#Mindfulness Exercise: Making Your Bed

A mindfulness exercise to kick off your day, boosting your motivation and set yourself up to stay mindful throughout the day.

Difficulty: Easy

This one’s inspire by Admiral McRaven’s speech to graduates at the University of Texas.  He stated that one reason Navy Seals were forced to make their beds to an immaculate standard is to get them of the mindset of achievement.  By starting the day achieving something simple, but rewarding, you prepare yourself for a day where accomplishment comes naturally.

We’re also going to use it as an opportunity to bring ourselves back to the present moment and set ourselves up to be mindful from the start of the day.

Instructions:

1. However humble or extravagant your bed, the moment you get up start making it.

2. Make it perfect from the bottom sheet to the extra pillows: every aspect should be 100% – as if someone were to be inspecting it!

3. Throughout the process, clear your mind and focus on getting every detail right.  As you do this, focus on your breathing, how your weight shifts as you move, how the linen feels between your fingertips: focus on the minutiae of the task to root yourself in the moment and in your own skin.

4. Once you are finished, behold the glory of your creation! You’ve kicked off your day with an achievement you can be proud of; one that will be rewarding later after a long day!  You’ve also prepped your body for a day of focus and mindfulness.

Setting the tone for the day like this is more potent than you think: you’re laying down the foundation for the rest of the day.

Now you can follow it up with the Toothbrush Meditation, and already you have squeezed two meditations into your morning and you won’t be late for work because of them!

Did you find this useful? Share it on Facebook or Twitter, or leave a message below!

#Meditation: The Superman/Wonderwoman Pose

2 Minutes to Instant Confidence

Difficulty: Easy

Here’s a meditation which borrows a little from NLP and body language secrets.  The Superman Pose (or Wonder Woman pose, if you like!) uses positive body language to reset your mind into a more confident and happier state.

Superman Pose

 

Instructions:

Well, when I say it’s easy … Just copy the picture above!

Stand in that pose for two minutes.  You can count the minutes.  During that time, your mind will adapt to, and embrace, your body’s confidence; even if the confidence of your body is ‘posed’.

So, immediately before a potentially stressful situation (such as an interview), strike the pose!  You might choose to do this in private (e.g. bathroom stall, as glamorous as that may be!).

It seems odd, but it works.

For a little secret way to incorporate this into your routine twice a day, without even taking extra time out of your schedule…watch this space! 😉

#Mindfulness lesson: Learning to Walk

Here’s a mindfulness technique for you that you can do multiple times every day without any extra time out of your schedule.

Following from my last post on starting afresh, and creating the right mentality to learn and improve on what we already know, we’re going to look at something so many of us learn at a young age.

Yet it’s something we really do take for granted.

Walking.

So many of run around in a rush these days, then complain that we don’t have enough time for mindfulness or meditation.

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Yet every step we take can be a meditation in itself.  Make use of this technique and you’ll find yourself becoming  surer in your movement, less clumsy, more aware of your surroundings, and more relaxed!

Walking Meditation:

This is one of the simplest meditations, but you must already understand that meditation is simply focus:

1. As you walk focus very deliberately on every step.  Just like with breathing during sitting meditation (zazen), don’t let your conscious mind guide your steps, but rather simply let it focus on the movement.

2. Notice the feeling of each step: pay attention to the texture of the ground under your feet; the shift in your balance as you move; the obstacles before you and how you instinctively react.

3. Notice your breathing as you walk.  Let your stress out with every breath, and notice with every breath you’re closer to your destination.  Yet don’t linger on your end goal: as with life, here it is the journey itself which is important.

Like this meditation?  Please share it with friends and family!  I’d love to hear your experience with the mindfulness technique too, so leave a comment below!

#Zen : Learning to tie your shoelaces.

So, after a little hiatus, I’m starting from scratch.  Next post, I’ve got a walking meditation — something for when you’re on the move.  Now, though, we’re taking the first steps before that: learning to tie our shoelaces.

We all know how to do that, right?  It’s one of the first things we learn.  Yet some of us have been doing it wrong our whole lives!  Allow Mr Terry Moore to explain:

Now Zen is more than just sitting still for a while, or saying profound ‘Oneness’ statements.  Zen is about living in the moment, and taking in all around you, and learning!

And the key to learning is accepting that somethings you do not know, and some things you can learn to do better.  Let’s start with our shoelaces!

#Mindfulness Technique: Us vs Them — a cure for road/commute rage!

Difficulty Rating: Medium

Here’s a very simple mindfulness technique to help you be more calm in day to day life, but especially while driving or commuting!  (It’s just tricky at first, and not easy to remember to do it all the time, hence the medium rating.)

I have terrible road rage (I am certain that everyone but me is a terrible driver…), so I came up with this technique to help calm me down:

Every time you think about yourself or others, use the pronoun we, as opposed to me, I, them, he, or she.

 

For example: rather than thinking “He’s driving like an idiot!”, replace the ‘he’ with ‘we’ and your mind adapts the sentence to something like “We’re driving a little silly today!”

This identification with other drivers/commuters calms you as you become more forgiving: we are always more forgiving to those we identify as part of ‘our’ group.

This ties in nicely with the Buddhist belief that we are all one; or the Christian and Muslim belief that we are all children of God.  This kind of attitude will make you more compassionate, happier, and you’ll find others treating you better too!

Like it? Tried it? Or not convinced? Let me know your thoughts!

#Zen: Staying Mindful On Valentine’s Day

There’s been a mixed bag of comments on social media today, so here’s some ideas on how to stay mindful and compassionate on a day that can be both pleasurable and painful for so many.

Firstly, if you are in a relationship it’s important to stay in the moment when you’re with the one you love.  This is your day together, and you don’t want to spend it fantasising or imagining about the future, or reminiscing on the past.  Be in the moment with your loved one, and this special day will last even longer.

