YYoga College Faculty Shares Their Thoughts
“Mindfulness” is blowing up as the new hot word among the neo-spiritual, new age, western, hippy, yogi and the meditators (you may have noticed that I love offering workshops dedicated to it!). In spite of its trendiness, mindfulness (as a form of meditation) is truly a valuable practice. “It relieves stress, improves ability to think, and emotional intelligence” (Jason Voss). Who doesn’t need a new habit of quietly focusing attention and tapping into a deep reservoir of steadiness? One who is mindful strives to witness the habitual nature of the mind. One who is mindful has the desire to deepen the understanding of one's own mind. One who is mindful is not perfect, nor in a state of perpetual bliss, but very alert and conscious of her emotions and reactions to them. Now that you know about it, how do you get into this whole craze and actually learn the techniques?
Mindfulness often begins with body/breath awareness at drop-in yoga or by following a YouTube video on meditation. Committing to a practice can eventually evolve into big life shifts and transformations for some of us who are ready and willing.
Simple activities to try on your own include:
- Sit or lie still whenever possible in a chair/car/office/floor at home.
- Begin with 5 minutes and focus on your breath. *one of my favourites
- Journal about the cycles and stages you have been through in life and where you are now. Write about past lessons and how you would like to feel in the future. *another favourite
- Stop and take a deep breath before speaking.
- Speak from the heart. *no, this one!
- Listen to meditations online or at local events. Get a friend to join you
- Wear jewelry that reminds you of your teachers and guides.
- Go to yoga, go for a run, enjoy tai chi or go for a swim: do anything that gets your blood flowing and nourishes your deserving body (use a self-care or self-love mantra during these activities!). If we want to become more aware and more awake, the body needs our attention first and foremost. Clear out the tensions in the body and you will observe shifts in mental tension and stress as well.
- Write meaningful quotes around your house or office that remind you of what is important. The mind needs to be trained into remembering affirmations and mantra in this manner (eg: may I feel peace, may I feel free from pain).
- Walk nowhere, for no reason. Take in all the sights and sounds.
Basically everything can turn into a meditative practice of mindfulness and we are all capable of changing our repetitive thoughts and behaviours. Start with clear and therapeutic activities and notice the subtle and perhaps not so subtle shifts in your relationships with others and to self. It may seem crazy that one of these techniques can create an avalanche of ensuing life shifts, but there is a reason that mindfulness meditations are hot right now: they work. And pro tip: they’ve been hot in many communities around the world for thousands of years.