Meals are a good time for mindfulness. Tasting the food. Chewing slowly, thoroughly. Feeling the textures. Feeling your body’s reactions. Add to that whatever happens to be going on around you at mealtime. How mindful can you be?
Mindfulness means being aware. Be Here Now was the catch phrase of an entire generation. Anyway, mindfulness means paying attention, being mindful. There is no best time for it.
It is the same with meditation. My first time meditating was late at night or even in the deep hours after midnight. But when I was introduced to the path of yoga, meditation also slowly became an always thing. Of course, you know you best and you’re allowed to decide what’s best for you.
The Indian tradition says the Brahma muhurt, about 1.5 hours before sunrise, or that crack between dark and light, is best for meditation. But that timing is not for everyone. That creates an entire lifestyle. But if you can do it, then you can also practice mindfulness very easily at that time when you wake up and make your tea. Watch the stirring of the spoon and the sugar grains. If you have a fire, feed a couple of spoons into the fire. Sit with the tea and feel the heat and taste the sweet while listening to the silence of the early morning and feeling the coming of the day. Good time of day for practice.
Regarding mindfulness as an exercise, please realize that you are already practicing mindfulness in some form during your daily routine. Sometimes you are mindful of the task at hand, whether brushing your teeth, shaving, vacuuming a carpet, etc. Sometimes you are more mindful than others, for instance when you are writing a report or doing some job that requires your professional attention and you are wary of making mistakes. There are just so many instances in which you employ your skills of mindfulness throughout your day.
Conscious Mindfulness Practice (Basic)
Have you ever heard of the raisin experience? Take a raisin in your mouth. Allow yourself to be attentive and experience the varieties of sensation that raisin creates in your mouth. Feel the tactile input on the tongue. Sense the tang on the sides of the tongue or at the back corners of the mouth. Distinguish the sweet from the sour. Let that raisin be in the mouth for a full minute or two before biting. Just be with the raisin. Then start chewing. How do you feel now? Are you relieved to be able to get into the experience of eating? Looking forward to swallowing? Are you enjoying the game you are playing with your attention? What thoughts or feelings are you experiencing around this raisin test? I could go on in a little more detail, but you get the gist. This is one very basic mindfulness practice session and can be done anytime you have a few minutes.
Conscious Mindfulness Practice (Advanced)
I’ll jump straight to the top of the practice in a series of exercises defined as Ashtangha Yoga with the goal of total Self realization. Stages 5–7 of the practice are:
5. Sense withdrawal
6. One-pointed focus
These exercises are employed with the objective of refining your mindfulness to such a level that you will become totally familiar with the inner workings of your psychology and physiology on your way to completely abandoning any differentiation at all between an outer and external world, or any distinction at all between this and that in the inner world only. The goal – complete absorption into the void of Silence and the awakening of a state defined by the sages as Samadhi. These practices require a little more time and are better undertaken as part of a regular routine, and that, too, in concord with stages 1–4.
The question now becomes, though, for what purpose you are wanting to develop your mindful acuity. Strengthening powers of concentration and focus, attention and clarity, introspection and analysis, critical and linear thinking – these are all part of a package of mindfulness-enabled skills applicable to our daily lives. There are so many more as well! And most mindful practices are easily practiced whenever one has the mind to practice them, or the intention, and takes only as much time as you would like to to devote to the conscious practice of the same. On that note, routines are known to become embedded in our psycho-physiology after about 12 days, so if you set yourself a good routine of practices, they may more than likely become part of your habit of being in short order.
…is a Saiva Tantrika, Gyana Yogi and founder of Uma Maheshwara Yoga & Ayurveda. David has an MA in Semiotics, lives in Japan with his family and works as a coach in L & D, devoting his time to developing science-based tools and programs that help people reach the fullest potential of the human condition.