By Leo Babauta
In January, we’re going to practice mindfulness, one small step at a time.
The idea is that mindfulness is amazing when you practice during sitting meditation — really, that’s the fundamental practice — but how do you take the mindfulness practice off the cushion into the rest of your busy life?
How do you practice mindfulness all day?
So the Month of Mindfulness is an exploration of how that might be done.
We’re not going to actually achieve all-day mindfulness in one month. This is a lifetime practice that we’re not going to master overnight. However, we will learn some tools that can be used for an all-day mindfulness practice. A set of practices, that help us carry the practice into every part of our lives.
So let’s take a look at how this might work, but first look at why we should even try it.
Why All-Day Mindfulness?
I’ve found a more mindful life to be one of the best changes possible. Just a few of the benefits of mindfulness that I’ve discovered:
- You’re more present, which means you’re not missing great moments by thinking about other things
- You are more connected with people you’re with
- You are more aware of urges, which means you can better change your habits
- You notice your resistance, and negative self-talk, which means you’re not powerless to them
- Life becomes better when you savor it
There are a bunch of health benefits, too, but beyond all the benefits, a mindful life is just a joy to live. It’s not necessarily a means to an end — it’s an end itself.
Life as Meditation
Sitting meditation, again, is the fundamental practice of mindfulness, but if we can expand our idea of what meditation is, all of a sudden life itself becomes a mindfulness practice.
Why does meditation have to be a special period when we sit and pay attention? Why can’t every activity, every moment, be the practice of paying attention?
Now, this of course is an ideal — very few people actually meditate all day long, every moment. We won’t reach this ideal in one month. We’ll take the first steps in that direction, with the acknowledgement that we may never reach the ideal and that’s not the real point anyway. The point is to practice and learn and see what happens.
How We’ll Do It
We’ll go into more detail in the Month of Mindfulness Plan, but let’s take a short overview of what we’ll be doing this month.
Each week, we’ll focus on one mindfulness practice — sitting meditation, a mindful eating session, walking meditation, and a single-tasking session. More on each of these later, but the basic idea is that each is a form of meditation, designed to get us better at being mindful during different activities.
We’ll be doing four practices by the fourth week — that’s a lot. But each practice is just 2-5 minutes long, and overall the plan is doable if you’re committed. So you need to be committed. Be all in. Tell friends and family about it. Join an accountability team and commit to reporting daily. Make this a focus of yours throughout the day. Have reminders.
We’ll learn a lot about mindfulness and meditation this month, not by reading, but through practice. And through this practice, we’ll get better at mindfulness, which I believe you’ll find to be one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever learned.
Read next: the Month of Mindfulness Plan.