Cultivating a Mindful Lifestyle
January 1, 2019
Ahhh, a fresh start! This is the year that I will meditate for 20 minutes every day; I will be mindful in all experiences. Loving-kindness and compassion is my motto for 2019! Breathe in ... breathe out! I got this.
January 2, 2019
Yay, day two! I knew I could do this. Breathe in, breathe out with loving-kindness. I’ll meditate 10 minutes now and 10 minutes at lunch.
January 3, 2019
Okay. Today I’ll get back on track. I did pretty good with awareness yesterday. Loving kindness would be easier if people just learned how to drive! Don’t they know its winter? Oops! Compassion and kindness! Breathe in, breathe out. I can do this.
January 6, 2019
Why did I think I have time to meditate? I’m not going to live in an Ashram. Hey, maybe I should try yoga … that’s like meditating!
Sounds familiar? We start off with the best of intentions and quickly run out of enthusiasm, time and energy to maintain a rigid routine. Before long, missing one day leads to two, with a promise to start fresh Monday morning, or next week or next month.
So ... What is mindfulness?
Most have some sense of what mindfulness means and yet it remains unclear as to what it means to ME, in my everyday life. No surprise considering that Google offers about 187,000,000 results to mindfulness. Definitions are helpful in that they provide a common understanding; an opening for discussion.
Merriam-Webster Definition of mindfulness. 1: the quality or state of being mindful. 2: the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis also: such a state of awareness.
Definitions include re-occurring themes: awareness and acceptance of one’s thoughts, emotions, and sensations, while experiencing the present moment.
Well … for many, our lives are so filled with doing, being ‘on’ and having more, that 'multi-tasking’ is our motto and ‘busy’ is a badge of honour. We are very experienced in being ‘mindless’, racing from one obligation to another while juggling multiple roles and responsibilities. Often, we are reviewing the past or planning the future. If exhaustion and discontent are your daily companions and the elusive ‘someday’ is an unrealized reward, perhaps you wonder it there’s another way.
Mindfulness doesn’t require that you ‘do more’. Being Mindful is an invitation to pause, settle into this moment and engage your sense of wonder. Allow yourself to become aware of your surroundings, your thoughts, and your feelings. And breathe. Just notice the air in your nostrils, throat, and lungs. Just for a moment, accept and appreciate yourself, breathe and be still, with compassion and curiosity.
Cultivating a mindful lifestyle is much more than meditating 20 minutes a day. A mindful lifestyle is an attitude that, when combined with small, consistent efforts provides a significant increase to our well-being.
In the beginning, mindfulness practice may include your mind going something like this: Mindfulness, ok, I’m ready! OK, breathe in, breathe out. Ow, my back hurts. Breathe into it. How do I breathe into my back? Am I doing it right? Oh yeah, no right or wrong, just be with it. How do I be with it, what does that mean? Let it go! Ok, I can do that. Breathe in, let go, breathe out. Where does it go? Be here now. Ok, let go and be here now. Okay, I got this. HUMMMMMM, oh wait a minute, maybe it’s Ohmmmm. What’s the difference? Which is better? Oh yeah, no judgement; both are good. Compassion and curiosity. Curious = curiosity killed the cat! Who comes up with these sayings? Wonder ... How does wonder fit in? Remember that show, what was it called? Wonder boy? The Wonder Years!! That’s it! Wait a minute, how did I get here?
Cultivating a mindful lifestyle requires practice and patience. With practice, your mind chatter will wind down, like a child’s toy. Just when you think you’ve ‘got it’, you may discover that your mind still has lots to say. Mindfulness is less about trying to achieve ‘no thinking’ and more about becoming aware of when your mind has ‘gone for a stroll around the block’.
Mindfulness Executive Summary ABC’s
A: Attitude, acceptance and appreciation
B: Be still, breathe and be still
C: Curiosity, compassion and commitment
Cultivating a mindful lifestyle is a practice that will evolve in the ebb and flow of life, while encouraging you to be mindfully present and bring forth more of who you are, here and now.
When we allow ourselves to be silent, without demands or pressure to ‘DO’ anything, something shifts. When we stop chasing all that we should or ‘have to’ be or do; silence speaks to the essence of who we are. And that is worth cultivating!
This article originally appeared in WHOLifE Journal – January/February 2019
Submitted by Lorie Harrison, who was our Saskatoon Victor Walk Coordinator when we toured Saskatchewan in July of 2017:
Lorie is a registered counsellor, mindfulness coach and certified Lifestyle Meditation teacher. Managing Legacy Ridge Foundation Trauma Resource and Recovery Centre in Saskatoon, Lorie is inspired by resilience, courage and the capacity for change. As the owner of Mindfully Present Training & Counselling, Lorie facilitates workshops exploring mindfulness, self-awareness, and meditation as lifestyle practices. You can find her at www.mindfullypresent.ca or contact email@example.com.