bad. If you sit down and all you notice is that you spent five restless minutes unable to pay attention to your breath and your surroundings, that’s still great, because it means you were present enough to notice how internally busy you are.

In your book, you described how when we’re running on autopilot, we can miss the subtle moments of beauty all around us every day. How can we practice this in our current lives, where many of us are stuck in the same environments day in and day out?
When you become overly familiar with something, there’s an acclimated blindness that develops around it. So, take a moment to be still in a room that you’ve been in a gazillion times, that you probably use for multiple purposes — work, sleep, schooling — and pause. Look down at the floor for a minute, then look up, intentionally with fresh eyes, and notice what draws your eye. Notice the plant, the panel of light from the midday sun, the way the color of the pillowcase intersects with the color of the wall. Our responsibility is to get out of the way, so that we can catch beauty in the act.

Do you have any words to share for anyone who might be experiencing pandemic burnout?
The truth is, we change from day to day. Each day, we bring a whole new set of thoughts and feelings and physical sensations and moods to these same-old situations and same-old environments. Mindfulness helps us notice what’s different. As it turns out, the inverse of judgment is curiosity. Bringing a spirit of curiosity to this moment, even when it’s challenging, even when it can feel like we’re doing the exact same things in the exact same environment, invites us to say, ‘What’s new here, what’s fresh here?’

Mindfulness practice is one of inclusivity — when we meditate, we’re breathing with grief, with sadness, with anxiety, with overwhelm. When a feeling arises, we don’t have to cut it off or push it away. We invite these uncomfortable emotions to the table, and we practice being with them, without judgment. Best of all, mindfulness isn’t something extra, or something we need to acquire — it’s something we all have by virtue of being human. If we can create the conditions for mindfulness to arise, we all have access to it.


Thanks so much, Adreanna. Do you have a mindfulness practice? Have you ever tried to meditate? Do you have any thoughts or tips to share?

For anyone interested in learning more about mindfulness, I highly recommend Adreanna’s book, Tea and Cake with Demons, which I’ve turned to many times. It reads like a conversation with a loving friend, full of wisdom and support. And to experience her soothing voice for yourself, Adreanna’s website has lots of resources, including free guided meditations.

P.S. Six stretches for people who sit at desks and meditation for beginners.

(Photo by Christine Han/Stocksy.)

  1. Yes, it really does not hurt us all now to study the issue of mindfulness a little and start improving all together, this is a rather serious question after the onset of pandemic and we must understand that now everyone is having very difficult periods. It seems to me that the pandemic has touched everyone at least somewhere and we need to try to drain all our strength. mindfulness is really cool, it’s cool to be able to control yourself, to be able to concentrate on what is needed and to understand yourself better. that’s what mindfulness is to me

  2. Elle says...

    As a new mom my current practice is to turn all the exhausting night-time awakenings as an opportunity for mindfulness. I sniff that little baby head, take time to notice my tired ,aching body and feel the warmth from that little bundle, whilst I bounce, endlessly, on the exercise ball. It’s helping it feel like less of a chore, even when all I really want to do is get a nights sleep!

  3. Capucine says...

    THAT’S MY HOMETOWN! A town known for mindfulness and its ilk, at that – clever photo choice.

    This is delight. It feels positive. I am smiling, my chest feels warm, my stomach has unknotted. 😉😘

  4. Meghan says...

    Does anyone have good mindfulness recommendations for young children (5-7 age range)? Many thanks!

    • Alison says...

      There are several books I love that do a great job introducing mindfulness. They include:
      Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda and Moody Cow Meditates both by Kerry Lee MacLean
      Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel

      Also YouTube has some great guided meditations or kids.

    • LC says...

      I work with kids and have enjoyed the book Breathe Like A Bear, as well as any books by Gabi Garcia (Find Your Calm, I Can Do Hard Things, and Listening With My Heart come to mind). They have practices in the back. The I Am series by Susan Verde is great too.

      Keep in mind that for children, 5 minutes of meditation is a big ask. Mindfulness exercises like progressive muscle relaxation (love this at bedtime!), going through their senses (5 things they see/4 things they can feel/3 things they hear/2 things they smell/1 thing they taste), or doing a rainbow scavenger hunt on a nature walk (find something for each color of the rainbow, in order) can help kids be more mindful in different settings.

    • Angela says...

