When the weather doesn’t allow me to practice in my open air shala, I roll my yoga mat out, or sit on my meditation cushion in an upstairs bedroom. This day I’m sitting, enjoying a full moon meditation. In closing, I asked the Divine Mother for guidance and to offer a lesson that I may be in need of. Walking downstairs I miss the bottom step and end in a heap on the floor – shaken but unhurt. Mmmmm….today’s lesson is mindfulness off the mat.
What I’ve learnt…..
1 Increased awareness of inward and outward body movement
When my focus turns inward I begin to notice sensations within my body. These sensations may be pleasant or unpleasant; fluid or static; I just become aware of what is happening within. I really feel how I move, the lightness or heaviness of my foot fall, I attune to my balance and feel grounded in my whole being. I am finally living in my body, enlivening my body. Without realizing I’ve started to disengage from my mental distractions. Calmness and ease in the body – Calmness and peace in the mind.
2 Stress and anxiety levels are reduced
Today, for the most part, we are living stressful, busy lives. One situation feeds the next and it is difficult to stop the repeating cycle of overwhelm. When I’m facing an unsettling, upsetting issue I now manage to see I’m again falling into the grips of that unwanted emotion and mind-set. I use the simple technique of focusing on my breath, slowing it down, feeling it flowing in and out and instantly begin to feel grounded and peaceful. I’m now able to tackle the problem with a clear perspective, not from an emotive reaction.
3 Hello….tolerance and compassion
I’ve always put high expectations on family and friends, having preconceived ideas of how they should respond to me, or for me, in a given situation. With my growing self-awareness I’m learning to let go of those expectations, and just accept what is, not needing to change anything. I’m more tolerant and patient with others and starting to really understand the true meaning of compassion. Relationships have changed…..and will continue to change, (some will deepen and some will fade.)
4 Appreciation for the simple things
We all want to be happy, and we’ve been conditioned to believe that happiness is found in someone or something ‘out there’, beyond us. Through the practice of mindfulness I’ve come to understand that true happiness is found within, and being grateful for all I do have in my life, today. To be honest, it doesn’t mean that I’m happy with how things have turned out at times, there are things I would love to change! But I can’t….so I’m mindful of all I’ve had in my life, excited about what the future may hold, and take pleasure in the simple things of life – a beautiful sunset, the magical aura of the full moon, a delicate flower slowly opening to the sun, the cool breeze on a hot summer’s day, the rain that fills my water supply! We don’t need the ‘big’ things to feel our heart expand.
5 Enough - stop the self-criticism
Being mindful of our thoughts can be enlightening. I don’t know how many times I’ve caught myself berating pathetic, useless and hopeless Julie….at times it even felt good to confirm to myself how inadequate I am. Why do we find it acceptable to beat ourselves up? Through the practice of slowing down and examining my thoughts I’ve identified these negative and toxic thoughts and know they do not serve me in any way. It’s been difficult to turn these thoughts around and instead consciously choose empowering, healthy thoughts. But it is so worth it! The result has been an in-born sense of confidence and acceptance of me….just as I am….today. Yesterday has gone – nothing can be undone. Tomorrow is a new day – that’s not here yet.
I love the liberation I feel….what is my next lesson??