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101 Inspiring Mindfulness Quotes to Live By

101 Inspiring Mindfulness Quotes to Live By

Mindfulness practice, at its foundation, is simple and straightforward (at least, the how, actually doing the practice can be another story).

However, the practice of mindfulness is really our whole life. It's mindfulness practice which allows us to become more awake to our life as a whole and uncover countless insights that have a real and significant impact on the quality of our day-to-day life.

For this reason, mindfulness practice touches every aspect of our life. It includes what goes on within us, from the story we tell ourselves in our day-to-day life with thoughts and imaginations and the myriad of feelings we experience such as fear, anger, and sadness to the sensations we feel in the body and how the mind and body are really interconnected as one whole, sensations affecting the mind and thoughts and feelings affecting the body.

However, it goes much further than that. It can change our relationship with loved ones for the positive, improving our patience and priming us for greater understanding, compassion, and loving-kindness.

Years ago, mindfulness and meditation practice changed my life in real and significant ways and it continues to do so today (some of which are associated with what I mentioned above).

The words below might seem like simply enjoyable blurbs either confirming your life's experiences or beliefs or insightful reading which can open your mind to a new idea. And they are exactly that.

Free Guided Meditations for Greater Peace and Clarity

Free Guided Meditations

Sometimes, I wonder what the Buddha would have thought about guided meditations.

I think he would have approved of them as useful tools for the beginner learning the ways of meditation, or even for someone experienced that's simply going through a difficult challenge and needs a voice to guide them to a place of greater calmness and clarity of mind.

In any case, more than anything else, it matters what you think. What you feel. What works for you. And that's why I, and why so many others, enjoy guided meditations.

Guided meditations are more than just words on a page (as much as I enjoy writing). The sound of the teacher or speaker in your ear guiding you through the meditation is the closest thing to having a real teacher right there with you as you can get without actually having one there.

My podcast, Zen for Everyday Life, features two weekly episodes. One is a talk discussing similar topics like those I discuss on the blog. The second is a free guided meditation on everything from classic mindfulness meditation forms such as the Zen form of zazen, to loving-kindness, to Thich Nhat Hanh's practice of Going Home, as well as new and unique free guided meditations that I've created such as Healing Through Understanding and Just Being.

Below is a neatly compiled list of the best free guided meditations from the Zen for Everyday Life podcast. Check back here regularly for new guided meditations.

Free Guided Meditations for Greater Peace and Clarity

*Click the corresponding link to go to the guided meditation page. Right click the big yellow download button and click "Save file as..." to download the file to your computer or simply hit Play to listen on the page.

  1. Breath As Life - The basic mindfulness practice of mindful breathing. This is a 1-click free download separate from the podcast. Nothing, not even an email, is required to download this. All you need to do is click the link. Enjoy.
  2. Going Home - This guided mindfulness meditation is on Thich Nhat Hanh's classic mindful breathing practice. This is the simplest of practices and is really what mindful breathing is all about- going home to yourself with mindfulness.
  3. Zazen (Zen sitting meditation) - This a guided meditation for the classic Zen form of mindfulness meditation. It's basically mindful breathing in a very free manner (as opposed to Vipassana, which is more active).
  4. Minful Refresh - This is a guided morning meditation for starting your day off fresh each day with a simple mindfulness practice. This, to date, is one of the most popular guided meditations I've done and a personal favorite.
  5. Just Being - Just Being is very close to the Zen practice of "just sitting" or shikantaza. It's the practice of accepting everything openly as it is with mindfulness and just being in this moment. Another community + personal favorite.
  6. Healing Through Understanding - This is a very active guided meditation and it's all about opening the mind after a difficult conflict with another person.
  7. A Mindful WelcomeA Mindful Welcome is about the fundamental shift from “hostile enemy” to “welcoming friend” we must make to begin the path of healing emotionally.
  8. Mindful Wisdom (@42:16 in the episode)- Mindful Wisdom is a moment-to-moment mindfulness and contemplative practice I created for unlocking your own intuitive wisdom. What would the Buddha do?
  9. Mindfulness of Body (@40:10 in the episode) - The traditional mindfulness of body meditation.
  10. Loving-Kindness - Loving-kindness meditation is the traditional Buddhist meditation practice of cultivating positive feelings and well-wishes for all beings.
  11. Mindful Walking / Walking Meditation (Formal Practice) - The formal practice of walking meditation typically done immediately following a session of sitting meditation in many Buddhist circles.
  12. Mindful Cleaning - A powerful mindfulness practice that takes a typically boring and mundane activity and turns it into something nourishing and delightful.
  13. Mindful Driving - A powerful mindfulness practice for turning a typically mindless autopilot activity into an opportunity for peace and mindfulness. 
  14. Mindful Breathing (Basic Mindfulness Meditation) - The fundamental practice of mindful breathing. When you hear “mindfulness meditation” (which typically refers to the secular practice of mindfulness) this is the practice that’s being referred to.
  15. Mindful Walking (Informal Everyday Practice) - The “everyday” informal practice of mindful walking. 
  16. Mindful Eating - If you’re looking for a way to live your everyday life more mindfully and even meditatively, this is a great practice which serves as one of the core mindfulness exercises.
  17. Being in Your Meditation Space - A special guided meditation from my course Meditation for Everyday Life which is designed to help you "settle" into your designated meditation space and cultivate it into a place of solace.
  18. Mindful Smiling - This guided meditation is all about using the power of intention and the natural effect of smiling with mindfulness.
  19. Rise with the Sun (a Guided Morning Meditation) - Rise with the Sun is about taking inventory before the day gets started so that you’re on solid ground and can handle the challenges of your day with more poise and clarity.

