Simple Tips for Staying Mindful
“Mindfulness” is blowing up as the new hot word among neo-spiritual, new age, western, hippy, yuppy, yogi, meditators. In spite of its trendiness, mindfulness is truly such a valuable practice. One who is mindful strives to be aware of the habitual nature of the mind. One who is mindful has the desire to deepen the understanding of ones own mind.
The practices of mindfulness need to be embodied and remembered in all situations. Of course, we will rarely maintain perfect and consistent awareness through all the ups and downs but we can try. A saying that captures this point is “two steps forward and one step back…”
Mindfulness might begin with body/breath awareness at drop-in yoga and then evolve into big life shifts and transformations. Creating change is an arduous task and on some days, running to the hills screaming seems a better option. On those days when staying on the path of change and mindfulness feels challenging, consider the following ways to practice being in the moment …(remembering “two steps forward and one step back…”):
– Sit or lie still whenever possible in a chair/car/office/floor at home. Begin with 5 minutes and focus on your breath.
– Journal about the cycles and stages you have been though in life and where you are now. Write about past lessons and how you would like to feel in the future.
– Stop and take a deep breath before speaking. Speak from the heart.
– Listen to meditations online or at local events. Get a friend to join you.
– Travel. Get a sense of what and who is out there in this big world and learn about the diversity of life.
– Ask friends and mentors for support and advice. Often a counselor or a therapist can provide incredible and unbiased insights into the ‘stories’ we tell.
– Wear jewelry that reminds you of your teachers and guides.
– Go to yoga, go for a run, enjoy tai chi or go for a swim: do anything that gets your blood flowing and nourishes your deserving body (use a self-care or self-love mantra during these activities!). If we want to become more aware and more awake, the body needs our attention first and foremost. Clear out the tensions in the body and you will observe shifts in mental tension and stress as well.
– Write meaningful quotes around your house or office that remind you of what is important. The mind needs to be trained into remembering affirmations and mantra in this manner (eg: may I feel peace, may I feel free from pain).
– Walk nowhere, for no reason. Be mindful by taking in all the sights and sounds.
Basically everything turns into a practice of mindfulness and we are all capable of changing our repetitive thoughts and behaviours. Start with clear and therapeutic activities (like the ones mentioned above) and when they become second nature, branch out into practices like: spending a weekend with your parents and remembering (with deep breaths) that we are all connected and we are all growing, or tell your poor toe how much you love it when you accidentally stub it while rushing to cross the street. The practices will grow more subtle and more quiet in the strangest of places.
As you endure the various unfoldings into more awareness and more centeredness, avoid labeling it or judging/congratulating yourself. The real nectar is in how you feel. May we all feel more present, more patient, more kind, more mindful… towards ourselves and others.