Take a Mindful Moment: 5 Simple Practices for Daily Life

Take a Mindful Moment: 5 Simple Practices for Daily Life

Set your intention. By doing so it becomes more likely that your words, actions and responses— especially during moments of difficulty—will be more mindful and compassionate.

Intention refers to the underlying motivation for everything we think, say, or do. From the brain’s perspective, when we act in unintended ways, there’s a disconnect between the unconscious impulses of the lower brain centers and the conscious, wiser abilities of the higher centers like the pre-frontal cortex.

Given that the unconscious brain is in charge of most of our decision-making and behaviors, this practice can help you align your conscious thinking with your primal emotional drive.

This practice is best done first thing in the morning, before checking phones or email.

Mindful Wakeup: Start with a Purpose

  1. On waking, sit in your bed or a chair in a relaxed posture.Close your eyes and connect with the sensations of your seated body. Make sure your spine is straight, but not rigid.
  2. Take three long, deep, nourishing breaths—breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then let your breath settle into its own rhythm, as you simply follow it in and out, noticing the rise and fall of your chest and belly as you breathe.
  3. Ask yourself: “What is my intention for today?”Use these prompts to help answer that question, as you think about the people and activities you will face. Ask yourself:

How might I show up today to have the best impact?

What quality of mind do I want to strengthen and develop?

What do I need to take better care of myself?

During difficult moments, how might I be more compassionate to others and myself?

How might I feel more connected and fulfilled?

  1. Set your intention for the day.For example,“Today, I will be kind to myself; be patient with others; give generously; stay grounded; persevere; have fun; eat well,” or anything else you feel is important.
  2. Throughout the day, check in with yourself.Pause, take a breath, and revisit your intention. Notice, as you become more and more conscious of your intentions for each day, how the quality of your communications, relationships, and mood shifts.

 

This article also appeared in the April 2016 issue of Mindful magazine.

Another Type of Morning

Another Type of Morning

We all do it! We wake up in the morning thinking about what we need to accomplish in the hours ahead of us. Or we mull over the details of what happened to us the day before – good and bad. It’s the kids, or an ailing parent, or bills that need to get paid. It’s an inconsiderate manager or coworker, or a nagging headache. Our thoughts become perpetual, forming themselves into full-on entities causing worry, anxiety and stress. At some point, our thoughts become real, the anxiety heightens and we bolt out the door challenged to make something of the day bringing all the heaviness of those worries and anxieties with us.

We now know that, from volumes of research and scientific data, this type of morning is not the morning we should wake up to. This is not the morning that fuels our compassion for ourselves or others. These are not the thoughts that serve our spirit or our health. This type of morning, with the noise from our thoughts, the distractions of television, or a need to engage in all that is digital before breakfast, is not the morning that serves our souls.

So, what to do about this morning, this troublesome morning, this highly kinetic and energetic morning? What do we do about the cumulative affect of these mornings on our inner peace and well-being.

WE STOP.  WE TAKE A DEEP BREATH. AND THEN, WE BREATHE AGAIN.  And with each breath, we release and let go. We suspend those thoughts and the energetic activity for a few minutes to simply be in “the moment”.

Now as simple as this sounds, it is one of great challenge to many of us who think the morning should start in 3rd gear.  This other type of morning, this new morning, is a “no gear” morning. It is a mindful morning.  We start it by doing nothing except to pay attention to the breath. And in that breath, we inhale all of the thoughts we want to turn into realities in that moment, and we release them. We let them go as we exhale. Not to worry, they are our thoughts. They will be back. But this is a new way of taming those thoughts and the many thoughts that will follow. INHALE . . . EXHALE. We may not even get out of bed right away. We may just lay there for a few minutes, breathing and being.

That’s the other morning, simple, unobstructed, undisturbed, unchained and unhooked.

Try it and let me know how your “other morning” feels.

7 Ingredients to Simple Design

7 Ingredients to Simple Design

I’ve found that some of the best and most beautiful designs are simple and understated. This approach to design can be easy on the budget, your time and your well-being, I recommend it for individuals working with at tight budget or a small space.

There are 7 key ingredients for simple and awesome: (more…)

Picturing Peace

Picturing Peace

I describe myself as spiritual and not religious. I practice yoga and meditation because it seems to settle and center me. I also tend to eat and sleep better. I like being at peace and relish my quiet times. I am in a job that can become extremely noisy during the day, so I can’t wait to get home to my serenity.

I have often thought that I could enhance my practice and my state of being by creating a visual reminder that beckons me to my practice and that immediately settles my mind and my spirit. But creating an altar seemed to be more than what I wanted to do. Many altars seemed to be more distracting to me than settling, so I avoided them. Then, one day, while shopping for candles, I saw this painting. As soon as I gazed upon it, I took a deep breath and my shoulders relaxed. I knew this was the piece that my empty shelf was waiting for! The peaceful pose, the neutral colors and subtle contrast in line and texture settled my soul, so I brought it home. And now I gaze upon it, become completely relaxed and pull out my yoga mat for my practice, sometimes twice a day.

As a designer, this was a perfect piece because it represents my design aesthetic by complimenting the distressed furniture and the eclectic decor in the room.
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