And remember to subscribe to the Zen for Everyday Life podcast for new weekly talks & guided meditations:

20 Mindful Eating Tips That Will Transform Your Relationship with Food

20 Mindful Eating Tips

Every day, we lose ourselves in the patterns of daily life. Our habit energy pushes and pulls us to and fro and we're left with little opportunity for experiencing life in a way that we're fully present for this very moment.

Some daily activities lend themselves more to this state of autopilot than others. There are some things in our life which we do so often that we become like drones, doing them in a mindless and habitual manner day in and day out. Those activities include walking, driving, certain types of work, as well as eating (among others).

But these activities also lend themselves to mindfulness practice because while these patterns are attractive to the pull of habit energy, they're also the perfect thing to grab onto when we want to become fully present to our lives in any given moment.

Mindfulness is both the quality and the practice of becoming (and staying) fully present to our lives in this very moment. It's mindfulness which allows us to break these habitual patterns and make a change for a more present and wakeful life.

Eating perhaps lends itself to mindfulness practice more than any other activity. This is because we find the flavors we experience when we eat often both interesting and varied and the act of eating enjoyable. And so it's through the simple practice of mindful eating that we can become more awake to our lives and discover greater peace and joy in the process.

We can also, at times, develop bad habits in connection with food and the act of eating. These bad habits, some even considered disorders, can cause us a lot of suffering.

The practice of mindful eating can shine a light on our habitual patterns connected with eating and food itself. And in doing so, we can relieve much of the suffering we experience connected with the food on our plate.

The practice of mindful eating is simple. To eat mindfully, simply:

  1. Pause- Take a moment before eating to notice the aroma, visual appeal, and even texture of the food. Savor the various sensations which accompany your meal. This short moment will help your awareness open up so that you become more fully present to the act of eating.
  2. Eat mindfully- Be mindful of the lifting of your hand/fork/spoon and the act of chewing the food itself. Pay close attention to each flavor in your mouth and notice how the food feels and smells as you eat it. As your primary point of (light) concentration during mindful eating, be fully present for the act of chewing.
  3. Acknowledge thoughts, feelings, and sensations- When thoughts, feelings, or other sensations arise within your field of awareness, simply be mindful of them, acknowledging their presence, and then allow them to pass as if they were floating by on a cloud.
  4. Eat mindfully (again)- Then, bring your focus back to the act of chewing. You'll lose your mindfulness constantly in the beginning. Don't worry, this is normal for any form of mindfulness practice. Simply repeat the process from steps 2-4 and attempt to eat mindfully for as much of your meal as possible.

While eating with mindfulness remain open to any thought, feeling, or sensation that comes into your field of awareness and don’t attempt to push them away. Accept whatever arises openly and then bring your focus back.

The practice of mindful eating is simple, but there are many little tips and tricks you can take advantage of to help improve your ability to eat mindfully and to take your mindfulness practice further. Here are 20 mindful eating tips:

20 Mindful Eating Tips That Will Transform Your Relationship with Food

1. Give thanks

Many of us grew up in families (or knew someone who did) who prayed or gave thanks before meals, so this is one you're likely familiar with.

But whether or not you've ever done it yourself, you can take a cue from that and do your own little practice of gratitude at mealtime.

Just take a moment to appreciate the meal in front of you. Cultivate gratitude for it by thinking of the huge amount of work it must have taken to get all of the various ingredients together for you to enjoy this wonderful meal (really, when you think about it, it's pretty astonishing).

This practice isn't just good for your well-being, it helps you center your attention on the meal in front of you, so it's the perfect practice to start each meal off with.

2. Sit down

For some, this may sound obvious and a given. For others, this will be difficult!

Because mindfulness practice is about becoming fully present to our lives in the "now", in this case through the daily activity of eating, it's a bad idea to attempt to eat mindfully while being on the move walking (running?) or driving somewhere. Correction: it's not going to happen (at least successfully).

Part of mindfulness practice is about doing one thing at a time, so do yourself a favor and respect meal time. Sit down, relax, and become present to the meal in front of you.

3. Eat a little more slowly

There is a misconception that you have to do something slowly to do it with mindfulness.

That's not quite true, but it may be necessary at the beginning when you're just getting the hang of mindfulness practice. The reason for this is that to do something slowly helps us focus mentally on the activity at hand.

The more quickly we move the more difficult it is for our mind to keep up with our body, so slowing down is an increased opportunity for mindfulness.

4. Turn off the T.V. & Close your phone (and anything else)

At this point, this one should seem like a natural progression from the first few points.

We're trying to put our complete and undivided attention on the moment that we're eating- both on the act of eating and on whatever arises within that moment of eating- so any electronic devices within eyesight can serve as distractions from our mindfulness practice.

Turn off your T.V., close your phone, turn away or at least sit away from your desktop computer, and away from anything else that could potentially distract you while you're eating.

5. Put down your utensil

This is all about being fully present to each bite that you eat.

The way we usually eat, we take a bite and then immediately begin preparing another bite to eat as we're chewing the original bite. This is a subtle version of multi-tasking, a habit you're trying to undo with mindfulness practice.

What you'll notice very quickly, if you've just begun your mindfulness practice (or even if you've been practicing), is that we don't know how to properly focus on one activity. Some of the ways we multi-task are so subtle they're difficult to detect. Mindfulness practice begins to change that, albeit slowly.

The next time you eat, make it a point to be fully present for the bite in your mouth. Leave your utensil on the table and experience that bite fully with mindfulness.

6. Chew 30 times

In 5 Powerful Ways Mindful Eating Will Transform Your Relationship With Food, I talked about how Zen Buddhist monks and nuns chew each bite of food no less than 30 times:

They do this to help improve their practice of mindful eating, therein emphasizing the act of chewing, the focal point in mindful eating.

