When we're not being mindful, life moves by in the blink of an eye. Tendencies to overstuff our schedules, to stay plugged in as slaves to technology all hours of the day, and to constantly strive for more can and will rob us of our precious presence. We've glorified busy and achievement. It's our culture. And, as a result, people, overall, actually feel less happy and connected than ever. (Just look at stats on depression, anxiety, and stress-related illnesses. Now that's depressing!)
Don't get me wrong. It's amazing that we can communicate and do business with people all over the world without ever having to leave our house (or even get dressed up in something fancier than yoga pants). But, in many ways, we're actually less connected than ever: to ourselves, to our friends and family, to our purpose, to this moment. Instead, we get pulled into an endless sea of information and into the busy cycle of constantly do-ing. Whatever happened to be-ing? How about that sweetness of actually LIVING fully in the moment?
When we don't take time to pause, savor, and reflect, it's a recipe for disconnect and anxiety. Our mind, body, and soul absolutely crave moments of stillness to recharge and reflect. To just be. It keeps us human. It keeps us sane.
While the world is not going to slow down for any of us, we get to choose at what level we decide to participate in the chaos. By cultivating mindfulness in our everyday lives, we become more in tune with our true selves, more connected to one another, and more able to find true peace and balance while making our mark in the world.
Here are 21 subtle shifts that you can easily implement right away and they will help you to live your life NOW!
- Start your day with moments of zen. Spend 10 minutes in stillness each morning, while your head is still groggy from sleep, and before getting on with your crazy day. Those precious moments will help you connect to a more grounded, focused, and intentional you, which will stay with you all day long. And if you hear yourself saying, "I don't have 10 minutes," then you need this time more than most! Do it in the evening, if you have to. Just find a time you can commit to. It's called a meditation practice for a reason: the more you do, the more benefits you will reap.
- Connect movement with breath. Breathing is one of the most precious resources we have when it comes to staying connected to the moment. When breathing syncs with movement, as in yoga, we not only learn to cultivate and direct the flow of energy (prana) in our body, we're also developing much greater mindfulness. When our mind and body connect on a deeper level, we learn to better deal with distractions and stress... and this loveliness even stays with us off the yoga mat.
- Honor your passion. Our passion points us toward our purpose. In making this connection, we are living more in alignment with our divine selves. Simply do something that you love every single day, even if only for a few minutes. Don't wait until tomorrow, which turns into next week, next month, and next year. The future is not promised to any of us. The time to live like you mean it is now!
- Eat mindfully... not in front of your computer or TV. This one is hard sometimes (I know!) but especially when we are busy, we need to slow down. Make it a point to enjoy a meal with your friends or family and listen wholeheartedly while sharing your day. Or, if eating alone, be sure to savor each bite, really enjoy the flavors and appreciate the nourishment you are providing your body. (Bonus: Studies shows a connection between mindful eating and maintaining healthy weight.)
- Recite this two word "prayer" daily: "thank you." Say it and mean it with every core of your body. Gratitude is both humbling and empowering. It keeps us connected to the moment with appreciation and reverence.
- Speak your truth. Say "no" when you mean it and without apology. And speak up when something matters... even if your voice shakes. When we find ourselves living fully in our truth (rather than trying to make everybody else happy or gain their approval), it's much
easier to be content and happy living in the present.
- Connection: in-the-flesh. Texts, emails, and social media are a great way to stay in touch as are phone calls, but nothing beats some quality one-on-one time and an in-the-flesh hug. Our connection to others helps us to stay more connected to ourselves.
- Let go of the past. Take the lessons with you, sure. But don't cling to them with a deadly grip or get hung up on should-haves and regrets. The past is over, never to be relived again. This moment is where it's at. Always.
- Stop future tripping. Likewise, don't get caught up worrying and daydreaming about the future. Of course, have vision and intention, and work towards building the life of your dreams. But, don't get so tangled up in the details that you become robbed of your present moment bliss.
- Tune in to intuition. Our powerful inner-GPS system is there to help lead us to the decisions, people, places, and things that will allow us to grow into our highest and best self. Learning to frequently go inward for guidance helps us to mindfully become more attuned to this primal wisdom.
- Make the time. When asked on their deathbed what one might have done differently, the number one response is "spend more time with friends and family." This is what brings the most meaning and enrichment to our lives. Reach out often and without reason... before it's too late.
- Write in a gratitude journal/jar. Documenting our many blessings feels good in-the-moment, and also gives us something to look back and reflect on. Especially on a rough day, nothing lifts us up faster than a beautiful reminder of all that we have to be grateful for. Our blessings are infinite, if we only get into the right mindset to open our eyes and heart to them.
- Set your kid at heart free. Sing in the shower, dance in the rain, skip down the street. Do whatever makes your feel happy and alive. Don't box it all and worry too much about appearing "grown up." Let loose. Have fun. This is your life.
- Learn to meditate or commit to a deeper practice. For the many who say they don't meditate because it's too hard or they don't know how, I invite you to give it another shot. Take a class or seek guidance from someone who does it on the regular. If you can breathe, you can meditate! The rest just takes a little practice and patience. It's the best investment you can make in yourself and only costs you a little bit of your time. For those who meditate regularly, I invite you to consider how you can deepen your practice. Maybe you go a little longer, a little more frequently, try a different technique, or even pay it forward by teaching others? This is the fastest way to build your own mindfulness muscles.
- See the beauty all around you. The Earth is one glorious and amazing canvas painted by the most talented artists with the most vibrant colors and the most beautiful sounds. Earth is art for us to devour. Open your eyes, your ears, your heart, your mind. Become a vessel to freely receive this beauty.
- Practice everyday mindfulness. Be present when you brush your teeth, savor your tea or coffee. Instead of letting your mind wander, let normal everyday moments become mindful moments. In turn, you are training your brain to become more focused in each moment as it comes. The benefits from this are endless: health, sanity, relationships, productivity, peace of mind, and more.
- Take walks in nature. It's healing, soul-nurturing, and a fast way to connect back to YOU! Step out for some fresh air next time you need to shift your focus or energy. The earth is incredibly grounding.
- Create. We are all creative beings and born to create (whether or not we acknowledge it). So grab a paintbrush, a pen and paper, your dancing shoes, an instrument, a gardening shovel, a spatula, or whatever medium of your choosing, and make something beautiful! Your soul will thank you endlessly.
- Be conscious of the energy around you. Surround yourself with kindred spirits and those who lift you up. We are a product of our environment. So, clear out whatever is bringing negative vibes to your space, and reap the benefits of vibrating at a higher consciousness.
- Try new experiences. We should never stop trying to learn and grow. Step outside of your comfort zone and push some new boundaries. What are you most afraid of? Conquer that fear! Just allow yourself to be the beginner and you cannot fail and anything you do.
- Don't take life too seriously. Really, it's not that serious! Learn to laugh at yourself. Let go quickly. Love deeply. Everything is perfect, just as it is. Even when it seems anything but, trust that it is all unfolding as it should. Be here, joyfully, in this moment.
By regularly adopting some of these practices that resonate with you (or all of them, if you're an overachiever), you will find yourself becoming more in tune with your true self. You might just learn to more easily go with the flow, let go of the past, and quit worrying about the future. As a result, you may experience more peace and happiness while being more productive and having deeper and more meaningful relationships. Sound too good to be true? Try it for yourself. Mindfulness is where it's at. Enjoy this moment!
Dawn Gluskin is author of forthcoming Type-A Zen. Subscribe here to receive notifications when the book is launched in fall of 2015!! For more inspiration, follow on Facebook & Instagram.