      Ohhh we just recently discovered Bedtime Explorers and Daytime Explorers. They’ve been a hit at bedtime with my soon to be 6 year old twins. 10 minutes of calm before reading, laying in bed together. My son doesn’t make it to the book most nights.

    • Kelly says...

      When I put my girls to bed, sometimes we do the senses game: Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. My girls are 3 and 5, and sometimes their answers are so funny!
      “I can taste my tongue. I can smell the wind.”
      They really love it and it definitely calms them down.

  5. Emily says...

    I couldn’t get past the photo — of a beach in my hometown! Northern CA pride :)

    • Capucine says...

      SAME! Hi neighbor!

      When I was a kid, there were two bridges. Sunsets are still perfect right there, though. Especially during wildfires 🥺.

  6. Nina says...

    There are some really great FREE online resources for anyone who wants to learn about mindfulness:
    – This course is perfect for beginners and there’s live feedback from the teachers if you take it when there’s a live run (several times a year): https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/mindfulness-wellbeing-performance
    – The follow-up course is also really good: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/mindfulness-life
    – For a more overtly Buddhist take on mindfulness and meditation (kind of weird this article doesn’t mention the origins of the practice!), Tara Brach has lots of free dharma talks and meditations: https://www.tarabrach.com/
    – Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield have a free 40-day programme here, currently free of charge: https://www.soundstrue.com/products/mindfulness-daily
    – Sylvia Boorstein’s short discussions about Buddhism and mindful living are incredibly reassuring and calming: http://www.sylviaboorstein.com/audio

  7. CK says...

    We’re all doing our best to survive these stressful times, but I don’t think mindfulness is the answer. There are (at least) two related, fundamental problems with mindfulness practice: 1) mindfulness theory teaches one to identify and cope with a feeling/problem – i.e., sit with your grief without judgment. This ego-centric approach fails to help us identify which thoughts/feelings/emotions are related to self versus society, and what that distinction means. If societal structures are causing stress and grief, we should not sit with that feeling without judgment – we should act. We should analyze, organize, revolutionize – make change for a better tomorrow. 2) Observing thoughts and feelings without judgment presumes that those concepts can ever be separate from self – that a thought or feeling is a thing apart from your own brain that you can look at objectively. This presumption is not only philosophically unsound, but also leads to unintended consequences – a distancing of our own experience that causes these thoughts and feelings from the thoughts/feelings themselves. As a result, it can be hard to decipher the cause of the thoughts/feelings and whether one should sit with them/let them go (ie, am I clinically depressed?), or if they are there for a reason and we need to act on them (or am I sad because I’m stuck in a bad relationship/job/etc.?). These two articles are helpful if anyone is curious about why this faux-Buddhist practice isn’t all it’s promised to be: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jun/14/the-mindfulness-conspiracy-capitalist-spirituality https://aeon.co/essays/mindfulness-is-loaded-with-troubling-metaphysical-assumptions

    • Meg says...

      CK, it sounds like meditation isn’t your jam, and that’s fine! Luckily, different things work for different folks, and it’s been profoundly helpful for me. I haven’t read the articles you linked but I’ve saved them to read on my lunch break today. However I will say that both points (1) and (2) that you make are not, at all, my understanding meditation or of Buddhism. I practice daily in the Insight/Vipassana style, have sat multiple retreats, and am involved in a close sangha (meditation community). The teachings I’ve absorbed over the years are not what you’ve summarized above.

      There are many types of meditation and many different experiences, so I only speak on behalf of my own experience, of course. Best wishes + with metta.

    • cherry says...

      this is super interesting, and i agree with you on many of your points. i actually currently work in these kinds of practices in the healthcare consulting industry, and my key chart that i always use relates to balance. one piece of it is the balance between acceptance and agency – as you’re saying, acceptance without balance becomes just being a doormat and dealing with whatever shit gets thrown at you! i believe meditation or mindfulness is a great way to access the acceptance side of the spectrum, but it certainly does not have to mean that we ignore the agency side of the spectrum, where we are autonomous agents in our own life and can effect meaningful change

    • Em says...

      The Aon article by Sahanika Ratnayake raised some interesting points that I haven’t considered before, so thanks for sharing it CK. I don’t agree with the central premise of the article though. The author seems to assert that since mindfulness isn’t a complete solution to everything, then it has no value at all. That’s a fallacy.

