Try these seven easy ways to make 2017 a mindful year for you.
Mindfulness means deliberately returning your awareness to the moments of your day while cultivating acceptance in your life.
How can you cultivate these qualities in 2017? Use these tips to make your year mindful:
1. Set an intention. Remind yourself every morning that you intend to be mindful during the day. Intention can make all the difference by creating a mindful attitude. As you get out of bed, or immediately after you wake up, tell yourself that “I intend to be mindful today.”
2. Get the day off to a good start. Do a yoga position whilst cleaning your teeth e.g. A balance position such as Tree pose – strengthening your body and acting as a reminder re mindfulness. Attaching a yoga pose to existing habits or patterns it is easier to integrate yoga into your daily life. (You may find other times in the day where you can add a yoga pose to an existing habit or task).
3. Find your anchor point and use it. Your “anchor point” is whatever most easily returns you to the moment. For me it’s the sensation of my breath at my nostrils. For others it can be the rise and fall of the chest, the feeling of their feet against the soles of their shoes, awareness of their posture or the use of a silent word such as “returning.” Let the anchor point return you to the moment many times a day.
4. Do a body scan if you wake up during the night. Instead of drifting into worries or other negativity when you wake up at night, bring your attention to your body from your toes to the top of your head, in stages (for instance toes, feet, calves etc). Rest your attention on each area for the length of three in-breaths and out-breaths. Whenever your mind drifts, bring it back to whatever part of your body you are at. (Like our practice in yoga relaxation).
5. Eat and drink with awareness. Notice the taste and texture of food and drink. This doesn’t mean you have to eat ridiculously slowly or in silence. It’s really a matter of knowing you’re eating while you’re eating. It’s a great opportunity to practise mindfulness and you’ll even enjoy your food more. If being mindful for the entire meal is too much, try being mindful for the first minute of the meal.
5. Try a little acceptance at the start of the day. Each morning, look over what you are going to have to do today and accept it. This could include an annoying task, an unpleasant meeting or any of the other challenges in our day. Just accept it. This need only take a minute or so, for instance before you get out of bed in the morning, having breakfast, waiting for a train or bus.
6. Add a “no problem solving” period to your day. Adding a reminder bell/sound to your mobile phone may help. Our addiction to endlessly mulling over problems and possibilities takes us away from the moment. Some of this is necessary but we overdo it. Choose a short period every day during which you promise not to solve a single problem in your life! During that time you will find it much easier to be present and mindful. Try it at lunchtime or when you’re walking, for instance.
7. Practice yoga regularly. Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. Find a class (at least weekly) which suits you. Regular practice will help develop mindfulness as well as building strength, flexibility and calmness. Millions of people around the world will be practicing with you.
(Adapted from Padraig O’Morain, Mindfulness author and teacher)