The way most of us eat, we chew just a few times and swallow what are still larger pieces. Not only do we throw down our meal quickly and not leave much time to be present or much less rest ourselves in peace and quiet, we're not very kind to our digestive systems.

By chewing each bite at least 30 times, we not only help promote mindfulness practice, but we're kinder to our body and our mind as a result.

When you first practice this it can be difficult to fight the impulse to swallow your food, but with practice, it will become easier. It's definitely worth making the effort.

7. Eat in silence

Aside from chewing each bite 30 times, Zen monastics also eat each meal in silence.

The reason for this is that silence itself, as blank and empty as it might seem when we think about it in our heads, in reality, is very nourishing.

Explaining why is difficult, but any form of activity, even a simple conversation, brings additional activity to the mind. And this activity, when constant and unrelenting as it so often is for us in our everyday lives, perpetuates a greater sense of chaos and confusion (however subtle).

This is OK for a time, but eventually, and regularly, we need a break. Silence allows us to go home to ourselves more easily, which is really what mindfulness allows us to do more than anything else. For this reason, it's the perfect complement to mindfulness practice.

8. Take a moment to breathe

From time to time, you can stop eating and take a moment to become mindful of your breath.

You can either simply be mindful of the quality of your breathing right now or take 3 purposefully deep and mindful breaths. If you're new to mindfulness practice, I'd suggest simply paying attention to the breath as it is.

This simple but powerful mindfulness practice will help recenter your focus as several minutes of doing the same thing can often lead to mindlessness and falling asleep (literally).

9. Switch hands

This might feel a little awkward, but by switching hands, you'll compel yourself to eat with greater mindfulness because of the extra work your brain needs to do to keep up.

This is a really simple mindful eating tip that can help you in the beginning of your mindful eating practice.

10. Be a food critic

This is one of my favorite mindful eating tips on this list and one that can completely put you into the right state of mind in an instant, so it's really helpful.

Act like you're a food critic (whether your meal is fine dining or leftovers) and eat slowly and carefully while paying attention to every little flavor that arises while eating. Pay attention to every little sensation you feel as a result of each individual bite.

Of course, stop short of the damming restaurant review. That won't be very helpful to you in your practice.

There's really nothing more to it than that. That simple state of mind can often be all you need to bring more mindfulness and attentiveness to meal time.

11. Notice certain cues

While eating, certain sensations will arise such as the feeling of hunger, satisfaction, fullness, and sometimes overfullness! Be particularly on the look out for these cues.

By doing this, you make it easier to notice the other things which arise while being mindful and that will further sharpen your mindfulness and concentration.

12. Turn your fork upside down

This is an easy tip which helps keep you present while eating. The idea is as simple as it sounds. There are two ways to eat:

  1. Fork pointing up - Scooping motion, no need for accuracy. Laziness possible.
  2. Fork pointing down - Stabbing motion, accuracy, and attention necessary. Laziness not possible, for the most part.

That says it all: eating with your fork pointing down, with a stabbing motion to pick up your food, is the way to go (most of the time, at least) as it helps keep you more attentive and present while eating. And that helps your practice of mindful eating.

13. Change your utensil

This is another simple mindful eating tip which helps for much the same reason that switching hands and pointing your fork down helps.

By now you may have noticed that while you can do anything mindfully, mindfulness is improved greatly when we create the right environment for us to concentrate on our point of focus (in the case of mindful eating, that being the act of chewing, tasting, etc.).

The idea is simple: use a different utensil that makes it a bit more difficult to eat. This can be a variety of things, but the easiest and most accessible options would be chopsticks and a smaller spoon/fork.

Personally, chopsticks are very accessible and really help to improve my ability to stay present while eating. And they can be used to eat most things, so I'd suggest trying this out.

Of course, if you grew up using chopsticks this might not be the case for you. So, keep that in mind.

14. Eat food that takes work

This is obviously not something you can always take advantage of, but when possible eat a meal or snack that takes work to eat such as seeded grapes, pistachios, or an orange.

That little bit of work to avoid the seed, break the shell, or peel and separate the orange can not only mix up the act of eating and create more variety but help keep you attentive naturally.

Plus, we're talking about eating more whole foods, which is always a good thing.

15. Have a mindful drink

As I mentioned earlier, some activities are better suited for mindfulness practice than others. Drinking is one of those activities. Particularly something very hot or cold.

You could make a regular practice of drinking a cup of tea or coffee each day mindfully before your breakfast or another meal. This is a highly nourishing practice in itself that also serves to make you more mindful before your meal, so it's a win-win.

You can read how to practice a simple mindfulness tea (or substitute) meditation here.

16. See giver, receiver, and gift

May we with all beings realize the emptiness of the three wheels- giver, receiver, and gift.

Certain Zen practitioners chant the above simple phrase before every meal. The idea is to remind themselves that their meal was a gift and to see the true nature of life itself in the meal. Specifically, the oneness of giver, receiver, and gift.

By repeating this simple phrase, you can perpetuate a subtle shift in the way that you see the world. The shift from giver, receiver, and gift being separate to them being one constantly connected, interrelated, and even same entity.

Like looking deeply into the food that you eat (#18), this point doesn't just enhance mealtime and make it a more nourishing activity, but it helps us bring more mindfulness to the activity at hand by focusing the mind.

17. Cooking the Buddha

As I mention in this and the next point, the practice of mindful eating can extend beyond just the eating of the food. Cooking the Buddha is about cooking and preparing your food mindfully so as to deepen your relationship with the food and emphasize mindfulness.

