Get more joy, stress less, stay grounded...just be here
Do you ever feel like your life is flying by and you hardly notice it?
That was me a few years ago. One day, I had a sudden realization that my life was moving so fast, I was so busy and so distracted by my work, that I was hardly noticing what was going on around me, hardly hearing what people were saying to me. I was living in my head, and not fully in the world. Does this sound familiar to you?
I somehow knew that I needed to be MORE AWARE of what was happening, to tune into myself and my world. I needed to slow down and to notice more.
I didn't know what mindfulness was at that time, but I instinctively knew that mindfulness was what I needed to make my life more meaningful and joyful. And less stressful.
I’ve learned a lot about mindfulness since then. In fact mindfulness was one of the first things I got curious about when I got interested in yoga and meditation. I read books, I went to workshops and retreats, I practiced and practiced. I took mindfulness yoga teacher training (Bodhi Yoga School). Mindfulness practices have changed the way I see the world, changed the way I live my life. They have transformed the way I deal with the challenges that come my way, unleashed my creativity, given me a much deeper sense of purpose, and helped me to find more serenity and happiness in my life. I not longer feel like my life is simply flying by - I notice it, I feel it. I AM HERE.
And mindfulness practice can do the same for you. It’s a very powerful tool.
Mindfulness is paying attention to all of our experiences (inward and outward), in the present moment, with kindness, curiosity, and without judgement. This involves acceptance - we pay attention to our body sensations, thoughts, feelings and experiences without believing they are right or wrong, good or bad. They just ARE.
By paying attention and tuning into the present moment, we can develop a better sense of awareness of what is happening in our own minds (i.e. our perceptions, thought patterns, reactions) as well as a better understanding and connection to the world around us. This helps us to SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY, and to transform the way we think, feel and act.
By training yourself to be more mindful, by living moment to moment instead of ruminating on the past or worrying about the future, you can rediscover a sense of peace, more happiness, more enjoyment in your life. It helps you gain greater resilience, steadiness and self-confidence as you face your daily challenges.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness. It’s not complicated at all. It’s simply a question of closely observing something specific. I found that awakening and paying attention to all five of your senses is a wonderful way to ground yourself in the present moment and to stay focused.
Try any or all of the following easy and fun things to do, they all help to be more mindful by building awareness and capacity to remain grounded in the present moment.
1. Explore a painting
Plan a visit to your local art museum. But instead of trying to see the entire collection, choose just one painting to explore in depth. You could plan in advance if there’s something you are interested in, or ask for a suggestion when you arrive. Find that painting, and sit or stand in front of it for at least 20 minutes. And really look closely, observe all the elements of the painting, such as the following:
And then notice how you feel looking at this painting with such close attention. No expectations, no judgement, just notice.
2. Cook a vibrant dish
Cooking can be an excellent exercise in mindfulness, and it awakens all of your senses. Paying attention to your senses is a fantastic way to stay grounded in the present moment.
Take some time to cook a meal for lunch or dinner, one that you love or one that you would like to try. Gather all the ingredients and utensils you need in one place. And then proceed with your recipe. The difference this time is that you are going to work slowly and mindfully, paying close attention to all of the sensations you experience. Like this:
3. Get into the garden
The life of a garden is a great way to tune into your senses and practice being in the present moment, even if you are not a gardener. Here are some things you can do to build your awareness while sitting or working in a garden.
4. Hunt for treasure
There’s something quite satisfying about searching for and finding “treasures”, whatever your treasure may be. I like to walk on the beach and hunt for shells or specifically shaped stones. Every beach holds different treasures and the fun is in the discovery of something new. Maybe you like to pick wild flowers in the spring, gather pine cones or beautiful leaves to press in a book in the fall. It doesn’t really matter what, it’s about the search for it.
So decide what you’d like to collect and find a place to do it. Give your full attention to the hunt, really looking for the object you are collecting. And you will be amazed at what you notice along the way.
Create a little unexpected adventure for yourself. Go for a wander, alone, amble and explore for a few hours. Where? It doesn’t matter, anywhere, a new part of town, a forest, a park, a beach, your own neighbourhood…
6. Make your yoga more mindful
Our yoga practice is a perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness in action by developing an awareness of our mind, breath, and body. This awareness allows us to explore each pose gently and in-depth, as though we are experiencing them from the inside out.
It's important to know that mindfulness yoga is not a specific style, it's an approach and an attitude. So any style of yoga can be transformed into mindfulness yoga.
7. Turn your home practice into a sensorial experience
In my quest to build a sustainable and beneficial home practice, I found that harnessing the power of my senses helps me to create a practice that is memorable, personal, creative, inspiring, delightful, enjoyable.
I also found that awakening and paying attention to all five of my senses helps me stay focused on the practice, in the moment. Each pose, each meditation, each gesture becomes an exercise in mindfulness
So I invite you to think differently. Unleash your imagination and create your own practice that is personal, present, investigative, delightful, inspiration, warm, inviting, emotional. I invite you to intentionally create a practice that awakens and appeals to all five of your senses. Just notice - be mindful of your 5 senses, focus on one after the other.
Just be here.
For more information about mindfulness have a look at this 2 part series:
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