Meditation and yoga are practices that help you to engage in mindfulness . Increasing mindfulness is important for good psychological health. The true transformation from yoga and meditation is when the practice is applied beyond the classroom. It is when the mindfulness is extended towards other areas of life bringing the internal to external situation, where your mind and body tend to be more on "autopilot" and react.
To create change in your life it is important to become aware of the autopilot or “monkey mind” that develops unhealthy habitual thought processes, so that you can learn to “snap out of it” and change your self.
Mindfulness can help you interact with your life so as to create space to release bad habits and develop a deeper perspective into the functionality of your day-to-day actions.
You can increase the sense of autonomy over your thoughts. When practiced, mindfulness makes opportunity for more love and can generate feelings of bliss, joy and unity within your personal self and your connection with your external environment.
Through journalling, art, therapy, yoga, meditation and travel, I have delivered myself outside of my comfort zone in analysing aspects of my body in movement, my mind in thought, and my existence as a human being within the world. Taking in mantras to train my brain to think differently from my environment, and to release past thoughts that engage me, I have discovered aspects of my life that I generally get cornered into my auto-pilot. From focussing on presence, I have drawn from the practice of mundane situations, instead of allowing myself to get lost in thought.
When practicing mindfulness, along with yoga and meditation, these tips can help to remind yourself to “wake-up” from your mental chatter at all times of the day. I have developed this list of moments to help remind us of when to switch up the mental routine so as to create a more relaxed and focussed in experience of life.
1. Wake up with Gratitude
When waking up in the morning, whether it be with an alarm, a pet or a child, we have the ability to attach ourselves to mental patterns right as our consciousness opens up. Whether this be pressing the snooze button or waking up quickly because one is late for work, take the opportunity to presence yourself. Take the time to rejoice in the experience of a new day. One minute of lying awake, but not being quite yet awake, can presence yourself to set up a more calm, mindful and appreciative day.
2. Engage with Food
Most religions discuss the need to give thanks and blessings before eating food. At a psychological level, this act is proven to relax the body, allowing for better digestion and feelings of satiation. This helps to manage your relationship with food, whether it be thinking negative thoughts about your body, helping you not eat your food too quickly, not eat enough, or even to overeat. Developing a positive, more mindful attitude about your food consumption, no matter what your relationship is with it, can bring a sense of gratitude and awareness in the full enjoyment of a meal.
When someone else is speaking, this is your opportunity to be present and to open your ears and actually hear what they are saying. Not only is their information valuable to your experience (whether you agree or disagree), they are teaching you something about yourself.
On another level, while listening to the news, advertisements or music, this is where mindfulness is key. These are great sources for discovery in societal manipulation and can seep into your subconscious if you are not mindfully aware of the words and their influence.
4. Media and Entertainment
When watching a movie or reading a book, you engage with your imagination and project into the reality of an experience that is not entirely your own. This engagement can inspire and uplift us but can also be damaging to self-image, create idolization of celebrities or feelings of comparison within your present life experience. Media is a way to engage with the public in entertaining certain ideals or fantasies about our world. Such as with social media and the virtual reality of identity, mindfulness is important to engage with these entertainment tools healthily and in complete understanding of the truth behind them.
5. Repetitive Patterns
When living in the same place for a long period of time, I notice I develop repetitive mental patterns. Just like travelling to a school I used to attend, feelings and memories of nostalgia combine into my experience. Walking into a certain room triggers mental habits, sitting at the same workspace every day, walking to the store, engaging with friends and family are repetitive patterns that you can wake up to, to find mindfulness in the experience. There are new things happening every day, whether it be the seasons changing, the lighting of the sky, or a freckle on another person’s nose. These discoveries, no matter how small, can change the mundane experience of repetitive patterns in your mind and bring you outside of your accustomed auto-pilot.
6. Standing in Line
The goal of mindfulness is to be present to your thoughts and to your experience. The best spot to practice meditation and mindfulness is while standing in line. How do you interact with the people around you when you are waiting, are you ‘with’ the experience or are you waiting for it to be over?
7. Troubleshooting Technology Problems and Repairs
This is an aspect of life that we all seem to abhor; cancelled plans, flat tires, computer upgrades/crashes, loosing internet connection and troubleshooting device failures can be limiting experiences we all wish to avoid. This is exactly where you can find the opportunity to practice mindfulness, patience and presence to the purpose of which you engage with your technology.
What happens when you are in a traffic jam? What pace do you take when you walk down the street? You travel constantly throughout the day, from one thing to the next, and in these moments your mind can project into the future of where you wish to be. Being mindful of travel is just a way to learn to plant your feet on the ground, look around, breathe and show gratitude to the portions of our lives in which we traverse from one experience to the next.
9. Speaking and Remaining Silent
Taking the time to become aware of the words that you use, helps to create better mantras for your life. Things such as gossip, negativity and complaining can catch up to your psyche and reveal things about yourself that you wouldn’t completely agree with when heard later. Do you ever hear what you’re saying or wish you had said something different? Take in the time to slow your words. Find the space for breathe. Sometimes silence can be the most powerful tool, but also, presence yourself to the moment to direct a greater authenticity in your communication with others and cause for a better use of your words.
10. Experiencing Loss
At many points in life we experience feelings of loss, of losing or misplacing something. This is when the mind can be frantic as it experiences the lack of control in life’s circumstances. In these moments, it is important to focus on the breathe, to relax the mind and allow for time to pass in order to create space for the truth to come up.
Funny thing about the monkey mind is that it is much more trustworthy than we realize, going with the flow and becoming mindful of our autopilot can bring us to a more natural, innate sense of intuition and internal discovery.