I originally wrote about this in my book, Zen for Everyday Life:

When you cook or prepare food, as you gather your ingredients, lay them out, cut them up, and put them wherever they need to go (a pot, pan, stove), be mindful of exactly what you’re doing in that very moment. You’re not cooking food to be eaten, you’re simply cooking the food, and you’re doing it with all of your being.

18. Look deeply into your meal

In 5 Powerful Ways Mindful Eating Will Transform Your Relationship With Food, I talked about contemplating on the true nature of the food you're eating:

We can take mindful eating one step further by contemplating on the nature of the food in front of us.

Like taking a magnifying glass to something, contemplating on the true nature of our food is the practice of looking deeply into each individual piece of food on our plate and seeing not only where it comes from but also what it’s made up of.

Looking, or seeing, deeply is a simple exercise made popular by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh which involves essentially picking an object, particularly a natural object such as a whole fruit, vegetable, or plant, and working backwards to the "origin" of the object and seeing all the countless factors or "ingredients" that allowed that piece of fruit to exist as it is in this moment.

This exercise can really deepen your experience with the food in front of you and turn each meal into a chance to nourish your well-being.

19. Change up what, or where, you eat

Another simple thing you can do is to simply change up what you eat, or where you eat, from time to time.

This is simple, but, changing up anything, from what you have for breakfast from cereal to fresh fruit to eating next to your bedroom window as opposed to your kitchen table, can help compel you to greater mindfulness.

This won't last forever, but often all you need is a little switch up to further promote your mindfulness practice and help make it more of a daily habit.

20. Designate a "mindful snack"

One thing I often talk about for those new to mindfulness practice is designating a single major everyday activity and focusing on that for a week or two (at least). Make it the one and only activity you place any focus on for that time.

The idea there is to develop mindfulness as a daily practice, and it works great in this case as well.

About 2 years ago I did this with watermelon juice. My wife makes incredible watermelon juice, so my sons and I would often request it- especially during the summer- to the point where we drank it every week. I decided that would be my "mindful food/snack" and so I simply focused on being mindful of that with regards to everything I ate and drank and nothing else (aside from my tea in the mornings).

That might sound like a weird thing to do this with, but I enjoyed it so much and the color and fragrance were so strong that when I drank it I'd naturally be compelled to some greater state of mindfulness, so I decided to use that to my advantage.

Preferably, do this with a snack you really enjoy and whose flavor and/or fragrance or visual appeal is strong so that it helps compel you to greater mindfulness. Do this for a week or two and you'll find yourself practicing mindful eating more often throughout each day. This is a powerful strategy and definitely one of my favorite mindful eating tips on this list.

It's Time to Eat (Mindfully)

No matter how you choose to bring the practice of mindful eating into your life, know that it's both highly nourishing and a simple and easy mindfulness practice to start with. And if you've practiced mindfulness for some time but just haven't given it a try yet? It's a powerful practice for bringing more mindfulness into your life.

I hope these 20 mindful eating tips help you not only live with more mindfulness but bring greater peace and happiness into your life as a result.

How to Create a Mindful Morning Routine

How to Design a Mindful Morning Routine via Buddhaimonia
"'Hardest of all is to practice the Way at home, second in the crowd, and third in the pagoda.' It is only in an active and demanding situation that mindfulness really becomes a challenge!"

- Thich Nhat Hanh

This week is "starting fresh" week on the Buddhaimonia blog and podcast, and with it come a few things you can use to start fresh not just in the New Year, but in any moment of your life.

Every moment is an opportunity to start fresh, to become fully awake to our lives in the present moment and let go of the past. In fact, to become fully awake to the present moment with mindfulness is itself to let go of the past.

In every moment that we're mindful, we've decided to live our lives most fully and have chosen freedom instead of the chains of the past. And this doesn't have to be something specific like a relationship or difficult challenge, it can be anything.

But that can be easier said than done when we have so many responsibilities. And if it's not responsibilities getting us, it's just plain forgetfulness with all the potential distractions that exist around us in each moment.

One of the most beautiful and powerful tools I've found for helping me live with more mindfulness has been my morning routine. And indeed, I'm not alone in seeing the power of the early morning, as morning routines and early rising, in general, have become an entire topic on their own in the past several years.

The morning is a special time for us to be with ourselves, reflect within ourselves, and simply be present to the peaceful silence of the morning.

I've talked before about being an early riser, morning routines, and morning rituals. I do indeed take my morning routine seriously and find it a very important part of my day (I wake up at 3 A.M. daily), but everyone is different. So know that when I talk about morning routines and creating a mindful morning, I don't mean anything specific except for waking up in the morning and being fully present for a few simple activities to start your day off on the right foot.

You don't have to wake up super early or do anything specific, you could simply decide to wake up 30 minutes earlier and what you do in those 30 minutes would be your mindful morning routine.

Whatever you do, do it with mindfulness, fully present for the peace and quiet of the morning and find solace in the silence. Silence can be a very nourishing and empowering experience.

How to Create a Mindful Morning Routine That Nourishes Your Mind and Jump Starts Your Life

So, where do we start? How do we begin to take advantage of the power of the early morning to help us live a more mindful and deeply nourishing life? Here are 4 steps to creating a mindful morning routine:

1. Get enough quality sleep (have a nourishing nightly ritual)

First thing's first- before anything you need to decide on a time to wake up and have your sleep schedule down pat. Even if you're just waking up a few minutes earlier than normal, without proper planning it not only won't work out but you'll be lacking sleep in the process, and that will affect the entire rest of your day.

Before you can wake up early, you need to make sure you're getting good sleep and have a regular set bedtime and nightly ritual. Without these things in place, your morning routine goes from being nourishing to just being a headache and totally unsustainable. You're falling asleep more than you're mindful and that just defeats the purpose.

