Try and remember the last time you were really present. 100% in-the-moment. Perhaps it was a blissful moment playing with your child. Maybe it was a few minutes during a run in the park or a flow on your yoga mat. It could have been while you were lovingly preparing dinner for your family, or simply sitting the train watching the world go by.
That, my friends, is what we call mindfulness.
The practice of mindfulness is a way of recognising the joy and happiness that surrounds us in our everyday lives. To experience this, we must be fully present and avoid focusing our thoughts on the past or in future — basically the moments that no longer exist (also known as memorising or futurising, as my teacher Norman Blair calls it).
While it’s impossible to completely block out thoughts and emotions, the practice of mindfulness invites us to be fully present with how we are feeling while training our “monkey mind” by focusing on one thing, and one thing only — Judith Lasater calls this Uni-Tasking.
Practicing mindfulness is not always easy (it’s called a practice for a reason!), but here are some of my favourite, very simple steps to becoming more mindful in your daily life:
Bring awareness to your breathing
This isn’t something that’s reserved for your yoga mat or sat in meditation. You can incorporate mindfulness of the breath in your daily life, whether you’re standing in line at the grocery store or sitting on the bus.
When you breathe, bring your awareness to your inhale and your exhale. Fully experience what it feels like to fill your lungs with oxygen, and pay close attention to the sensation of breathing out. Eventually, once observing your breath becomes easier and more natural, you may notice that you start bringing that same quality of awareness to your body, your feelings, your mind, your environment and those around you.
Focus on one thing (with intention)
Pick a thing. Anything. Then focus on it. It could be a beautiful flower, a cloud or a sunset. Perhaps it’s your child playing in the grass, or water flowing in a river. Notice how that object makes you feel. Does it trigger an emotional response? Take time to on that experience. TOP TIP: Keep your phone far, far away — or on Airplane Mode!
The next time you sit at the dinner table (not in front of the television or at your desk), eat slowly and in a considered way, paying close attention to the movement of your mouth, teeth, and tongue, really observing the texture of your food — how it feels, tastes, smells, sounds. Observe how the flavours evolve over time, and even what feelings those flavours evoke. Nostalgia? Joy? Disgust? Guilt? Be present with every bite, and do your best to chew your food until it’s nearly liquid, about 20 chews. As the famous saying goes, “Chew your drink, and drink your food.”
Silence is a rare gift these days, which is why it’s more important than ever to enjoy moments of silence. Practice this by spending a set amount of time in complete silence — perhaps start with 20 minutes and build up to an hour. Avoid speaking to anyone, even to yourself! Turn off your phone and all other electronic items. TOP TIP: If you’re living in a noisy city, ear plugs can really help!
I hope these simple tips help you on your journey through your personal mindfulness practice. Have you tried any of these tips? And what are your favourite mindfulness tips? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
With love and light,
I began practicing yoga in my early 20s, alongside studying various healing modalities. As my yoga practice evolved, it became a fundamental part of solving my inner puzzle. I journeyed to Northern India and trained with Sivananda Yoga Vedanta in traditional Hatha yoga practices. My practice of yoga and meditation continued to evolve as I qualified to teach Yin yoga, Restorative yoga and Yoga for Children and Teens. I thrive on expanding my knowledge and surround myself with inspiring teachers to enhance my own practice and teaching.
As a size 14 yoga body, it’s been important to enable and inspire my students to find their own expression of the postures while working safely within their unique body. I’m passionate that yoga is for everybody, and so ensure all my classes are inclusive and motivating for all shapes & ages.
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