Mindfully mastering the moment
“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” ― Henry Miller
Mindfulness has become a goalpost of our stressful, fast-paced, modern life. The wellness community has embraced mindfulness, with the mental health sector including mindfulness as an integral therapy for many conditions. Though mindfulness takes practice, as with forming any new habit, it can become second nature. Meditation is the primary training method to become more mindful. An abundance of mindfulness meditation practices are online and in the App Store.
You can imbue every moment with mindfulness until it infuses your life 24/7.
Mindfulness hacks can help
Intend to “witness” thoughts throughout your day without analyzing or judging them? Stay with each sacred breath by reciting phrases like “Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.” Narrate aspects of your day to yourself, i.e., “Good morning, self,” and do so with great enthusiasm. Be where your hands are, or as the Latin saying goes, Age quod agis or, “Do what you are doing.” Saying things to ourselves brings us into the moment, such as, “Right now, I’m washing the dishes,” or “I’m watering the garden now.”
Mindfulness cues remind you to relax and be at peace. Choose a word, phrase or activity to prompt mindfulness if attention has lapsed. Continually returning to awareness allows your daily activities and your life to take on a meditative quality. You can perform any action with awareness: pouring a glass of water, shutting down your computer, cooking a meal, going for a nature walk.
Every time you do even the smallest action, take a deep breath, noticing how your muscles relax. I encourage my students to place sticky notes with words like “breathe” or “smile!” wherever they’ll see them on a regular basis, such as on the bathroom mirror, computer, car dashboard, and so on. Mentally use a phrase or visualize an image to shift your awareness.
Cultivating conscious self-care takes practice
Use transitions through your day to cultivate mindfulness, such as making a phone call, walking through a doorway, getting in your car, picking up the mail, eating a meal or taking your first sip of tea. For instance, when the phone rings, roll your shoulders down away from your ears, take a deep breath and smile before answering the phone. Your calm energy and friendly smile will travel across the phone’s radio waves!
Take a moment to tune into your beating heart. Its rhythm is your rhythm. If you rush ahead of your heart’s rhythm, chances are you’ll miss much of what’s really important in your life. Focus your attention to your heartbeat, and take several deep, cleansing breaths.
Your daily ablutions can be lovely mindfulness rituals. Say you’re taking a shower: So, really feel the water rain on your skin. Engage your senses with the feel and sound of the water, the aroma of your body wash. Imagine all tension streaming from your skin’s surface and down the drain. Being fully present to every sensation during personal care rituals is a delightful way to begin or end your day. This is truly conscious self-care.
Try a moving meditation to get into the groove
Any form of physical activity can become a meditation. We call yoga both “mindfulness in motion” or “meditation in motion” for a reason. Much like walking, Tai Chi, golfing, fishing, flow yoga, dancing and more activities can all become the loveliest sort of moving into mindfulness meditation.
Remember that when you begin to practice any form of mindfulness, you’ll be amazed how out of control your mind is. You want to put your attention on your breath, but it spins everywhere. Know that with kindness and patience, your mind will begin to settle down. And peace, joy and well-being will naturally ensue.
MARY BETH JANSSEN, CAyur, RYT, CMT, RYT-500, is president of the Janssen Source, wellness director for a large Chicagoland Health Care Organization, and certified Ayurvedic and mind-body specialist for Chopra Center for Wellbeing.