3 Exercises in Mindfulness: How to Turn Autopilot Off and Fully Occupy Your Existence
Do you ever hop in your car to go somewhere far off, and feel as though you’ve arrived in just a matter of minutes? Do you ever walk into a room, only to forget what you needed to do? Do you scurry to the break room at work to scarf down your lunch, but barely notice what your food tastes like? Have you ever made a cup of tea and become so engrossed in other things that you let it grow cold?
These are not crimes, nor are they life-or-death situations….but these habits are more harmful to you than you might realize. What you are actually doing is living your life on autopilot—moving through life without consciousness of your present moment. This is something that I did for a very long time, and now make a concerted effort each day to attempt not to do. I found that by living in such a detached way, I was making choices for myself without proper thought or attention, and I was hurting others by being oblivious to how my actions affected them.
I’ll let you in on the secret to reversing the damage that living unconsciously and has had on your life: Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is about being aware of the present—your body, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and the environment around you. By centering your focus on the present moment, you open yourself up to fully experiencing yourself and your life. Studies have shown that mindfulness is actually being implemented in specific ways to benefit our troops, help students improve their retention of information, and change brain chemistry to protect against mental illness. The power of mindfulness is evident, but it is also an activity ripe with inspiration, self-knowledge, and self-expression, providing us with moments to truly grapple with existence. As Jon Kabat- Zinn states, “It is surpassingly interesting, revealing and awe-provoking when we show up for [life] wholeheartedly and pay attention to the particulars.”
Here are three exercises you can try today to help you bring you to a place of mindfulness and peace.
1. Observe Your Breath for 60 Seconds
This is an exercise that you can do anywhere, at any time. Whether you are riding the bus or train, sitting at your desk at work, or laying in bed as you try to sleep. Simply observe the inhalation and exhalation of your breath for 60 seconds. Begin by breathing in slowly for a count of 6, and exhaling for a count of 6. Your mind may begin to wander and your thoughts may drift to other things. Do not scold yourself, but rather lovingly invite your thoughts back to your breath and the present moment. Observe your breath with each of your senses--feel your body fill with air, watch as your chest expands. If you have found it difficult to meditate, give yourself a pat on the back because by doing this exercise, you are half way there!
2. Turn Your Routine into a Ritual
Instead of rushing through your day-to-day to do’s, attempt to fully occupy each aspect of your routine. Assign each activity a purpose or symbolic meaning. Rather than standing in your shower thinking of what lies ahead for the day, begin to notice your body, really experience yourself and honor your vessel, treating it with love and care as you clean yourself. Or, imagine that you are holding a ritual where you cleanse away the worries, problems, and troubles of the day and make yourself anew. Try doing some Reiki on your food before you consume it, and as you eat, be conscious of the way that it is nourishing your body and soul. Everything from brushing your teeth to going for a run can be turned into a ceremony or ritual to celebrate YOU. This kind of loving thought makes every moment a moment of mindfulness.
3. Be Someplace You Love…For the First Time
Visit your favorite spot—whether it is a quiet corner in your home, or your preferred coffee shop or record store—and truly observe every part of that space. Notice the nuances of that space. Take in the sounds, smells, and sights of that place. Try observing the parts of it that you would usually allow to flutter by unnoticed. Even if you only hear the hum of the air conditioning or the creaking of a window, through knowing that space more intimately and drawing your attention into that moment, you will know yourself more intimately.
By practicing these small and simple exercises each day, you will begin to expand your awareness of yourself and your environment, as well as relieve stress and stay centered in your daily life.
" I feel fully connected to my experience of this present moment. I embrace this moment and know that I am opening myself up to experiencing more blessings and abundance by mindfully occupying this space and time."
Take time for YOU today, babes. You are deserving and divine. Namaste. xo