What does it mean to be mindful? Some would say it’s being aware of the people and things around you, and attentive to their needs as well as yours. But let’s take it a step further—and a few steps within. Mindfulness is an inner state of awareness—an acknowledgment of your feelings, emotions, and thoughts. It’s a peaceful state of connectedness with body, mind, and spirit.
The question is, how can we be mindful in a time when deadlines loom, phones and email constantly beckon, and the time that we have for growing and healing ourselves is continually dwindling? The answer is this: ten minutes a day. Some may say, “I don’t have ten minutes to devote to myself daily.” But the truth is, you do and you must.
Picture a tug-of-war. You are stuck in the middle of the rope while two people tug you in different directions. If your schedule looks anything like this tug-of-war, and you feel harried throughout the day, your insides feel it too. Stress doesn’t just show up on your skin and in your nerves; it reverberates throughout your body and throws you off balance.
Your body continually gives everything you ask of it. Giving yourself just ten minutes each day—whether morning or night—is your chance to thank your body. So now that you have devoted “me time” each day, how do you use it? Here are some suggestions:
1- Be peaceful: Shut off the television, iPad, computers, and phones. Close your eyes and clear your mind. This exercise may take a bit longer the first few times you try, but it will get easier and you’ll be able to get to a quiet-mind state faster. Erase your to-do list from your mind, and instead, concentrate on being present.
2- Thankful meditation: Lying down, focus on each of your organs and body parts, recognizing how your strong muscles and bones support you, your hard-working heart continues to pump blood throughout your body, your stomach digests all of the food you feed it, etc. And give thanks to each of those parts for doing their jobs and keeping you healthy. As you go about your day, be aware of your body and the things it does for you—well past your ten-minute meditation.
3- Schedule a change: Instead of driving into work, take the train or bus. Listen to all of the sounds around you, and then block them out one by one, until your mind is peaceful. Train your mind to focus inward instead of outward. The trick here is not to think, but to just be. This will come with practice.
4- Be happy: We often forget that happiness is a big part of our daily lives. Take time to find what makes you tick. Is it art? If so, bring a sketch pad into the park at lunchtime and draw what you see. This will help you to become more observant of your surroundings. Is it friends? If so, take a break to call a friend. A good laugh does a body good. Is it peace and quiet? If so, treat yourself to some morning tea in a nice café.
All too often, we are kind to others but forget about ourselves. Be good to yourself, and start today. Just ten minutes each day will help replenish you in mind-body-spirit so that you may begin your path toward mindfulness.