I came across this quote, and I honestly can't stop thinking about it.
Salzberg speaks so deeply to what I've learned, especially in the last year: In order for me to stick with a practice, it has to be manageable for me. I have to be able to actually do it. So I'm going to start sharing more ideas for manageable mindifulness and self-care practices here in this space in the hopes that they'll give you some ideas for the kind of daily practice you can create over in your corner. I believe that through these practices, be keep building that bridge between our daily lives and the lives we deeply imagine for ourselves.
Here are five ideas to help you bring in small but deep moments of mindfulness into your daily life.
1. Stretch and move your body.
Moving your body with awareness can quiet your mind chatter and invite you back into presence. Here's one quick way to do this:
Stand up with enough space around you that you can sweep your arms out to the side. With your feet about hip distance apart, try to feel your feet beneath you. Bring your hands to your heart or cross your arms at your chest. With your next inhale, open your arms wide feeling the stretch all the way to your fingertips. As you exhale, bring your arms back to center, crossing them over your heart. Repeat 5-10 more times. As you stretch, continue to focus on feeling your feet beneath you while also stretching your upper body.
When you're done, make any other movements your body needs right now. Just notice. You'll know what to do.
2. Get outside and take five deep breaths.
There's a reason why I often give people the homework of getting outside: It gets you out of your head and back into your body and mind. This happens because you're so often surrounded by so much that is simply present. From the birds singing their song every single day to the trees following the rhythms of mother nature, there's evidence of the way the world outside this screen and even your daily life finds ways to be present.
Get outside for even just three minutes today and pause, taking five deep breaths as you simply notice whatever is around you.
3. Make a list of observations.
Writing a list can invite you away from the distractions and swirling thoughts and get you back into your heart a bit more. It can also connect you to the present moment. Here's what I mean: Write a list of observations about this moment. Move away from feelings and things that need to get done and instead, imagine you are stepping outside of yourself and just notice what you see. I sometimes start lists like these with the word "here."
For example: Here blue sky shines thought the window. Here a dog snores. Here a woman pushes herself through writer's block. Here a kettle of water begins to boil. Here a favorite soft t-shirt. Here artwork dances on the walls...
Sometimes this practice becomes a bit like writing a poem. It's a great idea to try daily; you could even keep an ongoing list of observations in your planner.
4. Practice a simple breathing meditation.
Here's one of my favorite beginning meditations (that I use often). I call it the "Counting Your Breaths" meditation.
Find a comfortable way to sit. You can use a pillow or a meditation cushion or even a rolled up blanket to sit on. (Note though that you can really do this anywhere - in your car, in the shower, during a break at work, at your desk, and so on.)
Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breathing. Notice how your breath moves in your body. After a few moments, begin to count your breaths. One way I like to do this is to literally say internally, “Inhale one. Exhale one. Inhale two. Exhale two.” as I breathe. Count up to 10. If you'd like to practice longer, or after you've tried a few sessions of going up to 10, you can start over and go through this cycle of 10 a few times. When you’re done, notice your mind, body, and heart.
5. Notice your senses.
This is a practice you can truly do anywhere at any time. Pause right where you are and notice all five of your senses. Breathe deeply, and pay attention to what you hear, smell, taste, see, and touch. Depending on where you are, try to close your eyes so you can get even deeper in touch with your other senses. I also like to add in a sixth sense of knowing. I do this by taking a deep breath and literally saying to myself, "What do I know in this moment."
Check out my senses series for a peek into how I use this as a meditative photography and writing practice as well.
To think about: As you consider developing your own mindfulness practice, think about what is really doable for you. What can you create space for in your life? What do you have time for? And pair these questions with thinking about what you really need.
An invitation: If you want to circle with women to talk about self-care and mindfulness practices and how you can really make them a part of your daily life, come along on my fall Be Present Retreat. It's called Water Your Soul and it takes place this November in Manzanita, Oregon. Learn all about it here.
(photo of me by Vanessa Simpson of Focus in Photograpy)