by Richard Johnson
Types of Practice
As you contemplate putting together your own ongoing mindfulness practice, you might consider these three building blocks: (1) formal practice on your own, (2) group formal practice, and (3) informal practice.
Group Practice: You can experience group meditation in our mindfulness classes and there are meditation groups meeting regularly in the Northwest - see our Community page for some suggestions. You may find that your formal and informal practice are aided by joining one of these groups. You might also be able to join together with friends and form a simple practice group of your own also.
Levels of Practice
Check out this list of levels of practice to see what’s best for you:
Platinum: daily formal practice 20 or more minutes, and informal practice, and weekly group practice.
Gold: daily formal practice of 5-15 minutes, and informal practice.
Silver: daily formal practice for a few minutes, and some informal practice.
A real step forward: informal practice as often as possible.
Putting together your own practice
We who teach mindfulness value formal and informal practice. We see how the one supports the other. But we know that many of us don’t feel we have the time for formal practice. It is true that the combination of a demanding work schedule and family life can leave very little time to devote to yourself. But you may have a habitual way of thinking is preventing you from practicing, a mindset that “there’s no time for me.” We invite you to explore this mindfully. Even a few minutes of formal practice daily can be very helpful. You might especially look at transitions between major activities (work and home, say) and whether your downtime activities are truly nourishing.
The beauty of informal practice is that it takes no extra time. Only remembering to pay attention to whatever’s happening in and around you. Many former participants in our courses report that informal practice, even without formal practice, gives them a helpful opportunity to pause and come back to the present moment again and again. Informal practice alone is A Real Step Forward.
For some suggestions on keeping up the formal practice at home see the essay “Maintaining a Daily Practice” on the website.
Wishing you well as you come up with what works for you, and reminding you that we change over time. Just be open, and who knows what the future will offer you?