Informal Mindfulness Vs. Formal Mindfulness: Why You Should Know The Difference - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Informal Mindfulness Vs. Formal Mindfulness: Why You Should Know The Difference

Mindfulness for beginners.

Perhaps you’re ready to begin a meditation practice and experience the many benefits it has to offer. But there may be one issue: You might not know how to start meditating.

With so many different meditation techniques and traditions to try, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed, confused, or even silly at first. But meditation doesn’t have to be daunting.

Whether you’re brand to mediation new or haven’t practiced in a long time you can start small and build your practice over time.

So…what is Mindfulness?  

Mindfulness is the practice of bringing awareness to whatever you’re doing in the present moment, without being judgmental or caught up in thoughts. Often people assume that mindfulness is a state of mind whereby you feel calm and have a completely clear mind. However, Mindfulness does not eliminate stress or other difficulties; instead, it helps us to become aware of unpleasant thoughts and emotions that arise and can change our relationship to those thoughts.  

What is the difference between informal and formal mindfulness?  

Often people think that in order to practice mindfulness you need to be engaged in formal meditation. However, mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways. The formal practice of mindfulness involves intentionally setting aside some time and space to practice a mindfulness exercise, such as listening to a guided meditation. There are so many different guided meditations available on the Headspace app to suit all different personalities and is great for those who need some tips on how to focus. 

Informal mindfulness is where we bring the focus of our attention to our everyday life. You could practice informal mindfulness when eating breakfast, going for a walk, or doing the dishes, by using your five senses to pay attention to what you can hear, see, feel, smell, or taste in each moment.  

What’s the best way to approach meditation?  

When starting out, I would recommend a guided meditation such as the ‘Basic Meditation’ in the Headspace app. Doing guided meditation is like having a driving instructor when you’re learning to drive. They are able to provide instruction, guidance and encouragement as you learn this new skill. Try to start with shorter meditations initially and then build up slowly.   

 How can I start?  

Evidence conducted by the Headspace app indicates that just 10 days of practice can reduce stress, irritability and negative emotions, and increase happiness and resilience. I recommend that people set themselves a target to practice every day for 10 days.

Headspace has a ‘Basic Meditation’ course that provides instruction and guidance each day for 10 days. This is a great way to learn mindfulness and develop habits around regular practice.

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