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How to Cultivate Mindfulness When the World Feels Upside Down
In a time unlike any other in Earth's recent memory, now more than ever is the moment to cultivate a little mindfulness. A little goes a long way when it feels like the world has been turned upside down.
It's being able to slow down for long enough to get out of your head and into your body so you can tune in to what you need and make healthy choices for yourself.
Mindfulness is what takes us out of worrying about what's happened in the past. Or what might happen in the future. It brings us back to the present moment – to simply be, in the here and now.
Mindfulness practices allow us to: wake up, pay attention, and become present so we can get the most out of each day.
They teach us how to respond to situations more calmly and recognize our unhealthy habits. They also help us become more tolerant, less judgmental, and kinder to others and ourselves.
When many are faced with staying at home for days on end, mindfulness tools help us feel anchored in what can feel like a swirling sea of chaos, and help us find the calm that is so needed so right now.
Even with the 3 screaming kids under 5 who haven't been outside in what feels like forever.
Now more than ever:
CALM IS A SUPERPOWER.
Mindfulness, when practiced and cultivated, puts YOU back in control of your life. It has us seeing solutions or road signs that place us on the path of joy and being happy when we might otherwise feel like we're losing our mind.
Here are some of the many benefits mindfulness brings:
- Temper Control
- Fending Off Depression
- Reduction in Worry and Anxiety
- Boundary Setting and Saying No
- Weight Loss
- Lowering of Daily Stress
- Ability to Fall Asleep Faster
- Increased Focus and Concentration
- Being a Better Listener
- Lowering Blood Pressure
- Being More Assertive
- Deepening Your Spiritual Life
- Sticking with Goals
- Being a Better Mother, Father, Business Owner, Leader, Person
What's the Quickest Way to Start Cultivating Mindfulness?
You can begin today by focusing your attention on moment-to-moment sensations while doing everyday activities.
How? By single-tasking: Doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention.
For example: as you wash the dishes, pet the dog, or eat a banana, slow it down and be fully present to the way the task unfolds and how it involves each of your senses. Want to know more?
Here are 5 Mindfulness Practices to Cultivate While We Stay at Home.
1) How to Set Up Your Day Mindfully: Start by setting an intention.
Here's a quick but profoundly effective 3-minute meditation to help start your day mindfully and with intention.
It is SO important to remember that no matter what comes our way, WE get to DECIDE how we spend our days feeling.
· Get into a comfortable seated position. Eyes closed. And start to take a few deep breaths, in through the nose, and out through the mouth.
· Now begin to envision your day ahead. Not what you have to do, or your to-do list, but the way you want to FEEL.
· Ask yourself: What trait or quality do you want to bring in and exude today?
For example, is it centeredness, boldness, confidence, or something else?
· Whatever it is, breathe it in: so as you inhale, say to yourself, for example, I WILL BE CENTRED. And exhale the same words out.
Keep going for several rounds of breath.
· Envision yourself with this quality. See yourself standing there throughout your upcoming day, embodying this quality.
See yourself faced with a challenging situation and still being able to maintain this quality.
Inhale and exhale your chosen quality a few more times: I WILL BE XXXX.
Then draw your palms together into your heart-centre and smile inward, knowing you've got this.
2) How to End Your Day Mindfully: The end of our day sets tomorrow's tone.
During such unprecedented times, it is easier than ever to continue our default patterning. That of getting into bed and focusing on what's going wrong with our lives. Instead of the incredible number of things that are still going well.
So tonight, and each night you get into bed, think of the MANY things that are going well for you. And POUR YOUR EMOTIONAL ENERGY INTO THAT.
Then go to sleep in this state of gratitude.
And when you wake tomorrow morning, don't go back to your default thinking of "Arghh, another day in quarantine. Or I have so much to do today!" Instead, bring back those feelings of gratitude and rest in that for a moment or two.
When you make this a daily practice, you'll get to a place where your default emotional domain is one of appreciation and gratitude.
And that is the place from where you can't help but draw more goodness to you!
3) Eating Mindfully: Slowing down can mean speeding up your metabolism.
Having to stay at home can mean a lot more going to the kitchen pantry, hoping for a little relief, that ends up sitting as an extra pound or two around our hips. But it doesn't have to if we practice mindful eating.
When we eat mindfully, we not only gain more pleasure, energy, and nourishment from our food. We also fire up our metabolism in a way that encourages weight loss if that's something your body needs.
And all it requires is taking the time to - slow - down - enough - to - savour - each - bite - of - your - food.
Fascinatingly, our frame of mind also impacts our metabolism in such a way that "what we think and feel" profoundly influences HOW we digest a meal.