In ZfEL podcast episode #4: How to Design a Nightly Ritual That Nourishes the Mind and Brings Rest to the Body, I talked about designing a nightly ritual, or routine, that helps you improve the quality of your sleep, nourish your mind, and deepen your mindfulness practice in the process.

This nightly routine is exactly what you need to help support your mindful morning routine, so I'd check out ZfEL episode #4 and begin by creating your nourishing nightly ritual.

2. Wake up (at least a little) earlier

This one might sound obvious, but it's the most difficult point on this list to do and something I'd be doing you a disservice by passing over, especially since I have a complete guide to helping you become an early riser.

Again, remember that this doesn't have to be anything crazy. Just because I wake up at 3 doesn't mean it's what you should do. I don't do it just because, I do it because of the circumstances of my life (3 crazy kiddos) and everyone's circumstances are different. So decide what time you'd like to shoot for and work on it in 30-minute increments.

I moved down in 30-minute increments personally, only adding another 30 minutes on every couple of months, so it can be a slow and very long-term process depending on your goal.

It actually took me some 2 years to go from 7:30 to 4, so don't think you're messing up if you're having a hard time all of a sudden waking up an hour earlier, I never tried to do such an intense jump.

In about 2 months I'll be releasing a new (short) eBook on creating a mindful morning routine from start to finish and it will include a brand new and updated version of my How to Become an Early Riser guide.

Until then, check out the original: How to Become an Early Riser: The 12 Techniques I Used to Go from Being a Night Owl to Waking up at 4 AM Daily.

This guide includes literally everything I used to go from staying up until 1-2 A.M. on most days to waking up at 4 A.M. Lots of great information and really everything you need to begin waking up a little earlier each day.

3. Decide on your morning rituals

So, how do we decide what's a part of our mindful morning routine?

A morning routine is really just a collection of activities, usually referred to as morning rituals, and they can be anything from meditation to arts and crafts to your daily work. Anything can be done with mindfulness, so really anything can be included here. But there are certain things we're shooting for.

As I mentioned, it's best to keep it simple here as anything overly complicated will be difficult to stick to. When it comes down to it, it should just be 2-4 simple activities you do each day, preferably activities that promote mindfulness (anything can be done mindfully as I mentioned, but some activities lend themselves to greater mindfulness).

What kinds of activities are those? In my article, 7 Morning Rituals That Will Change Your Life, I talked about 7 different morning rituals which I did or thoroughly tested in the past. Many of those I still do daily, although not necessarily in the morning. Here are some examples:

  1. Meditate
  2. Drink tea (or coffee) mindfully
  3. Keep a journal
  4. Mindful walking or running outside
  5. Do something creative (write, draw, paint, create)
  6. Create something / Passion project

For more examples, read 7 Morning Rituals That Will Change Your Life.

Remember, the main idea to keep in mind is the question, "what do I want to accomplish with my morning routine?" A mindful morning routine is about nourishing the mind and finding a quiet moment of peace through the practice of mindfulness. But of course, there's many ways to do this and a productive morning routine can bring many other benefits as well.

Know what you want and decide what you'll do with your mindful morning routine based on that.

4. Be mindful - Give your best effort

So, you've planned out your morning, gotten your nightly routine down and begun improving the quality of your sleep, and have started waking up earlier.

The only thing left is to give your best effort to sticking with your morning routine, which will no doubt take a bit of work at first, and make the effort to be mindful during this special time in your morning. That's the main idea here, to be mindful throughout this entire time you have in the morning to yourself.

If you're waking up 30 minutes early and you've decided to sit and meditate for 15 minutes and then walk mindfully outside for another 15, then you're goal is to be mindful in every moment from the moment you wake up to the moment your routine ends and you have to get ready for the day.

Of course, you're making your best effort here. Being mindful for 30 minutes straight will feel impossible, but you're just giving your best effort. A morning routine done mostly mindfully is hugely beneficial and not to be underestimated in the scope of the rest of your life.

A mindful morning routine such as this has far-reaching effects. It literally will help you jump-start your day, each and every day, and as a result- your entire life.

A few tips for making the most of your mindful morning routine:

  1. Move slowly- It's a misconception that you have to do something slowly to do it in mindfulness, but that's mostly because slow + mindful is a very nourishing combination. I'd suggest that whatever you do (for the most part) you do it slowly, paying close attention to each and every little action. Work, if you choose to do some of that in the morning, is an obvious example of something you wouldn't do more slowly so there are exceptions.
  2. Appreciate the silence- You could always appreciate some good music in the morning, but my suggestion would be to bask in the silence. Silence is a very nourishing experience and no time is better for that then in the morning. And silence is another great complement to mindfulness practice.
  3. Change it up- You don't literally have to do the same thing each and every morning. From time to time I've experimented with many different morning rituals, if for no reason other than to try them out. This can really help keep things fresh and that makes it easier for you to stay in mindfulness.

Remember that this time you have in the morning is your time to start fresh. Each and every morning is a moment, an opportunity, to start fresh and begin anew.

No matter what happened the previous day, month, or year you can put your best foot forward and walk mindfully, live mindfully, fully awake to the beauty of the present moment.

Additional resources

Depending on what you'd like to do with your own mindful morning routine, your morning will differ. Here are a few resources to help you get started with some of my favorite mindful morning rituals:

  1. Meditation - How to Meditate for Beginners
  2. Mindful walking (outside or inside, really can do either but outside is amazing in the morning) - The Beginners Guide to Walking Meditation
  3. Tea meditation (substitute your drink of choice, this can be done with anything) - How to Find Peace and De-Stress with a Simple Tea Meditation
  4. Other morning rituals - 7 Morning Rituals That Will Change Your Life

Mindful morning mantra

To close, here's mindful morning mantra for starting fresh each day and making the most of your mindful morning routine:

As I open my eyes,

I awaken to the beauty and freshness of this moment,

A whole new 24-hours has been given to me,

I will live it mindfully,

Appreciating deeply every moment of it.

