For this New Year, some of you may be considering setting the intention of meditating every day. In my experience, even with the best of intentions, many people start, and then stop with a daily sitting practice. Some will come back to it, and some will give it up completely.
So I decided to write a post about an alternative approach. I found inspiration in “Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life” by Charlotte Bell. Here, she bridges the gap between meditation, mindful living and yoga.
“The practice of yoga in all its aspects allows us to connect with and dwell in awareness, our essential being…
Mindfulness is the thread that connects all aspects of yoga practice. When we give our full attention to what we are doing, we become that which is present in our experience…
When we live our lives mindfully, we live in fullness; there is no leftover residue of regret for missed opportunities.
… Mindfulness is most commonly practiced in sitting and walking meditation. If you can sit quietly for even a few minutes every day watching the flow of your breath, you will begin to strengthen the power of your mind. But mindfulness practice needn’t be confined to formal meditation.
In his book “The Miracle in Mindfulness”, Thich Nhat Hanh writes about “washing the dishes to wash the dishes”, instead of washing the dishes in order to get the cup of tea you will have afterwards. Viewed with careful attention, the experience of dishwashing yields a surprising richness of sensation – the feeling of warm, sudsy water, the smoothness and weight of the plates in your hands, the movement of scrubbing and rinsing. Any activity can become a wondrous and sacred ritual if we pay attention.
… You might begin the practice of mindful living by choosing one activity that you already do everyday. Commit to be completely present in this activity.”
What could you commit to bringing new awareness to every day?
It could be washing the dishes, washing your hands, opening the front door, showering, taking a walk, or enjoying a cup of tea. It can be any activity that you take for granted, enjoy or perhaps even resist.
Its your choice. The activity that you choose does not matter as much as the care and respect you bring to it.
I’d like to share some of my daily rituals with you:
First thing in the morning, I wash my hands with beautiful scented lavender soap.
When I open the back door I take a deep breath and really feel the outside morning with all my senses.
I have a mindfulness app called Chakra Chime that goes off at 8am and 1pm. When it does, I stop what I am doing and take a moment to scan my thoughts, emotional state, my breath and my body.
When I stop at a red light, I pause and notice my breath (Still working on that one when I run late!)
When the light stays green as I approach it I say in my mind Thank You Universe. In class, as I come into mountain pose, I look down at my feet and say out loud Thank You Feet!
Committing to being mindful is a serious commitment to finding peace of mind, but it needn’t be serious!