By: Suzanne Scholten
Did you know that May is national meditation month? I didn’t, until we were looking for a focus of the month. What a great theme, eh? In my own practice, I have found this to be one of the most positive practices, one that has really changed my life. Mindfulness is being in the present moment, simply watching what you are doing and inviting the mind to stay with the body. One can practice mindfulness during any activity—asana practice, walking, talking with a friend, working, doing laundry, etc. This practice helps stop the endless loop of the mind and its tendency to wander onto something that does not nourish the soul, and keeps us moving forward in the actions that heal us and connect us to our higher purpose. In short, we become a better friend, relative and human.
To become mindful in our daily, simple tasks, try practicing in these ways:
- Sit (anywhere) and watch the breath come in and go out for a few minutes, or even a few seconds. Notice if it is easier at a certain time of day or in a certain place. Let go of judgement and simply observe.
- Before you eat, take 3 steady breaths and give thanks for your food.
- During asana practice, try to focus the mind on the subtle sensations of the body, not outside noises. See if while you practice you can hear and feel your heart beating.
- Walking, focus the mind on your feet or repeat, “I am walking,” to keep the mind from wandering. Try doing this from your car to a store and notice how much more friendly and connected you are to the people helping you.
- Put cotton in your ears at night and listen and feel a relaxed breath while in bed; let your soft breath and awareness lull you to sleep.
- Notice the times when during a task, your mind is elsewhere. Keep track of when and how many times this happens in one day.
- Take time off from TV, phone and computer use. Use this time to share tea or coffee with a friend. Practice your listening skills.
- Practice point-to-point breathing or 61 points: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqtzQ3k6P0M
- Come up with a time, every day, when you can be mindful; the mind will end up finding stillness as you arrive because you have created an intention.
All of these steps will help you create a habit of stillness. Show the mind you want it to be still and it will become still. Because we often let it run after things/habits that do not represent stillness, the mind receives a confused message. Find out what keeps you from stillness and try to minimize that habit. It’s the small stuff that adds up, step by step.