How to Practice Informal Mindfulness?

Did you know that informal mindfulness can be integrated into your day to day and thus practice mindfulness? We tell you how to do it.

Both informal and formal mindfulness constitute a strategy that promotes mindfulness.Through various meditation techniques, the ability to be present in the "here and now" can be trained, increasing the ability to observe both what happens in the mind and the sensations of the body.

However, mindfulness strategies can be divided into formal and informal. The latter are a reason for attention since knowledge is transferred from formal practices to routine tasks. In this article, special mention will be made of the practice of informal mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the English translation of the Pali term sati, which means 'awareness, attention and remembrance'. The definitions of mindfulness are various, among the most important are those of Kabat - Zinn (1990) and Bishop (2004), considering mindfulness as the way to bring attention in a non-evaluative way to the experiences that occur in the present moment, without getting entangled in them and accepting them for what they are.

Mindfulness techniques are also used in the context of some currents of psychology, adapting certain processes with Zen philosophy. This is the case, for example, of third generation therapies (ACT and DBT), gestalt therapy, brief relational therapy (TBR), mindfulness- based stress reduction therapy (MBSR) and mindfulness- based cognitive therapy ( MBCT ).

Characteristics of mindfulness

Mindfulness tools constitute an element that contributes the following characteristics to the process:

  • Attention to the present moment : instead of being anchored in the past or building expectations that may not resemble the future reality
  • Openness to experience: refers to the ability to return to the "beginner's mind." Observe things as if they were happening for the first time, being open even to negative experiences.
  • Acceptance : accepting that experiences are limited and pass over time. The fact of wanting to avoid certain events can involve the person in a struggle that leads to maladaptive behaviors.
  • Intention: to have an objective that moves to certain purposes, without expectations of satisfying our desires immediately.
  • Formal Mindfulness - Informal Mindfulness
  • The mindfulness formal and informal vary in the way in which mindfulness exercises are performed. For example, the mindfulness formally looks more strategies oriental meditation, leaving a space of time to the day quietly and letting flow thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, etc., being open to the experience and making use of breathing as method of anchoring to the present moment.

However, the mindfulness informally would adapt these techniques to the daily routine. Establish the relationship that exists in the "here and now" with what is being done in a much more conscious way, paying attention to a single moment instead of wandering through the past or the future.

The practice of informal mindfulness involves focusing on the task we are doing, paying attention with the 5 senses to all the experiences that occur in the moment. Unlike formal practices, you do not need a break a day to do the practice. What's more, while certain tasks are carried out, you can pay attention to what is happening at the same time.

How to practice informal mindfulness ?

There are several ways to practice informal mindfulness. Here are some that we can easily apply to our daily routine:

  • At the time of cooking: choosing food to cook, paying attention to texture, color and sound when cutting food or looking for information about its nutritional value while cooking
  • In the shower : pay attention to physical and olfactory sensations, such as hot water running on the skin or the smell of soap.
  • Maintaining a dialogue with another person: being able to pay attention to the speech, the tone of voice and the feelings and emotions that that person may be experiencing as the words are being communicated to the other.
  • Listening to music : paying attention to the different sounds of music and the different instruments that make up the track. Once you have paid attention to each instrument or voice that makes up the musical piece, pay attention to all of them in their entirety.
  • Walking : focusing attention on bodily sensations, on the work of the muscles or on the rhythm of our breathing. We can also play mentally without leaving the present moment; for example, we can put any person with whom we come across the label of an emotion.

But what if I don't have time?

In short, the mindfulness tool is used in the contexts of psychological therapy and can also be transferred to contexts of daily life. It is advisable to start with formal practice and then learn informal techniques, although it is not a mandatory or necessary condition.

Many of the people who are recommended to put this strategy in their lives, complain about the lack of time. It is often said that if you do not have time for 15 minutes of mindfulness, then you should use 30.