3 Tips for Cultivating Mindfulness

How to practice mindfulness

Want to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness in your daily life? Here are a few tips…

“Mindfulness” has become somewhat of a buzzword these days – even outside of yoga circles. Becoming more mindful is supposed to help us enjoy life more, or be more productive, or have better focus, or something like that… But according to surveys, most people have their own assumptions about what mindfulness really means.

Here is the actual dictionary definition: “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, used as a therapeutic technique.”

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If you’re still not sure how mindfulness will actually benefit you, or how to become more mindful in your daily life, yoga instructor Brett Larkin has a few tips for you:

1. Get out of your head.

When you’re truly present, you’re not thinking about the past or future. You’re rooted firmly in this moment with the sights, smells, and sensations that are around you right now.

When I’m in yoga class, this means striving to enjoy the pose I’m in (instead of wondering what we’re going to do next) and focusing on the ambiance of the studio—the light, the colors, the music (instead of thinking about where I’m going after class).

The concept of getting out of your head and into your body extends way beyond the studio. As opposed to texting or composing an email, focus on tasting every flavor in the chai latte in front of you. Rather than thinking about how to interject in a meeting, notice the overall energy of the conference room, truly listen to what your boss has to say, and notice that his consistent pencil tapping means he’s nervous. When you simply take note of the tense energy (instead of subconsciously being a part of it), you crack a joke to set people’s fears at ease instead of just launching into your presentation. Boom—mindfulness scores you a promotion.

2. Let go of preconceptions.

…When you’re fully present, you stop listening to your brain’s endless narrative about what happened in the past, who’s to blame, why it was unfair, etc. Instead you focus only on the facts in front of you using your physical senses, kind of like a toddler tasting ice cream for the first time.

Pay attention the next time you’re judging something or someone based on a past experience. Then take a deep breath and try to cultivate the awe of a little kid as you see, smell, touch, and react to what’s actually in front of you. News flash: Realizing you’re not always right can be liberating!

3. Ditch knee-jerk reactions.

Many mindfulness practices talk about acceptance without action. For example, as opposed to focusing on how satisfying it would be to punch the person who just snagged the last taxi in sight (or actually punching them), notice how anger feels in your body. Perhaps it feels like your stomach tightening, your jaw clenching, or your shoulders rising.

Mindfulness teaches that all emotions—good and bad—are simply energy. Once you realize this, you can choose to breathe, relax your body, and channel that stream of angry thoughts (and curse words) into a sigh.

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At the most basic level, being more present in your body and less caught up in narratives in your head is what mindfulness is truly all about.

Read more at Greatist.com

 

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About the author

Rose S.


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