Our metabolic power is not only about WHAT and HOW we eat, but WHO we are when we're eating.
If you've ever suffered from bloating, digestive issues or holding on to unwanted weight, no matter how healthfully you eat, the following practice is an excellent way of turning that around:
Intentionally decide to eat at least 1 meal in the following way:
- Set aside MORE time to eat. Ideally, double it.
- Only eat sitting down, without a cell phone, newspaper, or anything else in front of you.
- Breathe in deeply for 3-4 breaths.
- Before your first bite, take in your food with your eyes and nose. Look at the colours and textures. Smell the flavours.
- When you take your first bite, close your eyes, give thanks, put down your utensils, and chew for longer than you usually would, thinking about how the food feels and tastes.
- Repeat. Taking long deep breaths between each bite.
If you're with others, hold a secret contest - you WIN if you finish your meal LAST.
Now, after your meal and then again two hours later, tune in to how you're feeling, particularly in your belly.
You might be surprised to discover just how GOOD you feel! Perhaps:
- satiated and not longing for a snack soon after, like you usually do
- relaxed, yet energized
- little to no bloating, nor feeling digestively upset
Make this a habit with more and more meals and watch your eating experience and the way you look and feel transform.
4) The Magic of Working Out Mindfully: The 2 for 1 deal
Home workouts are the perfect time to practice mindfulness.
No matter the activity: dancing, treadmill, yoga, HIIT, once you decide to do it with intention, you can take it from only working out to burn calories, to the magic of feeling blissfully reconnected to yourself.
There's no doubt we're at our best when our body and mind are in sync.
Our body is always living in the present moment. As it's right here with us.
The magic happens though, when we can use mindfulness to bring our mind into the present moment too.
Remember, mindfulness is like a muscle that needs practice and repetition to be trained. Here are some ways to do that:
- Know your purpose for this workout session. For now, forget the 3-6 month goal and focus on the here and now. Envision how you want your training session to go and how you want to feel at the end of it. Be gentle with yourself, and keep bringing yourself back to this.
- Don't try to multitask: turn off the phone, forget the book and the iPad. Be present only with yourself.
- Turn inward to your breath and start slow: focus on your form, each movement, and your breath.
- Return to your breath: over and over again, as you begin to push yourself, tune your breath even more, and let go. Whatever tension you're feeling, tune into that with your breath and let it go.
· To finish: tune into how good you're feeling right NOW, and take that with you as you leave.
Combining mindfulness with your workout is a two-for-one deal: You're training your body and your mind at the same time.
5) How to Work at Home, Mindfully
While some of us are at home during this time more or less on paid leave, many more of us are having to juggle working from home, while home-schooling teenagers and/or taking care of little ones.
Or the even harder task of having to look for new work opportunities.
No matter what you’re currently juggling work-wise, there is some Good news:
mindfulness practices train us to have better focus, be more productive, and feel less stressed at "work." No matter where that is.
Practicing mindfulness helps us develop a sharp, clear mind, and to release distractions as they come up. It keeps us in the present moment instead of ruminating over yesterday's messy meeting or tomorrow's unknown.
It's the antidote to that thing that wrecks us more than almost anything else: multitasking.
Here are 5 ways to inject mindful moments into your "workday" so you can get through this time with most of your sanity and a bit more of a smile in place.
- Avoid opening your inbox until you've had the chance to get more or less settled into work-mode and complete one of your priorities for the day.
- Make the decision to remain present throughout your day. Choose a mantra such as "Today I will stay calm and slay." Anything that when you say it to yourself, it will bring you back to the present moment.
- Be a single-tasker, not a multi-tasker. Ok, so that might just be impossible while we're in stay at home mode with kids. So let's just aim to do as few tasks at the same time as possible during this stay at home period.
- Set reminders: Set a vibrating alarm on your phone that's a reminder to come back to the present moment, refocus, and start anew. It doesn’t matter if your alarm finds you screaming at your kids or your laptop. Practice and resetting is what helps make this stick.
- In the afternoon: slay the afternoon slump by deliberately taking a break and pouring yourself a vino (just kidding?!) and going for a 10min stretch or sitting somewhere separate to your desk for a few rounds of calming breath (breathe in slowly for a count of 3, hold for a count of 3, and then release for 3).
Each of these tips will help boost your concentration and energy levels and have you feeling less stressed.
Mindfulness begins with the simple act of deciding to show up for yourself.
It's about catching yourself, snapping yourself out of autopilot and the scrolling, re-runs, and aimless wandering and bringing yourself back to showing up for your life with intention.
When all else fails, simply keep showing up for yourself. You’ve got this.
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