It may be my own mindfulness awareness that has brought me to the conclusion that mindfulness is the little black dress of 2019 or it might be because it is all over the news; either way, you need this. Certainly my attention has shifted my focus to things that bring peace and joy and away from the buzz and chaos that often goes with a busy life. After all, raising four kids, teaching, coaching sports, keeping a house together, coaching health and life, and everything else that demands my attention definitely causes a lot of stress. So, why is 2019 different for me and how can it be different for you? What do you know about being mindful, meditating or simply paying attention?
Maybe you've watched the Marie Kondo program, Tidying Up, on Netflix. Marie has offered some great suggestions on how to clear the clutter from our homes which is in direct contrast to much of what American life glorifies. Her simplistic view of what brings joy and resonates with you has also drawn criticism from busy mom's and sentimental "collectors". To each his own, right? Some people collect things and feel joy, others experience joy from simplifying. For me, there is something glorious about taking what has been sitting around my house, annoying me or just taking up space and donating, pitching or recycling it and I highly recommend decluttering often.
Let's take a deeper look at the idea of decluttering and how it allows for mindfulness. If you're not ready to go full scale purge, what about that junk drawer in your desk? The stack of papers? The rack full of outdated or clothes that don't fit anymore? What about all that junk that you're storing in your brain? Are these thoughts taking your attention from the now? If they are, they are sucking away your mindfulness. The simple act of tidying your desk opens your attention to the work you need to do instead of unconsciously pulling your energy to the clutter. Taking just a few minutes to clear your head, to breathe and to just be will do the same. Focusing on the now without projecting into the future or looking to the past allows us to make better choices, lower our anxiety levels and to keep our body in a state of relaxation that promotes clarity, peace, and believe it or not, weight loss.
So what do you have to do to try this out and will you have to use finger cymbals or say "Om" a lot? You are more than welcome to do both if that's your thing but I"m a little too Indiana for all that. (I wish I was more guru.) Here is how it all works.
Find a quiet place to sit.
Easy enough except the dog and the kids, right? You can go to your car if you need to, your closet, shut your bedroom door and turn on cartoons for ten minutes. Get up 15 minutes earlier.
I don't like to sit with my legs pretzeled so I use the couch or stretch out on my bed. If you're comfortable sitting on your knees or with your legs crossed, do that. It doesn't matter. What does matter it that you are comfortable, seated so you don't fall asleep too easily, and connected to what's under your butt and feet.
Get a guide.
If you're new to this, you're going to want to find someone to help you and lead you into the process. It's not that its difficult, it's that it is actually difficult. That will make sense once you sit down to practice. The first few times and even on down the line, your mind will wander off and THAT IS OKAY! That is actually part of what we are learning to control. You will learn how to redirect your thoughts and focus to the present. The more you practice, the easier it gets. I really like the Headspace and Calm apps but there are also some great guided meditations on YouTube.
Close your eyes and breathe.
Really. That's it. Just close your eyes, dump your brain and breathe. I would recommend starting with just five minutes and increase the time as you are comfortable.
Once you get comfortable and realize that your shoulders aren't above your ears anymore, that you're not snapping at your co-workers, kids or the guy in the car in front of you, it is very easy to become addicted to this little staycation for your mind. I started with five minutes back in May of 2018 and its easy for me to do 15 minutes in the morning and by afternoon, I know I need more time to refocus again.
If you're still weirded out by this idea and wondering how in the world it works, I highly encourage you to put aside your fears and ideas and to give it a shot anyway.
I have a challenge for you. Start today. Give yourself five minutes to explore what all of this mindfulness buzz is about and write down how it went for you; a sentence or two is fine. Was it easy? Were you anxious and ready to be done after two minutes? Did you find yourself wanting more time? Keep a log for the next week then report back to me your new perception on meditating and mindfulness. Enjoy this time with yourself and letting go. You are so worth it!