Over and over again mindfulness has been proven to both spiritually and scientifically calm the mind, ground the body, and increase overall well-being and good health.
Yet, when it comes to practicing mindfulness, many of us quickly get bored, distracted or frustrated.
And eventually, mindfulness is a concept that rapidly gets shoved somewhere on our mental “to do” list. How is it possible for 21st-century people who DON’T live in monasteries to incorporate mindfulness practices into their lives? Is mindfulness even compatible with our busy and hectic lifestyles?
1. Witness your breath
How many times have you tried to breathe slowly, only to find yourself getting lightheaded or panicky? I know that when I’m feeling stressed, the worst thing for me to do is to try and control my breathing. Instead of feeling relaxed, I feel more edgy and suffocated. The better alternative to controlling your breath is to witness it.
In order to witness your breath, you must consciously stop yourself in the present moment and simply observe what your breathing is doing. For example, if you’re breathing shallowly from your upper chest, simply witness and allow that breathing to happen. Soon, the very act of witnessing and allowing will calm you down, giving you the space to deepen your breathing if you wish. Perhaps your breath might be rapid and jagged, or neutral and deep — allow it.
2. Feel your inner body
This technique was inspired by Eckhart Tolle in his book “A New Earth” where he mentions the subtle energy inside us which he calls the “inner body.”
In order to feel your inner body, simply draw attention to one area of your body, such as your hand, foot, chest or head. Allow yourself to feel the life force energy in one particular area. For example, let your attention settle fully on your hand. What does the inner body feel like there? Is it heavy, tingly, warm, buzzing?
Eventually, you can draw awareness to other areas of your body until you can fully feel the inner body. With practice, you will be able to become aware of the inner body even while talking with others. This mindfulness practice also allows you to loosen your identification with your body, making it a good tool for spiritual awakening.
3. Do a walking meditation
One of my favorite mindfulness practices is the walking meditation. The cool thing about this practice is that you can incorporate it into your daily exercise regime. Walking meditation is very simple and extremely grounding.
All it involves is becoming aware of the sensation of the ground beneath your feet. I like to feel the rhythm of my feet, and what it feels like to walk in different shoes such as sneakers, flip-flops, sandals — as well as the texture of the earth, whether it is soft, gravelly, slippery or hard. To practice walking meditation, allow your focus to rest in the movements of your feet. Literally, “put yourself in the shoes” of your feet and purely experience what they are experiencing.
Remember, no sensation has to be “better” or “worse” than another. The purpose of mindfulness is to not only live in the moment, but to also become aware of the thoughts that arise in your mind and let them go.
4. Gratitude prayer
Saying a prayer of thanks for what you have every day is one of the most transformative mindfulness practices out there. Gratitude can only ever exist in the present moment, thus, it is the perfect mindfulness tool. When we are lost in our thoughts, it’s so easy for us to take what we have for granted and constantly seek for more.
Gratitude grounds us in the here and now. Whether you believe in God, Life, Spirit, science — it doesn’t matter —verbalise your thanks either silently or out loud, and you will become more present-minded. In fact, the very act of gratitude requires us to become aware of all the good we have right now. Source