‘Tis The Season For Mindfulness: 4 Tips To Start Practicing Now
For many of us, holidays mean long-distance travel, hurrying up and waiting (for oh-so-many-things), and spending quality time with loved ones (which may also trigger the shit out of us). If this is you, then quick, now’s the time to initiate or reignite a mindfulness practice. Instead of being something extra you are forced to wrestle with, or another new habit you drop two weeks into the new year, adding presence to your days is a lifestyle switch you’ll be determined to stick with. Commit and trust positive outcomes are headed your way, I promise!
SEE ALSO: Creating Intentions For 2020
End of year = end of a fuse
Personally, I’m coming off a few all-over-the place months. My brain felt scattered, the routine was nonexistent, and I was paddling to stay afloat. “No time to stop and reflect!”, shouted the mind, and then the neurons continued in rapid-fire, AK47 style. My brain felt overwhelmed with thoughts. Physically, I was pulled in opposing directions. And ultimately, the multi-tasking or trying to do it all wasn’t helping one bit. Instead, effectiveness and efficiency, DOWN. Forgetfulness, mistake-making, UP.
Unaware and out of alignment
I was not as present and mindful as I wanted to be. In all honesty, due in part to the urgency of the situation (I was working an emergency response), I was stressed and reactionary AF. My head was all over the place, actions were not always aligned, and it was damaging my relationships as all this cortisol (sure, I’m copping out and blaming hormones in this case), was making me run on a short fuse. Yikes. Lookout.
Now that I’ve had a hot minute to take a breather, I’m doing the New Year’s thing. You know, looking back and reflecting a bit. And it’s making me realize how I left my mindfulness practice by the wayside. Decided it wasn’t a priority. Extra fluff. Unnecessary. A vestige of my previous life.
Oh, how wrong I was…
Mindfulness is a proactive habit that helps us maintain some sense of balance and calm when it feels like everything is out of control and the world is falling apart around us.
How could I forget that?
Being present and tuning in should be habitual, like brushing my teeth. Actually, it’s like flossing – one of those things we think we can skip every once in a while, but when you do, buildup happens. Of bad stuff. Womp womp.
I’m determined to lose my fight-or-flightiness in the weeks to come. I’m ready to enter a new year with a clear mind, reconnected to Self, and living a life of presence and alignment.
Here are some of the steps I’m following to make that happen:
1) Get grounded
I’m talking about the situation, the environment, and the moment. For me, physical activities that make me listen and respect my body, like yoga, work well for this. I’m able to see how I’m showing up mentally and emotionally as well as check-in physically. If this isn’t your jam, find what works for you. Bring on full sense activation.
Ask: What do I see? Hear? Smell? What can I observe outside of me? Now go in. What physical sensations am I witnessing in the body? What’s coming up for me right now? What am I feeling in this moment?
2) Acknowledge all that arises
Be a silent witness to all that comes up for you. That’s right. No talking back, no judging or harping on those thoughts. There will be many of them as the monkey mind likes to do its thing and run all over the place. Self-criticism, jealousy, disappointment — I had a lot of those come up recently.
As you sit in meditation or slow your roll and let the thoughts come, realize that they are just that. Outside thoughts. They aren’t you. Don’t wrap them up in your identity. Thoughts don’t define you. They are ever-changing and there will be a million more of them after this second. So stop fretting. No attachment. Let them come and go like waves washing back out to sea.
The mind will want to control. You might want to edit what is coming in and out of your head. If you’re like me, maybe you want to run. Or ignore. Get busy. Numb. Find some way of avoiding all those ugly thoughts that you don’t want to face. But ignoring is a form of resistance and leaves your thoughts without an exit strategy. Allow. Let them be. Make space for them to come out in all their rawness and unfiltered form.
And still, as much as you’re itching to criticize, no comments from the peanut gallery. Let observing your thoughts be like watching TV. Maybe you can’t change the channel, but create some distance. See that this is outside of you. If you must sit through another boring infomercial or scary drama, breathe and do it.
4) Be a frequent flyer
Mindfulness is not a one-time event. It’s a constant re-commitment, a daily decision to hop back on the wagon. Because you will fall off. A lot.
At one point, I put an alarm on my phone for a midday mindfulness check-in. Using a device to help remind me to be present may seem a bit contradictory. But hey, in this distracted world we live in, some frequent reminders to tap out of the crazy and zone back into our Selves, is 100% necessary. Do what you must do until awareness is part of your everyday life.
Mindfulness is a habit that builds a conscious life. Living turned on, engaged, present in our day-day makes for a more meaningful existence.
The best gift to give to yourself and your loved ones this season?
Mindfulness. Presence. Keep an open heart and mind and expect exponential returns.
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