Be compassionate to the one you love, but also to others who may not be as lucky as you.  Be humble and not ostentatious.  Be kind and caring — that’s what today is meant to be about.

If you’re a singleton, then do not spend to day wishing for something different, or lamenting past losses.  Today is about giving love.  Show your family and friends your love for them through compassion and kindness.

Show compassion to other single people and couples too: be happy for those individuals who’ve found someone, not spiteful.

It’s well known how altruism is a sure way to happiness.  By showing love and compassion to others, you’ll not only feel good about yourself, but you’ll make the world, as a whole, a better place.

Now we just have to work on doing this the other 364 days of the year!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

#Mindfulness Technique: Shaolin Mindfulness

Difficulty rating: Easy/Medium

Here’s a Mindfulness technique which my friend told me about.  I’m not 100% certain this is an official Shoalin Mindfulness Technique…but it’s a good enough name for this particular one!

It’s very simple to do.  However, remembering to do it at all times is a bit tricker and takes practice (hence the Medium rating)!

There’s really just one step to it:

Whatever you’re doing, whether it’s simply walking down the street, or performing a more dexterous task such as chopping veg for tonights meal, think this to yourself:

I will do this to the very best of my ability.

Think  this for everything, be it menial tasks or complicated actions.

E.g. “I will pick up this remote to the very best of my ability“; or “I will carry this stack of delicate and valuable plates to the very best of my ability“.

This is a very effective way of focusing your mind on the task at hand, which is exactly what Mindfulness is!

By doing this, you will not only free your mind of unnecessary, and even negative thoughts, helping to reduce stress and increase happiness, but you will also become much less clumsy!

Thanks to Alex St. John for sharing this brilliant Mindfulness technique!

#Mindfulness Technique: Bite-Size Zen’s Mantra

A Mantra used to mean a sacred utterance or words, believed to have a spiritual or physical effect on the speaker (and those around him/her).  Nowadays, a lot of people have their own personal mantra.

Here’s ours:

“Change what you cannot accept, and accept what you cannot change.”

This mantra intends to free you from worry.

Most of us worry about things we have little control over.  This is often exacerbated by us sitting passively and accepting circumstances which we could improve if we were to take action.

If something is pestering us, we should take action over it.  For example, the next time somebody is playing loud music on their phone on the train (yes, we’ve all had this!) and you’re not enjoying the experience, rather than sitting by and taking it (building up in stress while you seethe away wishing they’d shut it!), assert yourself!

Ask them to turn it down/off/listen to it through headphones.

(If they’re aggressive and you feel intimidated, you don’t need to push it…you tried, and you’ll feel better for it.  Try not to get into to much trouble!)

On the other hand, if there is something you can’t change, you must do your best to accept it.  You can’t change the weather — so if your game of tennis has been rained off, do not be stressed out over it.  Accept that sometimes a thing we want is not achievable.

Once you’ve accepted things you believe you cannot change, this is where the mantra comes into its own.

Repeat it.

The first part rings in your mind: “change what you cannot accept”.  You can then start to think about solutions you never thought up before, and discover that actually you could change a situation you found unacceptable and unchangeable.  Whether it’s your outlook that changes, or the circumstance itself.

A relaxed mind, and a more positive mind, often finds solutions a stressed and unhappy mind overlooks.

I hope you find this Mantra useful =)

#Meditation Technique: Candle Meditation

Rating: Easy!

Here’s a super easy meditation.  In fact, if you’ve struggled with meditation so far, this one is actually a good way to ease yourself into the technique.

Most of us have found ourselves staring at a candle, often for much longer than we realise.  There’s something about it that completely clears your mind.

It’s also well known how relaxing candle light is.  All this makes for a very relaxing meditation, so here’s how:

1.  Sit upright, but comfortable.  This can be on a chair, the floor, anywhere with good support.

2.  Light a candle in front of you (make sure you do this safely!  No burns and fires, thank you very much!)

3.  As you watch the flame, focus on your breathing.  The gentle in and out of the air as it goes to your Centre (2 inches below the navel).

4.  As with any meditation, do not linger on any thoughts: if you find yourself thinking of anything, simply focus once more on the flame.

5.  Be aware of the time.  Set yourself a goal (e.g. 5 minutes); something manageable.  Then, next time, when you get more and more confident with the meditation, you can increase the time.

The key here is training your mind to return to a state of clarity; emptying your mind of thoughts.  This is the basis of all meditation.  As you teach yourself how to do this, you can try more challenging meditation techniques, such as everyday mindfulness, or simple Zazen (sitting meditation).

Give it a try, and let me know your experiences, comments, or questions below!

 

Meditation Technique: Be like water

Meditation ‘Be like water’

The last in my 3 part ‘Be like water’ posts, inspired by Bruce Lee’s unforgettable quote.

This time it’s more of a short meditation which aims to keep your mind free from negative thoughts.

As mentioned before in the Mindfulness ‘Be like water’ post, there are different meanings to this quote. This interpretation makes your mind the water.

Imagine your mind as a lake of water: still and formless.

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Any distracting thoughts, be they imaginings, negative emotions, or even harmful things said by others, are like stones thrown into the surface of the water.

Yes, there’s a splash and ripples, and that’s okay.  Yet, just as the water of a lake returns to stillness, the ripples in your mind can fade away and you will return to that calm sense of serenity which forms the basis of your mind.

Whenever I feel bad, whether it be from a negative experience or worrying thoughts, I imagine the negative thought disappearing beneath the surface, and the ripples slowly getting smaller and smaller, until there is nothing left of that thought; just stillness.

The stress from the thought dissipates, and I’m left feeling calm and relaxed.

How does it work for you? Leave a comment below!