Almost a year ago I did one of S.N Goenka’s Vipassana meditation courses. I sat in meditation for 11 hours a day for 10 days. It was awful and amazing and cleansing and disturbing and life altering and very, very hard. I loved and hated every minute of it. I wanted to walk out every day, and I never wanted to leave. I knew when I drove away on the last day of the program that I would be back. I knew that it couldn’t be my first and only course. But I haven’t practiced Vipassana meditation for a single day since.
I’m ok with that though, see, I don’t think it matters how we meditate. I just think it matters that we do.
“The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices (much like the term sports) that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force and develop love, patience, generosity and forgiveness”. The single pointed concentration that we might imagine when we think of meditation is a very ambitious form of meditation – particularly for beginners – but it’s just one way of many.
Resilient Living Expert, Dr Amit Sood suggests that while turning inward is effective in dealing with direct external threats, some of our most direct threats in modern society are actually internal and therefore turning our brains to the outside is an easier option. Meditation, then, becomes about being mindful. Mindfulness is about being present. It is about being in the moment. It is about inviting compassion, kindness, gratitude and forgiveness into our thoughts.
Here are 5 easy and fun ways to bring mindfulness into your everyday life.
- Give thanks
An attitude of gratitude is one of the greatest predictors of overall happiness. I have been keeping a list of “really good things” for years and it has changed my life. Being mindful of what we are thankful for is also a great way to bring our attention to the moment and to what is in front of us.
- Notice details
Notice the scent of your partner’s shampoo, the colour of the sky, the smell of the rain of the earth beneath your feet. Feel the solid ground, the texture of the sand or the grass. Notice the air on your skin, the texture of a petal. Stop and smell the flowers, literally.
- Savour food
We need to eat, but so often preparing meals feels like a chore, and we eat in a rush. Try slowing down and savouring the experience. Prepare food with love. Sit down to eat and really taste your food. Then do the dishes to bring the meal to a complete end.
- Celebrate moments
Be in each moment completely. If you are sitting with your partner, turn off your phone and be there. If you are reading to your kids, do so without running your to do list through your head. When you are at work, focus on your tasks wholly, without wishing you were somewhere else. And when you’re not at work, switch off about all the stuff that’s waiting to be done. Be present. Celebrate each moment.
- Be loving
Give love to all that you do. Love is the magic ingredient in everything. Work with a loving heart. Take loving steps towards your dreams. And love, love, love your people. Through giving love, feel your heart expand.
(*** This article also appeared on DoYouYoga)