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Sandra Pawula

Mindfulness Saves a Lot of Hassle

"When I eat, I eat." "When I eat, I eat."

When was the last time you missed a turnoff, misplaced your cell phone, lost your car keys or overlooked an important detail at work?

If you counted the number of times these small errors of mindlessness occur in a single day, you might be taken aback.  In fact, a great deal of time, energy, and money can be lost through these simple mishaps of mis-attention.

Mindfulness is not just an esoteric practice for monks ensconced in Himalayan caves.  It actually has a very powerful and practical application at work and in daily life.  It can increase your effectiveness and productivity, bring more presence into your interactions, and foster more joy in your family life.

"Mindfulness saves a lot of hassle" is a slogan coined by Sogyal Rinpoche to help remind us to bring mindfulness and awareness into every moment and action of our life.

How to Practice Mindfulness in Daily Life

So how do you practice mindfulness in daily life?  Here's some advice from the Buddha:

"Once an old woman came to Buddha and asked him how to meditate.  He told her to remain aware of every movement of her hands as she drew the water from the well, knowing that if she did, she would soon find herself in the state of alert and spacious calm that is meditation." - from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Of course, we shouldn't become overly concentrated on the task at hand either.  If we do, we might just get a tension headache or become oblivious to what's happening around us, which could be dangerous.  It's best to balance mindfulness with spaciousness and watchful awareness.

Eat When You Eat

There's also a famous Zen dialogue between a master and a student that speaks about how to practice mindfulness in daily life, recounted in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying like this:

"Master, how do you put enlightenment into action?  How do you practice it in everyday life?"

"By eating and sleeping," replied the master.

"But Master, everybody sleeps and everybody eats."

"But not everybody eats when they eat, and not everybody sleeps when they sleep."

From this comes the famous Zen saying, "When I eat, I eat; when I sleep, I sleep."

If you find there are too many hassles in your life due to being forgetful, accident prone, or losing your attention in the moment, the practice of mindfulness may be the perfect solution for you.

Skillful Reminders

You can set a gentle alarm on your computer, cell phone, or watch to remind yourself to come back to the present moment every 30 minutes, every hour, or whatever time frame works well for you. Just bring your mind home, place your attention on your breath, and let your mind be.  These “mini-mindfulness” breaks can be as short as a minute or as long as five minutes.  By repeating them regularly, mindfulness will gradually start to infuse the moments in between.

You can also use regular events in your life - like eating or drinking a cup of coffee or tea - to trigger mindfulness.  Or post the slogan - "mindfulness saves a lot of hassle" - in obvious places at home or work to help you remember to bring your mind home.

Integration breaks like this are not a substitute for formal meditation.  A daily or regular meditation practice is essential for mindfulness to blossom fully in life.  But even if you haven’t made the leap into meditation quite yet, you can nourish yourself with “mini-minduflness” breaks and start eliminating all those unnecessary hassles from your life.

Image:  Public Domain Pictures (dot) Net