Keep an eye out...

This week's podcast episodes are How to Make a Fresh Start in Every Moment with Mindfulness and the guided meditation for this week is Mindful Refresh: A Guided Morning Meditation. If you liked this article, be sure to check them out:

How to Make a Fresh Start in Every Moment with Mindfulness

Mindful Refresh: A Guided Morning Meditation

9 Essential Keys to Living More Fully and Freely in the Present Moment


It's now New Years as of the day I'm writing this, and throughout much of the world, people are making resolutions to change or improve some aspect of their life.

Most of us make simple resolutions like "eat healthy", "get in shape", or "get my finances in order". The fact that these goals lack any detail or a specific plan for accomplishment aside, the biggest problem with making resolutions or setting goals in this way is that they don't seek to handle the real issue from the source.

What is the real issue? It always originates from the mind. What that actually means varies from person to person, but it's always some form of resistance to the present moment- to reality and our life as it is. This doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't seek to change our physical (or outward) circumstances, but this does mean that before doing so we need to get our "mental house" in order. Without having done this, we're moving in the dark, never really knowing if we're taking one step forward, sideways, or backward (or if we really even care to move at all).

It's mindfulness practice and the ability to look deeply into our everyday experiences which allow us to see with clarity, and that clarity brings greater freedom and a sense of meaning where there was once a lack-there-of. That feeling of "voidness", of something being missing, disappears and we're left feeling whole and fulfilled doing and experiencing even the simplest of things.

Truthfully, I've found this to be the single most difficult effort I've ever made in my life. But, I've also benefitted more from dedicating myself to living more mindfully and fully in this moment, the present moment, than anything else in my life by far as well.

And the great thing is, we all have it in us. No matter who you are you can make an effort to live more mindfully, more fully in the present moment. And while it can be a difficult effort, the reality is you don't need to live 24 hours a day in mindfulness. Even living your life 5% or 10% more mindful will make a tremendous difference in your life in so many different ways.

Last week on the Zen for Everyday Life podcast, I talked about how to make mindfulness a way of life through my 7 keys for living more mindfully. Those are the keys I've found through my own practice and experimentation to be most critical in making a more mindful life a reality.

But there's more to living fully and freely in the present moment than just being mindful. When you become mindful you often come face-to-face with resistance and are still posed with certain critical questions and issues which can be hard to surmount. These issues will keep you from realizing the fullness and freedom which living mindfully can bring you.

To help with that here are 9 essential keys I've found to living more fully and freely in the present moment.

9 Essential Keys to Living More Fully and Freely in Everyday Life

Below you'll find what I've discovered to be 9 essential keys to living both with greater freedom as well as with greater meaning and fulfillment in everyday life.

These points vary widely and many are lifelong efforts, but they all have a simple and to-the-point quality to them which makes them easy to understand and begin to apply in your everyday life.

I hope these 9 essential keys help serve you in your effort to live a more free and meaningful life.


1. Open yourself fully to this moment

"The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is."

- Eckhart Tolle

Resistance is a principle I've talked about before on the blog. It's been described many ways before, but I prefer resistance because it gives you what I feel is an accurate visual of what the real effort, or thing happening, is in each moment.

We're resisting what is, to put it simply. There's really nothing more to it. But of course, that's hardly enough explanation to know how to actually apply this in your own life.

To better understand this and see clearly how you can apply it in your own life, I'll give some personal examples.

In episode number five of the Zen for Everyday Life podcastHow Mindfulness Helps Us Overcome Difficult Everyday Challenges, I talked about how before my first son was born I experienced paralyzing anxiety due to my money troubles.

Any time I'd think about my money troubles I'd go into a sort of shock and freeze up completely. This wasn't just stressful and a source of anxiety, but it was the most unproductive thing I could possibly do to actually get out of my situation in the first place.

It took some time, but after a while, I was able to step away from the issue and separate myself from it due to the clarity I had found through my meditation and mindfulness practice. At times, I still experienced challenges due to a lack of money, but it no longer affected me the way that it once did.

Ultimately, this was because my mindfulness practice didn't allow me to run from my issue. It forced me to face up to it and observe it more closely and at length. And after a while, that paralyzing and anxiety-causing quality to it just dropped away as I gained more and more clarity.

Another clear example from my own life is when I found out I was going to be a father...for the third time. I talked about it in Zen and the Art of Adapting to Life's Curveballs. That post stands as one of my personal favorites and a favorite of many of the Buddhaimonia community at the time it was published.

In the post, I talked about how I initially resisted the idea of being a father for the third time and found myself feeling resentment and anger towards the unborn child. Luckily, this is after I had been practicing for some time, and quickly shifted my mindset to one of appreciation, understanding, and love and welcomed the child with open arms.

Letting go of the resistance I had felt opened up a new possibility- that of this new child being a source of joy and meaning for me and my family (which my little girl absolutely became).

There are many ways this can manifest as the garden of our consciousness holds many seeds- seeds of anger, resentment, fear, jealousy, and more. But it all comes down to the same one thing- resistance to the present moment.

It will take time before you can spot this resistance yourself, but over time, you'll be able to see it more clearly. Furthermore, with dedication to your practice, you'll begin to let go of it and live with greater peace and freedom.


2.  Live harmoniously

“As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the color & fragrance of the flower; so do the wise move through the world.”

- Buddha

Mindfulness gives us unrivaled access to our own thoughts, words, and actions and the intentions which lie hidden beneath them. Because of this, with time, we can begin to see that what we think, say, and do has a real effect on not just ourselves but the word around us.

