Developing Your Mindfulness Practice – Part 4

IMG_1628This week we will learn a walking meditation. You can do this while you walk to and from your car, take the dog for a walk or during your lunch break. Try to pick a time where you can do it at the same time everyday. Over time you can make your walk longer.

Mindfulness Practice:

Walking Mindfulness Meditation

  • To begin your walk, slow down your pace. With awareness of each step you take, step your foot heel to toe, feeling the entire foot making contact with the Earth. It might begin to feel like you are getting a nice foot massage!
  • With each step you take you can recite to yourself a mantra like, “Thank you.” (Heel touches down “thank”, ball of foot touches down “you”-repeat with each foot and each step you take).
  • Breathe deeply while you walk, try to relax the muscles in your body and your face, walking with a light step.
  • Notice how this exercise makes you feel. If you have started a Mindfulness journal, jot it down with today’s date.

By expressing gratitude for each step, you are recognizing your ability to walk and move easefully through space. You might notice that you don’t have any injuries or pain that restricts movement, that your arms swing freely, etc. Focus on the feet and the movement.

Other options: another mantra, may simple be “right, left” or “stepping”

Don’t forget to make a quick note in your mindfulness journal about your experience today. How did this experience make you feel compared to sitting and breathing?

Namaste,

Lindsay

Developing Your Mindfulness Practice – Part 2

IMG_1626Welcome to Part 2 of my new blog series on simple and easy ways to develop your own Mindfulness practice. In Part 1, I taught a basic breathing exercise to get you started. This week we will focus on how to do a Body Scan. If you practice yoga this might sound familiar. Sometimes yoga teachers guide students through a body scan during Savasana at the beginning or end of class.

Mindfulness Practice 2:

The Body Scan

  • Do this first thing in the morning when you wake up or before you go to sleep because you are already lying down. This can also be done sitting. It only takes a few minutes.
  • Lying down or sitting. Get comfortable. Start with a few rounds of deep breathing.
  • The body scan involves starting at your toes and working up to your head, noticing how each body part feels – relaxed, tight, tense, etc.  Start with your toes…. feet…. ankles…. shins…. knees…. thighs…. hips…. waist…. belly…. ribs…. chest…. low back…. upper back…. shoulders…. upper arms…. elbows…. forearms…. wrists….. hands….. neck…. jaw…. eyes…. forehead….. ears…. top/side/back of head. (If this is too much to start try only: feet….legs….torso….arms…hands….head)
  • When you come to an area that is tight or tense, send your breath (visualize if you need) to that area and give it permission to let go of holding onto to that tension and begin to relax for 5-10 breaths.
  • With practice you can get more specific and do one side of the body at a time including each toe and finger as an example.
  • When the body scan is complete, finish with  a few rounds of deep breathing. Check in with how you feel.

If you have a mindfulness journal  make a quick note about your experience.

Namaste,

Lindsay

Developing Your Mindfulness Practice – Part 1

mudraWe are all starting to hear through the media the benefits of a mindfulness practice. Starting something new can be daunting, especially when you don’t have time to attend a yoga class, workshop or seminar on meditation or mindfulness. I get it, our lives are busy. However, mindfulness works. It just takes time.

I have decided to start a new series of blog posts on how you can begin to practice Mindfulness a little bit at a time, making the process manageable and realistic. There are numerous medical studies demonstrating the benefits of Mindfulness. These benefits include but are not limited to: improved social relationships, reduction of stress, anxiety and anger, boosts memory and focus,. Now medical studies are demonstrating that mindfulness reduces chronic pain, manages stress, and helps us to feel better about ourselves.

So what is mindfulness?

mind·ful·ness
ˈmīn(d)f(ə)lnəs/
noun
  1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
  2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Mindfulness starts with developing your perceptions of being aware of what you are doing. We don’t think about breathing because it happens naturally. But when we bring our conscious attention to our breath, feeling the air enter and leave our body, then we are breathing with awareness. Practicing mindfulness means we become the observer, the witness, of our bodies and minds without attaching meaning to what is happening. This means letting go of analyzing our thoughts, or trying to create meaning out of our experiences. The observer, “sees” something, notices it, and that’s it.

As an observer of thoughts and feelings we learn to suspend judgement with practice. We get to know our bodies and minds and by doing so we become a little bit kinder to ourselves and to others. With practice the benefits extend to other areas of our lives and we begin to see and feel these changes taking place.

To develop a new habit, it requires repetition and consistency. The activities to follow are recommend to be done at the  same thing everyday. By repeating the exercise at the same time, will help you remember to do it and it will become a part of your mindfulness practice.

Each week I will post a new mindfulness training exercise. Get comfortable with it and then add another practice next week.

 Mindfulness Practice 1:

Breathing Exercise 1

  • Sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths completely filling the lungs and slowly exhaling all the air out. Continue to breath deeply. Notice how the breath feels entering and exiting the lungs through the nostrils. Perhaps you can feel the belly expand with each breath in and soften with each breath out.
  • Begin with each breath in, silently saying to yourself “I am breathing in.” Each exhale, “I am breathing out” (eventually, your inhale, you say “inhale” or “in” and on exhalation say, “exhale” or “out”).

Finding a consistent time is key. Try: when you first sit down at or your desk, or after you respond to your emails in the morning or before you start lunch. Start with 2 minutes. Set a timer. You can always go longer if you like. If day time is a not an option for you, find a time before work or in the evening where you can sit for a couple of uninterrupted minutes.

If you like, start a journal and jot down how you feel before and after each mindfulness session.

Namaste,

Lindsay