#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!

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#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!

#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!

#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 =)

Mindfulness Technique: Be like water

Mindfulness ‘Be like water’

Following on from the last post on Bruce Lee’s quote ‘Be like water’, here is the mindfulness lesson it teaches.

Firstly, adapt.  Just as water adapts to the situation it is in, whether it be inside a cup, or a teapot, that is where it fits perfectly.

In order to achieve this, you must be fully aware of the world around you, through non-judgemental focus on all that your senses perceive.

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Secondly, focus on your body moving and flowing like water.  Imagining this will help you focus your mind on all your movements, and how you interact with the world around you.

I find it very helpful to imagine my body moving and flowing like water as I go through the day.  It clears my mind; makes me move more thoughtfully and gracefully; and makes me less clumsy!

Give it a try and let me know your experiences in the comments below!

Next time: ‘Meditation: Be like water’

 

Mindfulness: What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness

What is mindfulness?  What’s the difference between meditation and mindfulness?

Here’s the bitesize answer!

Mindfulness IS meditation!  However, most people consider meditation to be the act of seated meditation (Zazen), where in reality meditation is simply “non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.”

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Dogs are happy because they live in the moment!

 

Mindfulness has now become the go to word to describe this same non-judgemental focus on every moment in every endeavour you do.  So, the toothbrush meditation is actually a form of mindfulness — you are paying absolute attention to what you are doing in the present moment.

Mindfulness in a few words:

Be in the present.

I hope this helps clarify, if you have any questions, simply leave a reply in the comments below!