This can mean many things, but it all comes down to one central idea: to live harmoniously with the world around us. Whether that's with other people, animals, plants, or the Earth and life itself in a general sense, to live harmoniously with these various parts of life is to water seeds of peace, freedom, and meaning within ourselves.

This is something I've found has come about as a natural byproduct of my practice combined with opening myself up to the natural world, two things which go together like peanut butter and jelly (and I really like peanut butter and jelly).

But don't make the mistake of thinking that this is restricted to what we call nature and nothing else. Try not to draw imaginary lines, or at least, notice where you have drawn them.

Nature, people, animals, thoughts, words, actions- everything is connected. To live harmoniously is to live in a way that you don't disturb the natural order of things. Much is included within that, but if you remember that basic tenet it's easy to keep from being led astray.

To keep this natural order is to keep the peace, both within your mind and in the world outside. This point runs pretty deep, but for now, I think it's important to leave it at that.


3. Stop searching for meaning outside yourself

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

- Alan Watts

There's a deep current that runs throughout this world, but most of us have become unconnected to it. That current is love, but unfortunately, most of us have floated off into a place of fear, lack, or as I often refer to it: the feeling that "something" is missing.

We search for meaning outside ourselves in many different ways:

  • We seek to feel "complete" through intimate relationships.
  • We seek to feel fulfilled through big accomplishments.
  • We seek to feel loved through sex.
  • And we seek to feel content through harmful, unhealthy, or generally neutral repetitive activities (this takes shape in many ways).

Whatever it is, it's all towards the same purpose of making ourselves feel "full", to fill that sense of voidness within us and, unknowingly, get back to the current of love. Unfortunately, most of us go about it the wrong way and end up hurting ourselves more than anything else.

To make this a reality, more is necessary than just mindfulness, although mindfulness can help us to cultivate positive qualities such as compassion and understanding, the foundations of love.

Stop searching for meaning outside of yourself. Stop thinking you need something outside of yourself, even "the one" (for the record, I believe an intimate relationship can be very nourishing and a beautiful addition to life. Something to look forward to for sure, but like so many other enjoyable things, in no way necessary for peace or happiness).

Along with your mindfulness practice, the resources below can help you to begin cultivating more understanding, compassion, and finally love in your life:

  1. Cultivating compassion and understanding: Healing Through Understanding: How a Simple Meditation Can Transform Your Mind and How You Relate to Others
  2. Culivating love: How to Practice Loving-Kindness Meditation
  3. Understanding the power of love: Love is the Way: The Universal Path to Peace, Happiness, and Enlightenment
  4. Seeing through the illusion of intimate love: 3 Ways Intimate Love Keeps Us from Peace and Happiness and How to Transcend Through Self-Love

When you begin to work on this, you'll find that this empty feeling you had was never really there. You were full along, you had just lost the current.


4. Shift from "me" to "us"

"Only keep the question, 'What is the best way of helping other people?'"

- Seung Sahn

This isn't an easy effort for anyone, but some cultures have an easier time with this than others. It just so happens, if you live in the West, this is particularly more difficult.

In the West, more so than in some parts of the East, the ego is a stamp of our individuality, without which we'd wither away and become like drones. But this is a misunderstanding more than anything else.

The shift from "me" to "us" coincides with the shift from fear (or lack) to love in the last point. It's an altogether opening up of our state of mind to a place where all things are precious and beautiful and equal.

It doesn't mean we lose ourselves or our sense of identity, it simply means we gain a clearer understanding. A clearer understanding of our interconnectedness and interbeing nature.

Our mindfulness practice helps us begin to make this shift, most particularly the practice of deep sitting meditation, as do certain exercises which the Buddha suggested in his many talks, among those the practice of loving-kindness meditation which I linked to in the last point.


5. See your interbeing nature

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”

- Thich Nhat Hanh

Moving on from the last point, realizing the interbeing nature of all things is about the same idea of "awakening from our illusion of separateness" as Thich Nhat Hanh refers to it in the quote above.

You can practice this simply and easily within your everyday life (it's one of my personal favorite exercises). Specifically, through Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh's practice of looking deeply. Here's how to practice it:

  1. Pick an object. This could be a flower, tree, a piece of food, or even a person (although that's a bit of an advanced form of the practice). Whatever it is, pick one object and focus on that.
  2. Work backwards. Take a flower for instance. Start with where you got it- the store, flower shop, outside in your garden, at the park or wherever. Then imagine, or find out if you don’t know, how it got to the flower shop, how it was transported, how it was maintained for freshness, how it was cared for and picked, and how it grew from a seed in the ground into a flower. Lastly, think about the soil and all the things that make up the soil that would eventually provide the seed the nutrients to grow into the flower as it sits in front of you now.
  3. Realize interbeing. Lastly, think of how if you were to take away even one of those elements: the grower, the garden, the soil, the seed, or the facility that packaged and delivered it, the flower would cease to exist.

This is a simple and easy meditation which you can do on just about anything, you just may have to stop to do a little searching to find out exactly where that thing comes from. But that can be an exciting and insightful exercise in itself (and something easily done nowadays with the internet).

After practicing this a few times on a few different objects, do this on yourself and see the many different conditions which you do and have depended on to exist as you are today and see that even we don't escape this great truth of impermanence.


6. Don't waste this life - Realize the impermanent nature of all things

“Great is the matter of birth and death. All is impermanent, quickly passing. Wake up! Wake up, each one! Don’t waste this life.”

- Dogen Zenji

The above quote from Zen master Dogen clearly exemplifies the importance of this point. Because of the impermanent nature of all things, we, as well as everything around us has a finite amount of time available to us in this life.

