The following is a guest blog post from internationally known yoga specialist, Claire Grieve.
If you are anything like 99.9% of humans, finding time for yourself can be closely compared to finding a needle in a haystack—impossible. Life seems to always find a way to continuously shove obstacles in your path to self-righteousness.
In celebration of our 47th Earth Day, we all need to put life on pause to take a moment and appreciate the world around us. Yes, that means literally stop and smell the roses. What better way to honor Earth day then to connect with mother nature by engaging mindfulness into our daily lives. Practicing mindfulness is imperative to our personal prosperity, a few moments of mental tranquility a day may just be the key to happiness.
Integrate these 7 simple yet life-changing techniques to become more “mindful” everyday.
The powers of gratitude extend beyond a short “thank you”. Gratitude is something you feel, to feel grateful for the good and the bad, the big or small details of daily life. It’s simple, if you project gratitude, you will see a giving world in return. Be sure to radiate gratefulness within yourself and toward others to live a long happy life!
You can integrate gratitude into everyday life by keeping a daily journal. Write down at least 3 things you’re grateful for that you experienced throughout the day. An event, a person, an emotional you felt, something you experienced that made you happy. Gratitude helps you to be aware of each moment you experience therefore keeping you more present.
Breathing can be categorized as one of the most effortless and repetitive of our daily human actions. It can also be one of the most mentally rehabilitating. Conscious breathing exercises can work wonders for your mind and body. According to the internationally recognized, Andrew Weil, M.D., “Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”
Mindful breathing can be done anytime and anywhere as long as you are able to focus on your breathing patterns. Your full attention should be on every inhale and exhale, closing your eyes or softening your gaze. If your mind wanders, bring your focus back to your breath. Do this as many times a day as necessary, especially during high stress situations.
Meditation is quickly becoming a buzzword. Most of us feel like we don't have five minutes to sit down and relax which gives us even more reason to find our inner calm. Throughout our lifetime, it’s very rare we take the time to give our mind a little break. We push our minds daily with thought after thought, creating tension, anxiety, and restlessness. With so much daily pressure it’s crucial we take the time to revitalize our mind’s awareness by giving our brains a daily break of absolutely nothing. Doing so will prompt your brain to restart with a clean slate and a more productive mindset.
The Buddhists figured this out long ago. It’s imperative that we implement their meditation techniques into our modern-day lives and regular routines. The Huffington Post reported that mindfulness meditation can lower stress, change the brain in a protective way, and help you sleep better among many other benefits.
Try using an app to help with your meditation practice. Headspace, is meditation made simple. A personal trainer for your mind will guide you through 10 minutes of mindfulness on your journey to a healthier mind. Learning to be present through meditation helps you to experience greater clarity, calm and focus in everyday life.
Increase Your Awareness & Engage Senses
Encourage yourself to take a short walk daily and focus your attention solely on the natural beauty our environment is made up of. Walking alone is extremely fortifying, it has been known to strengthen your heart, lowers disease risks, and is proven to make you happy.
During your walk, be sure to embrace all your senses by narrowing in on each smell, sight, sensation, and sound. Take in mother nature’s glory around you, be present and experience each moment as it is. Feel the tickling warmth of sunshine on your face, let the aromatic scent of fresh flowers steal you away as the crisp wind blows through your hair. A walk can be a truly entrancing experience.
Use this time to disconnect from all your devices and be one with nature. It has been shown to bring about positive emotions, and activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which calms and restores us. Earth is our home, it’s time we fuse the endless benefits of mindfulness and connect with mother nature.
We are all guilty of rushing through our lunch break. Mealtimes are an important tool to include in our mindfulness practice. Take the time to engulf yourself in every burst of flavor each mouthwatering bite provides. Mealtime should never be rushed, if done properly, food can feed the mind, body, and soul. It can activate your senses and awaken your mind.
Do yourself a favor and try to have one meal a day in a quiet and serene area, be present and focused as you unhurriedly and peacefully enjoy your food. Be sure to stay off your cell phones. That way, we become more mindful to our senses and eating only what we need to satisfy us. You will start to notice and enjoy smells, textures and tasting flavors you’ve never experienced, bringing joy into every bite. The positivity is guaranteed to follow you into every aspect of your life.
Wake up well
Most of us are guilty of waking up to our irking iPhone alarm, checking emails and Instagram notifications before quickly jumping out of bed. Well it’s time to try something a little different. First things first, set an old-school alarm! Change the alarm tone to a more soothing, blissful sound. Set it for at least 30 minutes earlier than usual, this will allow you to take your time to wake-up mindfully thus peacefully. Be sure to feel your body wake up, wiggle your fingers and toes, stretch your arms and legs, take a few big inhales and exhales and set a positive mindset to start the day.
Take some time to make yourself hot water with lemon or head to your yoga mat to get your body moving with a few rounds of sun salutations and meditation. You can also casually forget your cell phone at home while you take a refreshing morning walk, it’s a great way to clear your head. Whichever approach you chose to cure your Monday morning blues, let yourself begin the day inspired. This simple tweak will cultivate positive energy and gratitude the rest of your day and your life.
Last on the list and unfortunately many times in life is making time for self-love. It is necessary to put yourself first and incorporate a bit of selfishness into your every day life. Self-love can come in any form, from putting together a killer outfit that makes you feel invincible to making life-long dream a reality. As long as you are doing it all for yourself. As Buddha once said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
It’s no secret loving yourself is much easier said than done. Start off by finding simple ways to love and care for yourself. You can make little changes like giving yourself a full eight hours of rest a night or planning a spa day once a month. Then begin eliminating time wasted watching TV or using the internet and spend quality time getting to know yourself by reading a book. Most importantly live intentionally and with a purpose by becoming mindful in all facets of life.