Setting the scene with an awareness of the present. Every moment of the day.
This is a huge topic. And this is just an introduction.
But there are so many similarities in benefits between walking and mindfulness, to come close to our vision of a celebration of movement and wellbeing, we had to give participants some basic understanding of Mindfulness
Our introduction of mindfulness is mostly based on the work of John Kabat Zinn and Mark Williams and we suggest reading:
- Mark Williams The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (Simple and extremely powerful book)
- John Kabat Kinn Full Catastrophe Living: How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation (The landmark book)
One thing we do want to stress.
Today, in a highly commercialised and a monetised world, mindfulness is often sold as meditation. So much so that mindfulness is almost synonymous with meditation.
It is not.
Mindfulness is every single moment of your life. The actual meditation is just a small part, a mere training tool for a very large picture. And we use the word mere in a very very small way.
You may have noticed in so many of our articles we keep stressing “Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness.”
And not to walk through life blindly, especially when we look at habits.
What we have been trying to introduce is a sense of mindfulness in whatever you do. So you are aware of what moments make up your life. For only then can you take action and make changes.
Mindfulness and meditation are often used to mean the same thing, which can be confusing, while not many are clear on what ‘mindfulness meditation’ is and how it differs from either of the above.
Mindfulness is being aware. It’s noticing and paying attention to thoughts, feelings, behaviour, and everything else. Mindfulness can be practised at any time, wherever we are, whoever we are with, and whatever we are doing, by showing up and being fully engaged in the here and now. Source
Living a mindful life is about being aware of the present and understanding its place, its connection and its effect on our thoughts and actions throughout every moment of our lives.
You LIVE mindfulness. And in that life, there is a small part which is meditation.
And we will look at what leading a mindful life entails over the next few days.
But first … the short introduction to mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Wikipedia provides a very concise answer.
Mindfulness is the psychological process of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment, which one develops through the practice of meditation and through other training.
Mindfulness derives from sati, a significant element of Buddhist traditions and based on Zen, Vipassanā, and Tibetan meditation techniques.
Though definitions and techniques of mindfulness are wide-ranging, Buddhist traditions explain what constitutes mindfulness such as how past, present and future moments arise and cease as momentary sense impressions and mental phenomena.
Mindfulness in the Modern Western (and somewhat secular) Context
Historically, the arrival of mindfulness to the US is attributed to Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Kabat-Zinn is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat-Zinn was first introduced to the philosophy of Buddhism while he was a student at MIT.
Later, in 1979, he founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he adapted Buddhist teachings on mindfulness and developed the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program.
He later renamed the program “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR), removing the Buddhist framework and eventually downplayed any connection between mindfulness and Buddhism, instead putting MBSR in a scientific context. Source
What is Mindfulness by Jon Kabat Zinn
The very long version
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
- Find a safe and comfortable place
It does not have to be anything special. You don’t need any tools. Just a place where you can be safe and comfortable. You could find a moment sitting by the side of your bed. Or a spot in the living room or garden. You may want a pillow or cushion to place under you. You may even do it lying down.
Keep adjusting and learning what works for you. It does not even need to be quiet; so you can do it at your desk at work. But what you do need is a chance not to be interrupted by someone. And even if you are. That’s ok.
Start again, or continue or even decide to come back to it another time. Just be kind to yourself and those around you.
2. How to sit.
Actually, there is no “How to sit.”
You can sit on a chair, on the floor, lie down, kneel. But whatever you do, just make sure you are in a stable position with no chance of falling over.
And it would help to be in a position that you can stay in, and be comfortable, for the duration of your meditation.
3. It’s got something to do with breathing?
Well, a lot of it is, yes.
And being aware of your breath.
You will often hear the phrase “Using the breath as the anchor”
When you follow the sensation of your breath as it goes out and as it goes in. This is your focus. It is your anchor.
This is where you place ALL YOUR ATTENTION whilst slowly and gently allowing other thoughts to drift away, and allowing them to stay away for a while.
Until, of course, …
4. The Monkey Mind.
Yup. It won’t sit still. It’s curious, mischievously playful, its always …
“OH LOOK SQUIRREL!”
Your mind will wander. It inevitably does. And that is perfectly fine.
It’s what our minds do. And that is why we practise mindfulness. To slowly, gently, practise and “calm” this wandering mind.
Your focus or attention may leave the sensations and flow of the breath. You may still be looking at an image, but your mind is somewhere else.
“I must remember to stop by the supermarket …..”, “I wish I had taken the laundry in”, “What a cute squirrel I saw today” and the mind wanders to places.
Sometimes many places before you realise that it has taken multiple trips.
But when you do notice this, don’t be frustrated.
Make a note, even have a quiet mental laugh.
I am not embarrassed to say I even talk to my Monkey Mind.
“What?! How did you … nice, clever, I saw what you did there (Mental Laugh) Now are you ready to come back? That’s it, let’s follow my breathing, and see how long we can focus on that.”
And simply bring your attention back to your breath or the object of your focus.
Be kind to your wandering mind.
Don’t judge yourself if your mind wanders off or over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in.
Just gently and with a kindness guide your mind back and bring your focus to the breath once again.
That’s it! That’s a mindful meditation practice.
You start. Your mind and focus may drift away. You come back and refocus.
