We all know that a day is the 24 hours it takes for the earth to rotate on its axis in relation to the sun. Although the convention is to start the day from midnight, in medieval times the day began just after sunset and there are many cultures and religions that still use the sunset as the boundary.
In the western world, we have an average life expectancy of around 80 years, or 29,200 days, which seems very generous when compared to the 24 hours of a mayfly; but in the fast-paced modern world we live in, our days quickly come and go.
Many of us share the same daily routine of waking, washing, eating, travelling, working, eating, working, travelling, eating, relaxing and socialising, then sleeping, which punctuates most of our working lives. It’s no wonder we get caught up in the routine, as one busy day merges with the next, until the weekend arrives.
If every day is precious, how many days have we squandered by not fully appreciating the joy and wonder of being alive; open and aware, kind and compassionate, and working as skilfully as we can with each passing moment?
It’s not that we expect to be mindfully aware every moment of the day; there are bound to be times where we drift off in thought or get caught up in emotions, which is only human. It’s also unrealistic to expect each day to be an amazing, life-changing experience. Although some days will really stand out, most will be average and relatively normal. So how can we meet each day with awareness, appreciation and gratitude for what it means to be human, even when what we’re doing seems mundane?
Bringing mindful awareness into our day can make a real difference to how skilfully we work with whatever arises. One useful analogy for working skilfully is to imagine that you’re an experienced driver in a busy street. As you progress you’re open and aware to whatever arises in your field of view: the mother with a pushchair waiting to cross the road, the wobbly cyclist, or the bus pulling out ahead. Alert, open and aware, working with whatever arises, you respond skilfully to navigate a smooth and easy path through the situation.
Some practical steps for embedding mindfulness into your day include:
- Waking: When you awake, before your head fills up with thoughts, turn your attention and awareness to your body and take a few aware breaths in appreciation and gratitude
- Presence: Use a routine activity like cleaning your teeth or showering to let go of automatic thoughts for a moment and bring your attention into the present; to your senses and sensations
- Morning meditation: See if you can find 5, 10 or 15 minutes in your morning routine to simply sit with open awareness to your body, breath, and senses, acknowledging thoughts and feelings, but letting them pass through and dissolve without getting caught up in them
- Breaks: Take regular mindful breaks of 5-10 minutes during to the day. If you can, going outside to see nature or the open sky makes a real difference
- Pause: Let go of any mental and emotional movement when you come to the natural boundary between tasks, so you’re ready to begin the new task free from the noise of the previous activity
- Relationships: Extend appreciation and gratitude for all of your relationships with others, close and distant, with kindness and compassion
It’s so easy to get caught up in the routine of the day, that before you know it, another week, month, then a year has gone. By weaving regular formal and informal mindfulness practice into each day, you can improve your performance and wellbeing as well as your mental and physical health, which leads to a longer, healthier and happier life.
Find somewhere undisturbed and sit in a comfortable, dignified and upright posture, where you can remain alert and aware.
There are two guided practices for this session. You can close your eyes, or lower your gaze while the meditations play.
- Play the settling practice, then read through the session content, which you can print off if that helps.
- Then play the second audio to reflect on the day; then explore and experience what it really means to be alive in the present moment.
Suggested weekly practice
- Try starting the day with a simple breathing meditation. Find somewhere where you will not be disturbed, close your eyes and focus on your breath as you sound the words “Clear” on the in-breath and “Calm” as you exhale. Imagining a Clear blue sky in your mind and Calm emotions like the still surface of a beautiful lake.
- Notice and appreciate things that are special and sacred during the day: your loved ones, the flowers in the garden, the beautiful sky, for example.
- Connect with and feel gratitude for the energy and aliveness in your body as you walk during the day.
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