      The article says- “Of course, it’s often pragmatically useful to step away from your own fraught ruminations and emotions. Seeing them as drifting leaves can help us gain a certain distance from the heat of our feelings, so as to discern patterns and identify triggers. But after a certain point, mindfulness doesn’t allow you to take responsibility for and analyse such feelings. It’s not much help in sifting through competing explanations for why you might be thinking or feeling a certain way.”

      Nobody is saying, ‘quit everything useful in your life and exclusively do mindfulness meditation.’ (At least, that’s not what I’m hearing from Caroline or from others who promote mindfulness). I use meditation as a tool to discern patterns and identify triggers, as the article says, as well as a way to witness my mind + emotions from a compassionate distance. And then I use other things, like therapy, to analyze and take responsibility for those thoughts/feelings, and to change my behaviors if needed.

      This article might be better titled, “Why you Shouldn’t Become a Monk and Meditate Full Time and Expect it to Solve all Your Problems” but I wasn’t planning on doing that anyways.

  8. HH says...

    Question for the collective: what time do people meditate?!

    I’ve struggled with meditating because I just don’t know when I should (and want) to do this! I am a serious creature of habit, and while this may seem like it lends itself well to incorporating meditation, I am also paralyzed at times with how to re-arrange my, very dialed-in, schedule. I really want to do this, as I too have a hit a wall in the pandemic and want to show up better for myself and my partner (and my dog/friends/family/co-workers!) but I would love to hear from others what their “routine” is and how/why it works for them!

    Love this community and love having the opportunity to crowdsource from caring strangers on the internet ;)

    • Meg says...

      HH, I meditate every morning at 7:30am. I’m also a creature of habit! This is my pandemic/work-from-home schedule. I wake at 7am and eat breakfast, then at 7:30 I set a timer for 20min, and meditate sitting on the couch or on the floor in my bedroom. Then when I’m done I change gears to work mode and mosey over to my desk (aka dining room table).

      I find that if I do afternoon/evening meditation, I’m more likely to get sleepy and drift off, this doesn’t happen for me in the morning.

      I recommend experimenting with where you can fit the time into an your schedule! Some people do it right before drifting off to sleep, some people on a lunch break, etc.

    • Haley says...

      I started meditating this summer, using the Calm app. I strive to do it a couple of days a week before I go to sleep. It’s about 10 minutes. My partner joins me most nights too.

    • Abbey says...

      I meditate sometimes three times a day, but it began with just one “scheduled” session. Start small. Ten minutes is perfectly adequate to begin with. If your schedule is really dialed-in then to me that says you are really good at adjusting and creating a space in your life for what’s important. That dialed-in schedule didn’t come out of nowhere. You created it. So that’s a great start.
      Most people do well meditating first thing in the morning because one can often find a quiet space between when your body wakes up and when your mind wakes up. So I’d recommend taking advantage of that space if possible. When I notice I’m awake I immediately begin some conscious breathing exercises while laying down and then sit up to begin meditation.
      Evening is also a good place to start, i.e. a time of day when nothing more is scheduled and you feel like you can start putting down the things your mind has been holding all day. Before bed can be good too, but I’d recommend not starting the meditation when you’re already sleepy because well… you’ll fall asleep! Nothing wrong with that, but it becomes unconscious rest at that point and meditation is about conscious rest, or restful awareness.
      I hope that’s helpful. The desire to incorporate meditation and the willingness to find ten minutes of your day to start with holds all the potential! You’ve got this.

    • I am a mom of an almost 3 year old and the craziness of our schedules paralyzed me for a long time and got in my way of establishing a good practice. I then read about the importance of not developing any attachments/ideas about the quality or perfection of your practice and that opened up some space for me to be less hard on myself…. So, telling myself… you don’t HAVE to meditate every day, you don’t have to meditate for a LONG time… just set an intention that you want to do it and try to remember THAT. Ironically, that pretty quickly led me to practicing daily… typically around the same time – right after I drop off my kid at daycare but before I begin working. I meditate ~10-20 minutes daily. I also try to take “ten good breaths” when I catch myself getting worked up throughout the day.

    • Joyce says...

      HH, my mantra around this is: the best time to meditate is now. Said another way, the best time to meditate is whenever you WILL meditate. :) There is no “wrong” time to meditate just as there is not “right” or “wrong” WAY to meditate and sometimes — not saying this is you! — but sometimes I do feel people get obsessed with having the perfect meditation set up as an obstacle to starting what is often (realistically) a practice of embracing imperfection.

    • suki says...