It's because of this that we shouldn't waste a single moment of it. To be mindful, fully present for this moment is to be fully alive and making the most of each moment available to us. This is the power of mindfulness. The power to truly live fully in each moment.

With mindfulness and the practice of looking deeply (see the last point), we can see into the impermanent nature of things and cultivate a sense of gratitude and appreciation for our lives and the little moments.

Smelling a flower, touching a tree, being with a loved one. In each of these moments, we can see clearly the impermanent nature of all things- both the moment and the things- and fully appreciate it for all its beauty. Get out there and live mindfully and more deeply and cultivate that sense of appreciation for yourself.


7. Decide what's important to you, simplify your life, and give yourself to those things

"Since there is never a time when worldly activities come to an end, limit your activities."

- Atisa

You can only give your time and attention to so many things. As I mentioned in the last point, we have a finite amount of time in this life and in each individual moment, so you need to:

  1. Decide what's important to you
  2. Simplify your life (cut down on the nonessentials)
  3. And give yourself to those important things

It's only in doing this that you'll be able to live a full life, one where you felt that you gave it your all and attained the peace you were searching for.

Simplicity may only be a container- the practice of mindful living, looking and seeing deeply, and cultivating love being the contents- but without the container, we'd have no effective capacity to create the right environment for peace and freedom to arise in the first place.

This can be something as simple as cutting down on your physical possessions, which have the ability to crowd our life and distract us. But more importantly, it includes things such as limiting your commitments and responsibilities, both of which crowd our mental activity.

For more information on how to make this a reality, see ZfEL podcast episode #5: How to Cleanse the Mind and Create an Environment Conducive to Greater Peace and Freedom.


8. Be fully of this moment

"Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.”

- Shunryu Suzuki

Shunryu Suzuki has two of my favorite quotes pertaining to this point, the second is this:

"You should not have any remains after you do something. But this does not mean to forget all about it. In order not to leave any traces, when you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind; you should be concentrated on what you do. You should do it completely, like a good bonfire.

You should not be a smoky fire. You should burn yourself completely. If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself will be left in what you do."

To be fully of this moment means to give your full being to this moment. It means you leave nothing on the table, reserve no part of yourself, hold nothing back and regret nothing. You act as one unstoppable force in that moment.

The way most of us live our lives, we're usually doing something now in preparation for something later. In each moment, we're more concentrated on the next moment than we are the present moment. Because of this, in a very real way we're never fully present to our lives and almost always living in our heads half asleep.

To live mindfully, deeply, fully engaged in this moment is to let go of the future and be fully of this moment- the present moment.

It doesn't necessarily mean you cease planning for the future, as some planning is necessary. How would a monk or nun get anything done at a monastery (and there's a lot to get done) if he or she never planned anything? So some degree of planning is necessary, but the focus should be on living fully in the present moment.

The most important things to pay attention to are fear of the future and aversion to the present. Fear of the future makes us either focus constantly on planning for the future and avoiding the present or mindlessly distracting ourselves and doing neither. Aversion to the present makes us hate being present and rather constantly planning to improve things or daydreaming in the future.

This can take time as future moments are always trying to pull us along. But with practice, we can begin to more clearly see when we're acting mindfully and when we're just eating our future plans.


9.  Know that the sacred is ordinary, the ordinary is sacred

"If you live the sacred and despise the ordinary, you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion.”

- Linji Yixuan

I left this point for last because I feel that it's one of the most important points on this list.

So many search for meaning and purpose through a type of spiritual practice which is so far removed from their everyday lives that they begin to feel as though their daily lives are empty and devoid of any real meaning and that it's only through their separate practice in which they can be "filled up".

Unfortunately, this is just another form of confusion. To live in this way is to be utterly confused about what life, reality, and spirituality (all of the above) is and is about.

This is unfortunate because a true understanding leads to seeing clearly that everything in this world is precious and beautiful. This misunderstanding keeps you from experiencing the beauty that exists all around you at all times.

And in many cases, it keeps you from realizing the interbeing nature of all things, which despite a supposedly deep spiritual practice keeps us acting hostile and defensive towards the world around us. The opposite of what's necessary for peace to occur.

Also unfortunate is that while I can clearly convey the importance of realizing this point, I can't tell you anything that will help you realize it immediately. That's because it must be experienced first-hand, through a daily practice of mindfulness and deep looking.

You need to dedicate yourself to living deeply and mindfully in each and every moment. And even if you fail at this 95% of the time, that 5% where you're successful will radically transform your everyday experiences and cultivate a greater sense of peace, freedom, and meaning in your life for as long as you continue to practice.

So my best advice? Get out there and live mindfully. Look deeply into your everyday experiences. Into the flowers outside your window, into the food that you eat, and into the people you meet.

Make this a priority in your life and give your best effort. It may take time, but it will be enough.

For more information on making mindfulness a way of life, check out ZfEL podcast episode #6: How to Make Mindfulness a Way of Life: 7 Keys to Living a More Mindful Life.

And for a complete guide to both making mindfulness a way of life as well as looking deeply, my first full-length book Zen for Everyday Life is available for purchase here.

This Moment: How to Live Fully and Freely in the Present Moment

This post covered many of the central points of my latest book, This Moment, and I couldn't be more excited to bring it to you

Living simply, mindfully, naturally, and with great love. Those are the 4 core principles of the book and they together cover what I believe to be the most important efforts in life.

Whether it's peace, happiness, freedom, or meaning, these 4 principles, and the many sub-topics within them, encompass a complete moment-to-moment guide to living a deeply nourishing, easeful, and joy-filled life even amidst the most difficult everyday challenges.

To get more information and purchase a copy, click below: