Cool, calm and collected.
Is that how you like to operate? But finding that space in the general hubbub of busyness and mayhem that makes up so much of our daily life and work can be hard.
That’s why becoming more mindful is so useful. Mindfulness is the practice of “being in the present moment.” It’s a way of “being” that allows you to distil what needs to be attended to right now without all the surrounding clutter of emotional baggage, wishful thinking and regret.
But how do you find the right moment for this, when all moments are already accounted for? For many, finding or making this time can be a challenge, even for ten minutes.
I like to do my meditative practice in the morning. I find it sets me up beautifully for the rest of the day.
But I like to do my exercise first thing as well. So sometimes it can feel a tussle, which to do first and which to defer to later in the day if my schedule demands.
The solution comes from doing it in combination.
Many people associate doing their mindfulness practice while sitting quietly. But that’s not the only way. Practising mindfulness while moving or exercising is just as effective. Perhaps you’re doing this already.
- While doing a yoga session (or Pilates, Tai Chi or Qi Gong)
- While swimming
- Doing the gardening
- Eating a meal
- Having a massage
- While having your hair washed at the hairdressers
- Standing in the queue at the bank or the supermarket checkout.
- Waiting your turn at the Doctor’s surgery (plenty of time there!) or the dentist.
- Walking the dog.
- Or how about meditative running?
A year or so back I attended a silent mindfulness retreat. And for those wondering how I survived – it was challenge! As part of the retreat we were encouraged to take a mindful walk in a local park. Now for the uninitiated, this type of walk is v-e-r-y slow. You move mindfully and carefully to experience how your feet make contact with the ground, how your legs and the rest of your body move, how you interact with your surrounding environment, opening yourself up to the full range of sensate focus.
It can also look a bit peculiar. Think Keanu Reeves in The Matrix dodging bullets…
One onlooker, bemused by the spectacle, couldn’t contain his curiosity, sidling up to one participant and asking, “What are you all doing?” She explained and advised she wasn’t supposed to be speaking as this was a silent retreat. The onlooker then replied in a loud stage whisper that everyone in the park and beyond could hear. “Oh, that explains it. I thought you were all taking part in a Zombie movie or something.”
If walking isn’t your thing, then perhaps meditative running might work better for you.
This has to be the ultimate combo: exercising your body and mind simultaneously.
Sakyong Mipham is a Tibetan lama who runs marathons and teaches meditative running. As he says, learning to focus on your breathing gets a whole lot easier when you are panting for your breath!
Other suggestions (Thanks Cath Sutherland) include Hiking Yoga or Soul Cycling
If getting out and about for a run, a hike or a bike ride what you like doing. This could be the perfect solution.
Coming up very, very soon is Mindful in May. If you haven’t already registered you’ve got until April 30th to do so. This is a brilliant program to either help you get started in mindfulness or to give your practice a super burst of new ideas, new practices and inspiration. Or you can donate to help me in my challenge! All monies raised go to Charity Water a not for profit organisation providing clean drinking water to those in need in developing countries.
How do you fit in mindfulness into your day?
Do you combine it with exercise and if so which?