Practicing mindfulness is not the easiest thing to do especially since most of us are living in a rush, always planning for the next thing ahead. Very rarely, we allow ourselves to just be still, in the moment, with no thoughts of the past or pressure of the future. It’s not our fault, in a way society has convinced us that this is the most effective way of living, and indeed sometimes things move quickly in life. But it’s important to take time for yourself, to acknowledge your existence and to connect with your physical, mental and emotional self in order to gain more balance and grounding in your life.
FOCUS ON YOUR BREATH
How often have you given yourself some space to just focus on your breathing? After all, it is what keeps us alive, yet we take it for granted, paying very little attention to it. Our breath directs everything and the rhythm of it indicates your current state in life. If your breath is shallow and fast, in this moment you may feel anxious, stressed and your life may be moving very quickly. If it is slow, balanced and steady, it can indicate a feeling a peacefulness and calm. Allow yourself some short daily breaks, in which you just sit still with your breath and assess what is going on within you. Breathe in deeply through your nose and exhale through the mouth, allowing yourself to experience each inhale as a new moment and every exhale the opportunity to let go. This will help you bring it to a steady pace, bringing a state of tranquillity to your whole self, the mind, body and soul.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
Our lifestyle has become so fast paced, that we have learnt to multitask very well. Indeed this is a good skill to have, but it doesn’t always benefit your overall well-being. Throughout your day, whilst you are in the midst of an activity, just stop for a moment and acknowledge what you are actually doing in the present moment. If you are replying to an email, stop for a moment, take a deep breath and bring your attention completely to the fact that in this moment, you are typing an email, letting go of any other thoughts for the next activity you will take part in. If you are having dinner with friends, take a moment to just look around you, acknowledge each person taking part in this experience with you and all that is happening in this present moment. Learn to savour each moment, letting go of any other distractions. Bringing your attention in the now teaches you to surrender to this moment, without having to go ahead and think of anything else. Things can change in a second in life, so to truly live every moment we have, we must actually allow ourselves to really be in it and experience it fully.
The practice of meditation itself includes both of the above points, because ultimately meditation is about being still, in this moment, completely letting go of any thoughts, feelings and actions. It sounds complicated, but we all practice it at some point without actually knowing we are doing it. Take 10 or 15 minutes every day (usually first thing in the morning or evening before you go to sleep is the best). Get yourself in a comfortable sitting position, keeping your back straight or you can lie down. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths, inhaling through the nose, hold for 2 seconds and then exhale through the mouth, completely emptying the lungs. This will bring your body in a state of complete relaxation. After your breathing exercise and with your eyes closed, perform a full mental body scan. Go through each part of your body, starting with the feet and finish with the whole head and mentally look at all parts without judgement; just acknowledge how your body is feeling in this moment. Being aware of your breath, just sink in deeper and let yourself relax. If you have thoughts coming to your mind, let them be, they will go away. Follow the flow of your breath, knowing that with each inhale you are bringing fresh new supply of oxygen into your body and with every exhale you let go of anything that you need to release. Perhaps this will be challenging for the first few times, but the more you practice this, the more you will learn to enjoy it and savour this moment. After you have reached a centred, balanced self, if you are lying down you can turn to your right side of the body and just stay there for about a minute and then come to a comfortable sitting position and open your eyes. If you have been sitting, you can just gently open your eyes. And when you decide it’s time to get up, do so in a gentle way, allowing yourself the time you need to do so.
Very often, the yoga students attending my classes tell me that they don’t have the time to meditate and my response is always the same: Learn to give yourself the respect to honour your body and your existence on this planet, and this means that you must focus on you first before you get on with others.