How often do I need to practice mindfulness?
If you are new to mindfulness practice it is best to begin gradually ideally under the guidance of an experienced mindfulness practitioner. Try to establish a regular routine, set aside a regular time each day. Be realistic, start with five minutes and gradually build it up over time to say twenty minutes, but don’t be rigid and simply notice what works – doesn’t work for you and without judgement. There is no right or wrong way otherwise you are not practicing mindfulness. It can also be helpful to join a regular facilitated group with like-minded people, which can provide gentle encouragement and support. For those more experienced practitioners it is also good to commit to a mindfulness retreat once or twice a year.
What is the difference between meditation and mindfulness?
There are many different types and variants of meditation. Broadly speaking these can be classified according to whether:
(1) they are single – pointed concentrative practices, where attention is purposefully – deliberately focused on an object of awareness, for example a sound or repeating a mantra and;
(2) non-preferential practices where attention is focused on moment to moment awareness as it unfolds, noticing whatever sensations, thoughts feeling and states of mind are present as they present themselves, without judgement or analysis.
Mindfulness falls under the latter, non-preferential practice, as descibed by Jon Kabat-Zinn as, “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally"
See also Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart by Mark Epstein (Broadway Books, Jul 99).
Where is it best to practice mindfulness?
Ideally you should find somewhere quiet where you will not be interrupted. However, you may want to try different variations, for example you can practice mindfulness while literally on the go, through a walking meditation returning to a single focus point, such as your heel and toe as they alternate and make contact with the ground if and when your mind wanders as it inevitably will. It is also a good way to get some exercise and notice, connect with nature.