In today’s busy world, we are often caught up in several activities at once. Our conversations are peppered with anecdotes concerning how busy we are and the struggle to stay on top of things as we jump from one event to the next.
Getting people to slow down might seem like an impossible challenge, but with YogaTime’s Mindfulness Meditation course starting this month, it seems like the perfect time to approach the subject.
But what does it mean to “be mindful”? There are many wonderful definitions and articles circulating the Internet, all with recurring ideas of being present and objective. Something I often ask students to do at the beginning, during, and as a class ends, is to observe their breath and make a note of its depth, rhythm and pattern, without passing judgment. This in itself is mindfulness meditation.
Quite often during balance-focused asana practice, the teacher will encourage students to “find their drishti” – a focal point. This act of focusing on a single point in the present time immediately removes many distractions. A soft, steady gaze, accompanied by calm and even breathing, allows the student to experience the joy of feeling grounded and yet light in the pose. When the student is here, there are no other distractions and there is no judgment, only the present moment.
So how can we apply this to our busy lives? The next time you sit down to eat, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are you about to consume? Who made it? Are you eating it for pleasure or out of necessity?
- What does it look like? Think about colours, shapes and even patterns.
- How does it smell? Does it have a rich aroma or a light and fresh fragrance?
- As you bite into it, what does it feel like? Is it crunchy or chewy? Are there any other distinguishing textures?
- How does it taste as you chew it? Which of the many tastes does it appeal to – sour, sweet, umami…?
Whilst it might be an unreasonable request for us to eat in this manner all the time, it is certainly worth doing occasionally. The same can be done when we are drinking a cup of tea, walking in the neighbourhood, even talking to our loved ones. Quite often, the simple act of putting one’s phone away in order to focus on the task at hand, makes a significant difference to the quality of the experience.
In an ever-evolving world of technological advances and the need for speed and multi-tasking, it seems all the more important that we take the time to breathe and move and live with intention, so as to highlight the beauty of our everyday environments.
What does mindfulness mean to you, and what practices do you do to help nurture it?