There is a growing awareness of the power of mindfulness in our culture today. It’s a beautiful thing to me, as someone who has practiced yoga for more than a decade. While many want to pretend that mindfulness is a new concept, it is really one of the oldest concepts. Mindfulness, even how it is taught by therapists today, is Vipassanā (Pāli) or vipaśyanā a Buddhist practice that has been around for ages. The idea is to gain awareness of your breath and emotions while not controlling or judging either one. It is a practice of simply observing what is happening.
As simple as that may sound, I find people can get overwhelmed with making time to practice this and often have a lot of judgements about meditation and mindfulness. Emotions, breath, observing, it can feel so intangible in the beginning.
So here are a few tangible steps to take on the way to developing your mindfulness practice:
- Identify your favorite spaces. Where do you feel relaxed? What places either in your home or outdoors do you feel reflect you the most? What if you made just a little bit of time to linger in those places?
- What are you eating? The further science progresses, the more it seems to reflect old sayings like, “You are what you eat!” A lot of foods that are commonly consumed serve only as distractions. Spikes of sugar and rushes of caffeine pull our emotions with them. Could you choose to purchase a few more fresh fruits and vegetables and a few less packaged foods? What if you spent just a few minutes longer preparing what you are consuming? Can you just observe what that process is like for you, preparing and eating? What do you experience?
- What do you do to prepare for sleep? What are the conversations you have before you go to bed? What is on your mind when you get into bed? What is your routine?
Becoming aware of these every day habits and patterns will help you tune into yourself. Without sitting on a pillow in a yoga position, tuning into these patterns will offer you insight and begin to develop that ability to observe your experience, the key ingredient of mindfulness.