How to Cultivate Mindfulness

These days we live through unprecedented times where the future is unknown for us all. Our lives have been flipped upside down and the rhythm and routine we once knew and found comfort in abruptly came to a screeching halt with the introduction of quarantines and social distancing measures. 

While some of us are delighted by the opportunities this shift has presented, some are experiencing boredom, or struggling with loneliness and some feel frustrated and fearful for what the future might hold. We would like to invite all of you to use this time as an opportunity to find ways to bring mindfulness into our everyday lives as a way of coping and dealing with these uncomfortable feelings that arise. 

What exactly is Mindfulness? 

Most likely you're quite familiar with this word, since it's used everywhere, but we feel it's still loosely defined. 

It means being aware of your thoughts, feelings, sensations and immediate environment in the here and now. In other words, focusing on the present moment rather than letting our thoughts travel to the past (for example, wishing for the social schedule we had just a few weeks ago) or imagining the future (being afraid of the worst case possible scenarios or hoping that everything will figure itself out).

Benefits of practicing mindfulness include immunity boosting, feelings of happiness and contentment and reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression amongst many others. 

How can we include mindfulness into our day to day lives?
Adopting a meditation practice

Meditation (dhyana) is when we put our attention and focus towards one single object with the goal of achieving a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. This type of clarity helps us notice external sensations such as sounds, sights, and touch that make up our moment-to-moment experiences. Starting a daily meditation practice can sound daunting if you have never done it before. Try to set your alarm 5 minutes earlier before your usual wake up time, choose a quiet space in your home, let your body settle in a comfortable position (you can use props to sit more comfortably - your favourite yoga mat, a pillow or block), close your eyes.

Learn more How to start meditating HERE

Doing Breath work (pranayama)

Mindful breathing involves focusing our attention on the breath and paying attention to how the body feels each time we inhale, noticing how our lungs expand as they fill with air - the air brings prana/life force into our bodies to energize us and exhale - our lungs contract as we release our breath and expel what is no longer serving our body. Carve out 5 minute in your busy schedule and fully focus on breathing. We’ll be covering breathing techniques in more details in a later blog post).

Pausing throughout the day

Taking the time to really be in the present moment as we go through the day can be one of the most effective ways to cultivate a mindfulness practice that truly resonates with us. When washing the dishes, rather than letting your mind wander to thinking about what else requires cleaning in the rest of the kitchen or in your life, focus your attention on how the water feels on your skin, the sound of the cloth as it wipes the dish dry, maybe the feel of the sun on your skin. While putting your kids to sleep, rather than worrying over what activities you need to come up with for the following day, stop and take in the smell of their room, skin, the sound of their breathing as they rest softly in bed. 

Practicing gratitude

Taking a moment each day to practice gratitude can significantly alter how we perceive our circumstances. Even during hard times, we can definitely find things that we are most grateful for. Dedicate a few minutes each morning or night for gratitude and in no time it will become an essential part of your daily routine.

Keeping a Journal

The act of writing down our thoughts actively enables us to bring awareness to what is going through our minds and how we feel about the circumstances that surround us. Writing these emotions or thoughts into a journal can allow us to release any negative energy we may be holding within our bodies, or on the contrary, provide us an opportunity to put happy thoughts onto paper and thus revisit them in the future when we may need a little happiness boost.

Practicing Yoga

Yoga is a great and powerful tool to bring back focus on our body and mind. Making the effort to create time and space for yoga within the confines of your home can be a rewarding way to acknowledge your own mental and physical needs, deal with the anxieties of life and create mindfulness in each movement or stillness.

Find the Yoga mat which inspires you to practice, choose a peaceful corner of your home and experience the beauty of your yoga journey.

Read more why Yoga at home can be better than in class HERE

Cultivating mindfulness is by no means an easy practice and takes lots of effort but doing so can relieve the anxious feeling and questioning thoughts we may be experiencing. It provides us the opportunity to find more enjoyment out of the present moment, adapt more easily to what comes our way, accepting a new reality and find peace within ourselves.

 

 

Prepared by Aviva Belhassen

Aviva is an international yoga teacher originally from Montreal, Canada. She offers a variety of different yoga classes for both adults and kids. She has a true love for traveling so when she is not on her mat you can find her exploring a beautiful beach in Dominican Republic where she currently resides. You can connect with Aviva on her Facebook page or her Instagram.

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