As a yoga and mediation teacher, our Biome Blogger Tracey Sargent regularly observes the impact of the stressed-out nature of modern life. In this article she shares little ways to find more moments of calm throughout the day. If you would like to join our Biome Blog team and share your personal insights with our community, please go to the Green Living Guide and contact us.
Tracey's tips for mindfulness
In what may be a sad reflection of modern life, whenever we ask someone the question ‘How are you?', it's rare to receive a response other than ‘busy'. Our lives are often tightly scheduled; we stay constantly connected via our smart phones, tablets and laptops; and we are generally very good at filling every available space with noise of some kind. None of which seems like a very calm and relaxed way to live. Most of us are familiar with the benefits of a regular meditation practice - reducing stress and anxiety, improving focus and concentration, and bringing about a greater sense of self awareness and acceptance. So why don't more people meditate? Well for some it can feel like just another thing to try and squeeze into an already overfull calendar, while for others it can just be a case of not knowing how. The good news is that mindfulness meditation does not require you to sit as still as a statue for long periods of time, nor does it require any particularly difficult technique that must be learned. It's merely about giving yourself the space to reconnect with that natural calm which always resides within. Rather than fill every space in your life with something, consider opening a little into that spaciousness. This doesn't have to be complex, here's a few mindfulness practices you might like to try:
Switching off the radio when you're in the car, and just tuning into the sounds of your car as you drive;
Resting your mind by focussing your awareness on just three breaths. Simply observe the breath as it flows in and out, allowing your mind to relax into that calm rhythmic flow; or
Setting aside your electronic devices while you eat your dinner and give yourself permission to enjoy the full experience of your meal - the taste, fragrances and textures.
Look for simple, everyday ways you can incorporate short moments of mindfulness into your life. For instance, each time you take a break to make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, use those few minutes as an opportunity to be more mindful. Bring your full attention into the experience and sharpen your focus - it gets easier the more you do it! Rather than multi-task and disperse your awareness, put your mobile phone aside and time your break so you won't be drawn into the distraction of a conversation. Give yourself fully to just this one experience - the task of making yourself a drink:
As you prepare your drink, give each step your full, undivided attention. Feel the weight of your cup as you place it on the counter. Notice how the coffee spoon or tea bag feels in your hand. Observe the water as it flows into your cup. With whatever action is required, focus your awareness completely in that moment. Notice the fragrance of the coffee or tea as it infuses into the hot water. Allow each of these actions to be your priority, instead of rushing through and allowing your mind to be distracted by other tasks.
After making your drink, maintain your awareness on the experience. Savour each sip. Feel the cup in your hands. Think about the taste, the temperature and how the drink makes you feel (perhaps happy, warm, calm or energised).
With practice, you'll find more ways to invite many short moments of mindfulness into your day. Moments where we engage in the experience of the present rather than mindlessly go through the motion of any task. The more often you engage mindfully with an experience, the more relaxed and refreshed your mind will be. How do you incorporate calm into your day? Be sure to share in the comments below. Further Reading:
Bays, Jan Chozen. 2011. How to Train a Wild Elephant & Other Adventures in Mindfulness. Shambhala Publications, Boston.
Brookes, Stephanie. 2014. Meditation Made Easy. CICO Books, London.
Biome acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation (Burwood), Bundjalung, Yugambeh and Koombumerrii people (Southport), and Yuggera and Turrbul people (Meanjin / Brisbane) as the traditional owners and custodians of the land that we work on. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
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