Cultivating Mindfulness in Our Everyday Lives
All month we’ve been talking about mindfulness, and today I want to leave you with some practices that will help you to begin cultivating mindfulness in your everyday.
What is mindfulness? The term gets thrown around a lot these days. It’s particularly hot and trendy to talk about mindfulness…but what does it really mean?
To be mindful is to pay attention to what’s actually happening in your experience.
It sounds so obvious that you would think, “aren’t we always doing that?” Actually no.
More often than not we are lost in thought. Our minds like to live in the past and in the future. You might catch yourself replaying or reliving something in the past, OR you’re planning for or fixating on something that’s happening in the future. Neither of those places is right here, right now. While it’s super easy for our minds to get caught up in the past or future OUR BODY, lucky for us, is always in the present moment.
Our body is our number one resource for cultivating mindfulness.
There are tremendous benefits to cultivating mindfulness:
We have a depth of connection with ourselves and people around us.
We experience less depression and less anxiety.
We have a greater overall sense of wellbeing as well as a confidence in our ability to handle what comes up.
I want to leave you with what, in retreats, we refer to as “S.S.S.” These are practices you can take with you anywhere, anytime and we like to call them “doorways to the now.”
The Three S’s
The first is SILENCE. Now, before you go thinking you have to run off and meditate for hours a day or something ridiculous, it doesn’t mean that. It just means taking a pause to notice the silence that underlies everything.
I like to do this in the first moment I get in the car, before I buckle my seatbelt or put the keys in the ignition. I just pause, take a breath and sink in to being present with what I’m doing.
Those types of little moments really add up over time. It could be before you walk out the door, before you get dressed in the morning…I have a meditation teacher that would tell you to do this when you sit down to pee. Everybody pees and you do it multiple times a day so it’s the perfect place to just pause and get present to the silent and stillness. Even if it’s noisy! What’s so interesting is that when you start practicing this one, you start to notice the silence is always there, even when it’s vague.
The second S is SENSING. Awaken your senses. you can put your attention on one sense to start. Just listen. Just look. Just smell.
A great place to start practicing this is when you wash your hands. Of all the times per day you wash your hands, could you tell me if the water was hot or cold, or what it felt like? Do you appreciate the feeling of your hands touching each other? Awaken your world to the senses around you.
The third S -- SAY YES. Whatever is happening in your experience, can you say, “yes?” Stop fighting or pushing it away and just allow it to be there.
There is traffic and you’re sitting in it, you’re tense…that little part of you inside is just saying, “no.” You don’t want things to be this way, and you just want out. Saying an internal no is only going to cause you suffering. So, how can you say, “yes?” Notice how your whole world can soften and open up inside of that acceptance.
You can practice S.S.S. all together, all at once.
Imagine your alarm goes off at 5:30 am. Your natural instincts make you say “no,” but if you practice S.S.S. you pause for a moment to appreciate the silence. You feel the weight of your body on the bed and the sheets on your skin. It’s time to get up. You say,” yes,” to this day, “yes” to getting started and “yes” to life.
I offer this as a starting point. Starting in the body, right where you are is perfect. Remember S.S.S. You don’t have to do them all at once; if you can just remember one “S” during any given moment and tap into that it will help bring you into whatever moment in which you find yourself. Anytime we can be more present we experience greater fulfillment—ALWAYS.