A maverick guide to my favourite mindfulness practices and how to practice them
Mindfulness practices are found in many cultures throughout the world. Similarly, my bicycle journey to the Far East and back again led me to the far reaches of the globe. Remote hill tribes, Indian gurus and good-hearted lay folk shared their knowledge in my quest for authentic spiritual wisdom.
All through my travels kind strangers hosted me with sincerity and generosity. Above all, it was these experiences that steered me towards the local customs and cultural traditions that have influenced the mindfulness practices that I use today.
A daily mindfulness practice
In this easy to follow guide I outline my favourite mindfulness practices and share how to practice them. Therefore, the take away from this article is a daily mindfulness practice of your own.
Firstly, explore these awesome daily mindfulness practices to improve the quality of your life, reveal your true nature and supercharge your day.
Mindfulness – how to practice?
Mindfulness practices have one unifying theme. Awareness and repetition are at the heart of a committed practice, for instance. In other words, the repetition of awareness is the first step in how to practice mindfulness.
Those new to these traditions often ask; ‘mindfulness – how to practice?’ The answer is more simple than most believe possible.
How to practice mindfulness for the western mind
Unhelpfully, the western mind over complicates mindfulness practice. The Western mind believes there to be a ‘right way’ or a ‘special method’ to ‘achieving success’.
Actually, there are no silver bullets on how to practice mindfulness. Ultimately, mindfulness practice is sustained repetition of awareness that leads to a heightened state of consciousness leading to insight.
These books about mindfulness are a great place to start for the enthusiastic novice.
Tibetan Buddhist Mindfulness Practices
Shop Three Heart Mantras of Tibetan Bon on Amazon*
Tibetan Bon Mantra
In the ancient Tibetan lineage there are a number of mindfulness practices that use mantra to achieve enlightenment. My favourite is a simple universal mantra that I use when eating mindfully.
Aum ah hum
Aum ah hum is the mantra I repeat while eating. At the same time I imagine a tiny Buddha at the centre of my heart with his arms wide, gratefully receiving the food.
Shop Mindful Eating, Mindful Life on Amazon*
The Balanced View
‘Resting in awareness’ is a popular mindfulness practice. Candice Rinpoche downloaded and transmitted this modern mindfulness practice. Found all over the world, the Balanced View teachings are particularly popular among friends here in north Goa.
Resting in awareness with short moments
Simply take ‘short moments‘ throughout the day to maintain ‘complete perceptual openness’ to ‘all data streams’. Over the course of the day you’ll find that you’ve put together a long sequence of short moments to experience inner peace and equanimity.
The Balanced View is now part of the Dzogchen teachings of Tibetan Buddhism under the lineage of the Venerable Candice Rinpoche.
Shop Dzogchen Daily Teachings on Amazon*
Three simple steps to mindfulness
While traveling in north India some years ago, I attended a three day meditation retreat at the Tushita Meditation Centre. Under the tutelage of Glenn Svensson, I learned the art of Shamatha practice. As an experienced Vipassana meditator, I learned to take my meditation practice to a new level.
Words of a Master
“Loosely relax and watch your thoughts from afar, clearly observing whatever arises. That which observes is called mindfulness… that which is observed is called movement, and resting in that state is called stillness. Identify them as such and meditate! If you meditate earnestly, stable meditative experiences of the bliss, luminosity, and non-conceptuality of shamatha will arise in your mindstream.” – Dudjom Lingpa 1835-1904
Shop How To Practice Shamatha Meditation on Amazon*
Relax, return, repeat
Glenn used these three simple words to encourage students to cultivate inner kindness while mastering the art of meditation. If you find your mind wandering, simply relax the body, return to awareness and repeat the practice of Shamatha.
Shamatha practice is a the cornerstone of Buddhist practice and is similar to Vipassana. You can listen to the full recording of the three day course, ‘Cultivating Mindfulness and Emotional Balance’ via Google Drive here.
Japanese Mindfulness Practices
Shop Shakyo Heart Sutra Copying materials on Amazon*
Mindfulness practice is renowned in Japan. Shakyo, for example, is the art of tracing sutras to cultivate focus of the mind. For thousands of years this ancient technique has helped ordinary people. Folks struggling with the grief associated with loss of a loved one and coping with anxiety and depression have all benefited from shakyo.
Shiso Kanko is a classic Japanese mindfulness practice. Literally translated it means ‘checking and calling.’ A train driver, for example, will recite aloud the safety checks he performs at each station.
A simple breath practice
Shop Vipassana; The Art of Living on Amazon*
Anapana is a simple awareness of breath technique taught in India. Imagine a triangle from the top of the nose to the base of the upper lip. Now, become aware of the sensations as the breath comes in and goes out. This is anapana.
Metta is the act of transmitting loving-kindness for the goodwill of all beings. Therefore, it is performed at the end of each session of Vipassana meditation as an offering of peace. Finally, simply imagine good intentions radiating out from your heart space to those in your thoughts.
Have you got a favourite mindfulness practice? Share them in the comments below: