Practicing “Stealth Mindfulness” All Day Long

Our culture today seems to almost deify disconnection. Young schoolchildren have the latest iGadgets, 2-year-olds are adept at smartphones, and it’s not unusual to see everyone at family gatherings ignoring each other while tapping on their devices.

Connecting with others, however, is an opportunity to practice mindfulness—speaking, listening and interacting—and we can do it all day long. Faculty and staff at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center even have a term for that kind of practice: It’s called taking mindfulness “off the cushion” and into the world of “relational mindfulness.” In my training, “off the cushion” is called the “informal mindfulness practice” with everyday interactions.

Why is it important to get metaphorically get off the cushion or practice informal mindfulness? Because, say Center researchers, busy people today feel as if they don’t have time to stop and practice mindfulness. How, then, can mindfulness be incorporated into our everyday lives? Try some of these ideas:

  • Stay deeply present. When feeling spaced out, gently bring yourself into the present moment. And when interacting with others, display authenticity and love.
  • Be a mindful listener. Often, we cut people off, jump in and try to “fix” people, or turn the conversation toward us. If you listen attentively, people feel seen and understood.
  • Notice your body. It might be your feet touching the ground, hands on your lap, or back against a chair. For most people, noticing a physical sensation serves as a reminder to come back to the present.
  • Speak skillfully. Use words with care and intentionality. Talk authentically from the heart.
  • Keep internal awareness alive. Cultivate an inner awareness when you’re speaking, noticing, for example, when your cheeks feel flushed or how tired you are. This allows you to learn more about yourself and what’s happening in the present moment, says Diana Winston, director of mindfulness education at the Mindful Awareness Research Center. “It keeps an internal awareness alive.”
  • Practice when it feels right to you. Just be aware that you have opportunities 24/7.
  • Choose what you want to practice. It might be: listening, speaking authentically, or just putting away your phone to fully engage with the check-out person at the grocery store.

Finally, remember that no one needs to know what you are doing when you are practicing informal mindfulness because it’s a form of “stealth” mindfulness—mindfulness you can quietly practice all day long.

More information: https://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-247/