      Twice a day: right after waking with a pot of tea nearby and while I am barely awake, and again after work and before dinner. If I meditate before right before bed it keeps me from sleeping because I get an awareness/calm energy boost. So before dinner is perfect.

      This may seem like a lot to people but it’s only for about 20mins each and the difference it makes in my life is profound. People comment on how calm I seem and that’s not necessarily true for how *I* feel but I am simply able to handle life better emotionally due to consistently finding inner calm. Then I forget about it, but the payout is that you gain a natural state of mindfulness throughout the day, just as a side effect of specifically putting in the work of practicing twice a day. There are many other benefits but this is how mindfulness works for me.

  9. C says...

    What a great post. I feel like mindfulness finally “clicked” for me just a few years ago, and now I am so grateful for it. A few of my most treasured practices are:
    – putting my hand on my partner’s back right after I turn out the lights at night and thinking of the ways I am grateful for him or things I love about him.
    – when I am watching TV or doing something like that with my toddler I’ll sometimes remind myself to just be fully present in his tiny delightfulness. I’ll run my finger along his ear, little arm, chubby little fingers, perfect toes (etc, etc, etc) and think to myself “I made this.”

    Both of these things help ground me in what I have and who I love and what I am grateful for which has been really helpful especially over this past year when I find myself often ruminating over the past/future.

    • Lori says...

      This is especially lovely, thank you.

  10. Sofija says...

    A timely post for me! I just completed 365 consecutive days of meditation using the Insight Timer mediation app. I look forward to meditating every day now. :)

    • Abbey says...

      Way to show up! :)

    • That’s amazing! I have been meditating daily since Feb 7 and have also felt that switch from feeling anxious about it to totally, completely looking forward to it each days. It is such a wonderful thing to observe.

    • *Dec 7, but who’s counting. ;)

  11. Robyn says...

    My favorite mindfulness teachers are Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzburg. I also find value in the meditation app 10% Happier. Some meditation and mindfulness books and material are a little too gooey for me but these practitioners base their practices in science and the study of the brain.

  12. Maria says...

    I´ve been using the 10% happier app to incorporate mindfulness into my day. I´m totally happy about it and recomend it to everyone.

  13. jules says...

    My favorite mindful practice is walking my dog in the winter. My dog LOVES cold weather and she taught me to embrace it completely. We live in MN so there is a lot of opportunity.

    The cold puts you fully in your body and senses with a wakefulness that is hard to replicate. You feel so alive. I even love it below zero.

    No earbuds. No phone. Silence. Sensation. Observation.

    • This is so beautiful. I love the cold for exactly the same reasons!

    • Marisa V. says...

      I’m from MN, but moved away, and I completely agree with your observation. Just reading your comment calmed me and put me in a good mood–thank you!

    • Rusty says...

      I walk in the rain with my dog.
      It’s just water, but everyone makes such a huge deal out of getting wet!
      “Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet!” 🚶‍♀️🐕

    • jules says...

      yes Rusty, agree completely. Loretta (my dog) is 15 and I’ve walked her every day regardless of weather. It’s changed my relationship to rain and cold and reconnected me with everyday nature, as has running through puddles with my son.

      We put 72 and sunny on a pedestal but the aliveness of below zero, the ionic softness of fresh deep snow and the feel factor of rain are sooo underrated. As the Scandinavians say, “There is no bad weather just bad clothes.”

    • suki says...

      I love Jonna Jinton’s video’s of living in Lapland for this reason. The cold dark Swedish winter was affecting her mood so she also decided to embrace it and began ice bathing which she said made a huge improvement in her depression. Her videos could make anyone LOVE winter!
      In this short one below she talks about how it helped her depression and general malaise:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEDmZlVCCzc

    • Jennifer says...

      I love this so much. I’m in Oregon and walk our golden retriever at least a couple times a day. I don’t wear earbuds either. I like to hear his dog tags jangle; the clickety-clack of his paws on pavement; the rapid and excited way his nose sniffs when he catches a scent; the view of his fluffy butt and feathery tail swishing back and forth. Am I obsessed with our dog? Yes. And I feel privileged to take care of such a magnificent, loving creature. I read somewhere that a dog walk should mainly be for your dog because it’s his/her chance to explore the world as well as bond with their human/pack, and they deserve that leisurely, precious time.

    • Vivian says...

      Oh my, yes. I live in South Dakota (from Norway originally) and I can very much relate to your mindfulness practice. There is a term in Norway called “green health” in regards to how healing nature can be, both for physical and mental health. I think of that often, as there’s nothing like sub zero temperatures to make you feel alive. Luckily, my dog, Lettuce, happily agrees.

