Why do I try to cultivate awareness, mindfulness, and stillness?
- In an era of go-go-go, of constant innovation, of near constant interruption, with the capability of 24/7 global communication, the ability to focus on a task to completion is becoming increasingly rare and increasingly valuable. Remember, multi-tasking is a myth.
- I want to live a life I love everyday and pending my multi-million dollar invention, I can achieve that by appreciating what already is and enjoying the here and now.
- Lao Tzu says it best:
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
There are a lot of deeper and a lot of simpler reasons to cultivate these things. Stress reduction, stress management, a deeper connection with others, a deeper connection with the earth, finding truth, physiological health, improved cardiovascular control and connection. It’s generally easier to convince yourself to adopt a mindfulness practice if you have a reason to try. However, if you adopt a mindfulness practice without one, you are still going to feel the benefits, especially if you pay attention. Which is sort of the whole point.
How do I (and how can you) cultivate awareness, mindfulness, and stillness? Practice.
Journaling can help with creating a daily practice, planning ahead, practicing gratitude, and focus, even if it’s only for five minutes.
I am not a natural journal-er. Growing up, I would buy diaries, write in them for three days in a row at the beginning of the school year, the end of the school year, and maybe once or twice in between if something awesome happened. TL;DR: I don’t know how to journal. Luckily, there are about 27 Kickstarters each year promoting different types of journals and planners that are pre-filled with questions for you to answer. The first one I started with was the Five Minute Journal. Now, I’ve created my own with the things that have helped me in the past. Let me know if you want to see mine. I’m happy to share.
Meditation or prayer can help with awareness, stillness, focus, and stress management. When I meditate consistently, not only does the meditation practice help me reduce stressful and anxious feelings in the moment, but I felt more capable of calming myself down when anxious thoughts started to creep in during the day.
The trick with meditation is to just try it and practice it. Set a timer for 3 minutes, sit still, and just count your breathing, in and out, one and two. When you have a thought, it’s fine, just go back to breathing as soon as you remember. To help boost your confidence, here is a VERY accurate representation of meditation in this video, in my opinion.
You can also check out meditation apps like Calm, Breathe, and Headspace.
If you are into yoga, a daily 5-minute (or longer!) yoga routine where you are focusing internally on breathing and moving consciously from pose to pose is a great way to add movement, mobility, and mindful breathing your day.
If you are like me and jumping into yoga feels like a little too much movement, especially in the morning, I highly recommend Qi Gong. I started with this four minute video. For me, it has been a better blend of movement and breathing to start the day. The movement isn’t overwhelming and I don’t have to worry about falling back asleep while meditating in the morning.
This week, I highly recommend trying journaling, meditation, or mindful movement as a lifestyle habit. Starting out, dedicate yourself to 3-5 minutes a day for one week. Just like everything else we have been doing, try it out and pay attention to what effects it has. If it works, start to ramp it up one minute, one week at a time. If it doesn’t fit you, try something else the following week.
What about you all? What mindfulness practices have you tried in the past? What’s made them easier?