Welcome to Mindful Thursday! I know, I know, Mindful Monday would sound much better but bare with me because I have a point to Thursday, I promise. Towards the end of the week, most of our energy levels are pretty scorched. On top of that, by Thursday our minds are swirling with plans for the upcoming weekend – making dinner reservations, coordinating with friends, buying movie tickets, and so on. In short, Thursday is probably one of those days that you just want to get through to end the week and get the weekend started. I hear you! So, I am dedicating this and all future Thursdays to being a bit more mindful. I will be providing tips and strategies each week to help us along the road of our mindfulness journey.
First, what is mindfulness? What does being mindful even mean? Live in the now, be present, and don't become too attached to your own thoughts and emotions. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali (an ancient sage and yogi whom I referred to in yesterday’s post) describes five categories of vrttis, or mental modifications, of the mind. The vrttis consist of correct knowledge, incorrect knowledge, imagination or fantasy, sleep, and memory. For now, let's leave it at just knowing and understanding that these vrttis exist in the mind. Developing a daily meditation practice restrains these vrttis and can help calm the waves that they cause in the mind. One is able to train the mind to detach from these mental modifications to find a sense of peace and calm despite racing thoughts or emotions.
Sounds pretty great, right? Let's talk about the basics: find a comfortable seat on the floor, your yoga mat, some pillows, or a chair – keep a straight and erect spine and don't lie down because you may fall asleep. Then, just clear your mind…okay, so this is usually where meditation loses people. It is almost impossible to just sit with no thoughts at all for any period of time. Usually, I start to think about how I am meditating and then, well, I am not meditating anymore! If you are not thinking about nothing then you need to think about something, right? I focus on my breath - I count up to 10 (inhale 1, exhale 1; inhale 2; exhale 2, etc.) or I count the length of my breaths (inhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; exhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
I would also suggest trying the Headspace app and/or the Peace Alarm Clock app. If you prefer a guided meditation then Headspace is probably for you. If you would rather enjoy silence or natural sounds then check out the Peace Alarm Clock. Either way, just start with 5 minutes. Even if you never sit for longer than 5 minutes a day, it is better than not meditating at all.
While sitting in a formal meditation practice each day is wonderful - don't forget to take that sense of mindfulness with you throughout the day. So many times we do our meditation, read a book about mindfulness, or go to a yoga class, and the second we roll up our mat, everything we just did gets rolled up in it as well. We need to take it off the mat! That is where we can really find all of the benefits of this practice – anyone can have a peaceful mind sitting in a comfortable place and focusing on his or her breath for a few minutes. But the point is to be able to take what we learn during that time and apply it to our lives, every day, every hour, every minute.
So, start with just 5 minutes (I tend to prefer to meditate right after waking up in the morning) every day this week. I would love to hear about everyone’s experience meditating as well so please share your stories either in the comments below or shoot me an email at KellyLawson86@gmail.com!
To end with today, here is a great quote from the Headspace app:
Meditation means letting go of our baggage, letting go of all the pre-rehearsed stories and inner-dialogue that we've become so attached to.
Next week, come back for more tips and information!