You ALWAYS guide your mind back with gentleness and kindness.
Never get frustrated. It is not a competition or race.
Just refocus on the meditation.
The Million Steps Mindfulness Meditation Tracks
Our mindfulness tracks have been recorded by Marison Imon and Marissa Marin.
Marisa Imon: we feel these are a more gentle, beginner introduction to mindfulness
Marissa Marin: the recordings follow the traditional style of Jon Kabat Zinn and Mark Williams.
Marisa Imôn is a musician, voice-over artist, comedic motivational speaker, author and host of the podcast Incandescent: An Unconventional Meditation Podcast, a meditation series designed to be enjoyed while multi-tasking activities like yoga, walking, washing dishes, getting ready in the morning, and exercising.
She has created hundreds of meditations for various apps and businesses across the globe, with her work featured in fourteen countries.
Her motivational performances combine music, comedy and inspirational messages to battle the stigma of mental illness and stimulate dialogue.
Marisa lives with Bipolar Type 1 and promotes the mindfulness practices that have positively supported her in living with her diagnosis. Her passion for reducing stigma and sharing resources that support mental health is woven in every aspect of her work.
Marisa music can be found on Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora under Marisa Imôn for folk/pop as well as the artist name Holographic Universe for meditation music.
We at Million Steps discovered Marisa a couple of years ago and began to listen to some of her recordings. When we explained what we were trying to achieve at on a Million Steps Challenge, Marisa showed great kindness and we are so glad she agreed to record four tracks for us.
We also realised that Marisa had such an amazing approach to introducing people to mindfulness. Her voice and tone and philosophy made it perfect for us and the four tracks are listed as our Beginner’s Introduction to Mindfulness.
You can download Marisa Imon’s recordings HERE
5 Minute Basics of Mindfulness for Million Steps Marisa Imon
5 Minute Beginner Meditation for Million Steps Marisa Imon
10 Minute Focus Meditation for Million Steps Marissa Imon
20 Minute Beginners Body Scan for Million Steps Marisa Imon
Marissa Marin is a life coach and a meditation artist. She blends her two passions into her scripts and that gives her work a very particular style.
Her soothing voice has been going around the globe since 2017, reaching thousands of people who are eager to be guided as they dive deeper into their own meditation journey
We were looking for someone to do a voice-over for an advertisement we wanted to run when we came across Marissa.
During our early discussions, we learnt that Marissa was also on her journey of mindfulness. We discussed the vision of One Million Steps and how we wanted to get the basics of mindfulness across.
Marissa kindly suggested I write up some of the scripts (which was a fantastic opportunity) and we work on the audio to get the pace and feel of it. Together we wrote and produced the five essential scripts of mindfulness meditation, very much based around the traditional Jon Kabat-Zinn and Mark Williams style of work.
We think that Marissa’s voice is just perfect for beginners looking to move towards a more formal mindfulness meditation.
You can download Marissa Marin’s recordings HERE
1 Minute Grounding Meditation with Marissa Marin
3 Minute Breathing Space Meditation with Marissa Marin
5 Minute Mindfulness Meditation of the Breath with Marissa Marin
10 Minute Awareness of Breath Meditation with Marissa Marin
20 Minute Body Scan with Marissa Marin
Suggested Progression over 14 days to 28 Days
- Day 1 and 2: 5 Minute Basics of Mindfulness for Million Steps Marisa Imon
- Day 3 and 4: 5 Minute Beginner Meditation for Million Steps Marisa Imon
- Day 5 and 6: 5 Minute Mindfulness Meditation of the Breath with Marissa Marin
- Day 7 and 8: 10 Minute Focus Meditation for Million Steps Marissa Imon
- Day 9 and 10: 10 Minute Awareness of Breath Meditation with Marissa Marin
- 11 and 12: 10 Minute Focus Meditation for Million Steps Marissa Imon
- Day 13 and 14: 10 Minute Awareness of Breath Meditation with Marissa Marin
Continue with a 10 Minute meditation every day for week three and four but try adding at least once per week.
- Week Three: 20 Minute Beginners Body Scan for Million Steps Marisa Imon
- Week Four: 20 Minute Body Scan with Marissa Marin
This simple progression can develop the beginnings of a mindfulness meditation practice to help bring focus to the present.
We are all very VERY different. This is just a suggestion and everyone will have a different journey. The important thing is to persist.
USE YOUR HABIT CHART
DON’T FORGET the 1 Minute Grounding and 3 Minute Breathing Space meditations.
Keep them handy, on your phone or laptop.
Use them in moments of stress or just to give yourself a moment away from the bustle of the world around you.
But remember, meditation plays just a small, if important, part in leading a mindful life.
Over the next four days, we will introduce you to the 9 Pillars of Mindfulness by Jon Kabat Zinn.
These are the foundations to which Mindfulness becomes an every moment experience of life.
As you go through the 4 Week progression with an understanding of the 9 Pillars, we hope that you will have begun to take your first steps on a life long journey of awareness and focus.
And again, we cannot stress this enough. Now it really comes into play.
Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness.
To find out more about the Million Steps Challenge and how we can help you, your business or charity, please visit https://millionsteps.com
Or Register your organisation interest: Million Steps CoVid-19 Package here