“Surrender. Just let go. Trust the universe… It will catch you.” –Unknown
Over the years I have been learning to be kinder and more compassionate with the processes I am immersed in, with the endeavors I seek, with the “somedays” and with the “wants”. While it is great to have clear, attainable goals and to set up the steps to achieve them, it is also important to be patient with the process, to understand that as long as we are truly seeking something and moving towards it, the speed or how that looks is not the most important part.
In the midst of our busy lives, we often find ourselves slipping away from our ideal goals, from those ideas we had set our minds on. And in a society that seems to only care about the end result (and is quite specific about the way that should look) it is no wonder so many of us can feel frustrated, stuck or inadequate at times.
But fear not! Mindfulness to the rescue!
Growing our mindfulness practice makes us much stronger and prepared to face what life throws at us, even when it keeps changing, or when it gets really hard, painful or even bizarre.
Mindfulness is a wide field, and we should be very grateful for that because that depth, in itself, is a powerful tool. When we stop for a minute and consciously think about where we are in order to connect with the present moment, we are practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness can be part of a deep and regular meditation practice. It can be valuing sacred spaces and passing thorough with gratitude. Mindfulness can also look like journaling, yoga, and of course breathing… among others.
This, like anything else, takes time and practice. The beauty is even if you do it only once a day, mindfulness will transform your life. Here are some steps you can take to build a mindfulness practice:
Breathing: Often, our breathing is mindless. Finding a deeper connection to our breath will relax us, help us feel more in control, and is a key element of meditation and yoga. When mindfully breathing, make sure to pause and feel the air filling your lungs all the way to the top. Exhale feeling more relaxed, or imagining a feeling or situation being gone.
Observation: Noting what is in front of us brings a powerful connection to the natural world. Taking a moment to just observe (not to judge), even if it is for only five seconds, opens up a new world of wonders and it leads us to become a better participant in the world around us.
Listening: Hearing is often an overstimulated sense, yet is often over-looked. So many of our biggest problems come from lack of listening. We might be hearing, but not listening. One very powerful way to practice this in conversation is by not interrupting the other party! Many times we interrupt as a way of demonstrating active listening and engagement, but many other times we are just adding, or even reclaiming the story, to make it fit our experiences. Not that this is always wrong BUT try just listening and see how differently you feel about the experience, yourself and the other party. (P.S. This is quite challenging with kids and teens! So it is a great time to lead by example.)
Immersion: Being fully present in the task at hand is another path to mindfulness. Purposefully immersing yourself in an activity cultivates contentment in the moment and escapes persistent striving. So instead of rushing through routine tasks, take that activity and fully immerse in it, detail after detail. Feel and become the motion. You might even achieve times of movement meditation.
Appreciation: A daily gratitude practice goes a long, long way. Whether you use a journal, or schedule a moment each day when you stop and feel appreciative, find a way to notice and appreciate the world around you. This practice can be done as a family, becoming a great way to connect with each other and promote open communication. Another simple way to practice appreciation is to notice five things in your day that usually go unnoticed. Your hands cooking, your clothes keeping you warm and stylish, the many people involved in the production of your daily food, your mail delivery person, the cashier at the store – spend a brief moment noting and appreciating.
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