  14. Abbey says...

    I love that we’re talking about meditation here. I began meditating on my own with help from books as a pre-teen because I was curious about heightened states of consciousness and weird experiences I’d had “spacing out” as a kid (yeah and I also loved the Beatles and couldn’t wait to try acid).

    But it wasn’t until the past 5 years that I’ve been practicing daily without exception. What I didn’t know all those years in between is that there are many different types of meditation, and it’s not just about closing your eyes and getting high, so to speak. Eventually you will lead yourself deeper into your self, but not anywhere where your feelings or actions or judgements reside. I tend to think mindfulness and meditation are not synonymous, because mindfulness implies mind is involved, that you are accessing awareness through mind albeit often peaceful and/or appreciative states. And meditation is about accessing awareness beyond or outside of mind.

    Anyway… my point is that after years of dabbling, feeling like I was doing it wrong, grasping at moments of transcendence and wondering how to get back there, it ended up being more about the simple daily practice of showing up quietly, being present, and unattached. Unattached to literally anything: body, mind, feeling, thought, outcome. An effect from meditation can be felt instantaneously in one sitting, but the cumulative effect is often life-changing. And now: I’m so fascinated by the experience of simply Being that I’m getting my masters in Consciousness & Human Potential. You really never know where meditation will lead you but it’s always, always expansion and growth.

    • MH says...

      “You really never know where meditation will lead you but it’s always, always expansion and growth.” I absolutely love this. You’ve expressed it beautifully. I agree 100% :-)

  15. Carol says...

    This is exactly what I need to do! I have hit a pandemic wall.

  16. CS says...

    What a lovely and thoughtful post. It reminds me of how great it feels to meditate. Thank you.

  17. Allison says...

    On my best days, my practice goes like this:

    – Wake up at 7:00, make coffee
    – Journal over coffee for 20 min
    – Meditate for 15 minutes
    – Yoga or other movement for 30- 45 minutes
    – Mindfully walk the dog
    – Get to work by 10:00 AM

    For a long time I struggled with the “selfishness” of taking three hours to myself each morning, but with time I’ve realized how important this morning ritual is for me. I show up as a better partner and better boss when I carve out this time for myself, especially during COVID. I remind myself that I started my own business SO THAT I could create my own schedule and live the life that I wanted, and giving myself this time each day is one of the ways that I can live in integrity.

    (And no, for those who ask: we don’t have children, by choice. I recognize it may be “easier” for me to have mornings like this because of the choice that I made here, and that’s exactly one of the reasons why I chose the childfree life)

    • b says...

      This sounds so lovely. I’m eternally grateful that my job is permanent WFH, but I work east coast hours – I would love to be able to ease into my morning like this (and not go to bed at 8 p.m. every night like I’m 100 years old because I get up at 5 a.m.).

  18. K says...

    whenever we’re discussing anxiety or depression, my husband says, if you can notice things, you can appreciate them, and if you appreciate them, you can be grateful. so next time you’re going on a sad stroll and notice the rain drops, kids giggling, birds chirping, cars whizzing, stinky garbage, good for you!

  19. Kate says...

    This is so helpful! And free! Thank you for sharing!

  20. Jessie says...

    I teach PreK in a public school in south Chicago. Every day a part of our schedule is “Mindfulness.” I lead them through different simple breath exercises. I introduce them as simple little games and challenges that last a few minutes. Afterward, we share about how it made our bodies feel. In our Peace Corner (where children go to solve conflicts), there are visuals reminding the children of the different breaths to help them calm down if they are having big feelings. Of course, these children are only four and five… so we are just planting the seeds to these practices, hoping that the lessons of self-regulation carry on with them when they most need it. Nevertheless, most certainly my favorite part of the day is Mindfulness and sneaking a peek at all these little babies with their eyes closed inhaling and exhaling so sweetly.

    • Sarah says...

      This sounds so wonderful

    • b says...

      4-5 is such a fun age. When I first started my teaching career an eon ago (2008), I was a teacher’s assistant at a preschool and worked with the 4s classes. My second favorite age is 18 months – they still want some cuddles but they’re also starting to talk more and figure out the world.

    • Kelly says...

      My 5 year old started Kindergarten this year, and she has been telling me about a “Mindlessness Time” they have every day. Initially I tried to correct her: “Are you sure it isn’t mindFULLness time, honey?” (based on what she’s described that they do during this time, it most certainly is) but she remains ADAMANT that it is mindless time, which I think is just so cute.

  21. Sonja says...

    What a lovely post. I have used the Headspace app a lot and it has made such a hugely positive impact on, well, my headspace!

  22. janika says...

    I try to remember to engage mindfulness throughout the day whenever I can. I will often feel like I am super present and physically taller and connected to everything. By that I mean I feel like I am seeing everything as if I am actually several inches taller which feels amazing. My mindfulness practice consists of just living from that place as much as possible. A challenge : ).

  23. jane says...

    Simple breath and presence meditation has been extra fruitful this last year – has really heightened beneficial serendipity and kept me grounded better than ever before while simultaneously deepening my understanding of the big picture. Very grateful for all those who led me to this practice.

  24. Marisa says...

    This is a great post, Caroline~ thank you so much for sharing all this with us.

  25. Rose says...

    Lately, I’ve been playing the “senses game” on my daily walk: look for five things (a boat! a daffodil! a seagull, blossom on a tree! interesting branch patterns!), listen for five things (children playing, the seagulls’ calls, birdsong, the sound of wind rustling the bushes, somebody’s radio indoors), feel five things (the wind on my face, the bark of a tree, the ground pushing up on my feet, the chill on the air, my rumbling tummy as dinner approaches).

    It’s surprisingly calming and I’m looking forward to seeing more signs of spring.

    • Marisa says...

      I LOVE this idea!

  26. AN says...

    Thanks for this, Caroline!

    Does anyone know of an any live meditation class (free or paid)? With this pandemic I am craving to see people/be part of a group, even for meditation rather than listening to an App :( Thanks in advance.

  27. Jen says...

    Knitting is my meditation. I HAVE to pay attention to only that when I’m knitting. ‘In the rhythm of the needles, there is music for the soul.’

    • b says...

      Knitting is my mom’s meditation too. I prefer embroidery as my meditation, but the concept is the same as far as the rhythm of the needle – that back and forth repetitive motion of laying out the stitches.

    • Erin says...

      For me it’s swimming. I used to feel bad about not being able to do the type of meditation described in this story (sitting still and thinking about what my clothes feel like just makes me want to yell “OH GOOD GRIEF!!!”) but then I read a book about what meditation does in your brain and realized that lap swimming for exercise already does it for me. Walking for exercise is pretty effective too, although the rhythmic nature of swimming, the fact that you have to plan your breathing and the boringness of the bottom of the pool all make swimming extra meditative.

  28. Rachel in Berkeley says...

    I have a pretty regular mindfulness meditation practice that was jumpstarted by the pandemic. I needed it and stay-at-home orders played a part in making it a regular part of my life. I’ve enjoyed the InsightTimer app — they have a free 40 day course taught by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. It’s a slow, low-stakes introduction to mindfulness meditation. They are both psychologists as well as world-renowned meditation teachers, so have a deep understanding and experience with the struggles of being human.

    In the last month I’ve been resistant to meditating. So. Very. Resistant. I’m trying to be curious about it (rather than “bad dog”ging myself about it) because ultimately my relationship to meditating is about my relationship to my self and my internal world.

    • SL says...

      Insight Timer is the BEST and Jack Kornfied is the best of the best!

    • I love both Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. Their free 40-day courses are so good, and Tara Brach’s podcast is the best!

  29. cherry says...

    I have a little practice I’ve done since I was a child, without being taught it or knowing or realizing it would be called meditation.
    If you’ve ever seen a puppet show, you know what the waves look like if the show is trying to depict water? Cartoonish, pointy waves, bouncing along?
    I used to picture that in my head, always moving right to left, and thoughts would bounce along with the waves. One thought at a time would pass, rocking on the waves, until it got to the left “edge” of my head and pass out of sight. I sat with the thought as long as it took to get to the edge, and then I had to let it go. Sometimes, if it was a particularly tricky one, it would come back again, starting over on the right “side” of my mindscape! But that’s okay, because the practice was about letting it go, for however short a time, when it reached the end.
    As I got older I developed a new one. Picture a deep, dark cave with an inky blue pool of water in it. I imagine myself barefoot, walking towards the pool. I can feel the cool, slightly damp surface of the stone under my feet. I am myself walking and I am also the pool. I imagine small pebbles falling into the pool, one by one. There is a disturbance of the water at first, and then the pebble sinks, but ripples are left behind, moving outwards and smoothing out until the surface of the water is still again. The pebbles are whatever anxieties or thoughts or problems I’m dealing with. Sometimes they’re not pebbles, they’re more like boulders! The ripples are more like strong waves, rocking the surface of the water, lasting a much longer time, but that’s okay – because eventually the water will calm itself again. It will accommodate those pebbles and rocks. It is deep enough to handle all that is thrown in, it will shape itself around them, but it will remain ultimately itself.
    I have a little saying that goes with these meditations – “be still, run deep”. I like the seeming contradiction between the words still and run. I like the idea of being strong and expansive enough to go deep, into myself, into others, into empathy and emotion, and yet remaining utterly myself, not reacting too fast based on my own needs, but being still enough to slow down and see the world and take it in and go deeper into it.

    • Jill says...

      Whoa. What child even HAS this conceptual ability. Most adults don’t even have it.

    • ange says...

      Thank you for sharing, this will be so helpful to many, including me.

    • Jill says...

      What I mean is, you’re impressive!

    • cherry says...

      Jill, I’m sure it was much more rudimentary when it started! I can articulate it better now so it sounds better I think :) when I was younger it was just a thing I played with in my imagination, I didn’t have any language or understanding for it.

    • ose says...

      I love this! I used to visualize sitting in a large Tibetan monastery full of monks sitting in meditation. They virtually helped me stay focused – it is so much easier to meditate in a group when you first start, or are lonely. I could see the shining Himalayan peaks through a window and inside we were warm and cozy and silent and centered. But that was years ago.

      Now, I love going to an alpine lake above the tree line where it is just shale and peaks and I sit next to the lake which is smooth or choppy according to what I’m dealing with and I enjoy watching it become smooth and placid. One of my online breathing teachers actually had a nearly identical photo on the wall behind him which was how I know he has info I need haha.

      As I write this I realize I have a few of these special places. I only use them when I really need a break though because usually I just slip into the zone as soon as I sit. That requires no visuals – just being.

    • ly says...

      Wow!! Great tips. I’m going to try myself. Thanks for sharing.

    • Cherry, you must have some strong Scorpio in your chart. Those water visualizations!

    • Sarah says...

      These are both very powerful and beautiful images. I’m going to borrow them both—thank you for sharing!

    • jules says...

      LOVE this. I do a thing about floating in water which helps, even though I can’t swim.

    • C says...

      This is AWESOME! I’m a therapist who mostly practices from an acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) framework which is huge on metaphors like this. As a highly visual person I’ve found them immensely helpful in my own life and often share this technique with clients. If you like the comment above and want some ideas, google “ACT metaphors.” There are a billion and even books written cataloging them. Of course the beauty of the above poster’s metaphors will be hard to top but it’s cool to find ones that really resonate with you personally!

    • Meghan says...

      When I was little and having a hard time falling asleep, I would imagine these spheres of protection around me, starting with very close (my body, my bed, my room, my house, our street, our neighborhood, etc.) and then progressively getting bigger (our state, our country, our continent, etc.) until the whole world was covered. Looking back I’m like that’s totally a grounding technique!

    • Yvonne says...

      ” be still, run deep” – WONDERFUL !!

    • cherry says...

      Ose, those sound lovely! The alpine lake resonates with me since (in case you can’t tell) water imagery is my jam, but I LOVE the imagery of sitting with others in meditation. I’ve never considered the social aspect, being an introvert who thrives on independence, but that is SO beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing that

  30. R says...

    Thank you for this post. I took a month long mindfulness seminar several years ago. With the regular group class and ‘homework’ in between I was practicing mindfulness on a daily basis and within a short time noticed a significant decrease in anxiety. Since that time though it has been a struggle to get into a routine. I do best with guided meditation and recommend the Calm app where you can choose various types/lengths of guided meditations. My son enjoys the ‘sleep stories’ from the app as well!

  31. Irina says...

    It might be nice to point out in your article that mindfulness meditation practice originated in the Buddhist spiritual tradition. Jon Kabat-Zinn is fabulous and was instrumental in secularizing and popularizing mindfulness but the practice did not start with him, or in a vacuum.

    • Nina says...

      Such a good point. Jon Kabat-Zinn was trained in mindfulness and meditation by Buddhist masters. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to do this stuff but failing to acknowledge the origins seems disrespectful.