My life is as busy as ever and my mind can get overwhelmed by a constant flood of information. There are the work commitments to manage, writing duties to complete, social calendar to juggle; all while coordinating a happy, healthy home for me and my husband. Then there’s the never-ending stream of emails, news and social networking.
It has become increasingly harder to maintain focus and take time out for stillness and calm. I go to yoga once a week so I purposefully make time for this, yet I recently completed a five-week meditation and mindfulness class to help me get my focus back on track. During my course, I was able to teach myself some simple ways for me to incorporate mediation and mindfulness exercises into my daily and travelling life; all of which can be done in as little as a matter of minutes.
Going for a leisurely walk and being aware of it
I enjoy walking, and an astrologer in India told me that walking was good for me. So I try to go for a walk as much as I can, even if it’s around my own neighbourhood. The aim of my walk isn’t always solely about exercise. It’s about working out the mind. While I walk, I take controlled breaths and focus my mind on the breath. In those first few minutes, I say to myself: “I am breathing in, I am breathing out.” Once the breath is slow and deep, I then incorporate my senses into the walk. I focus on the small, simple things like cool air on my nostrils, the sun warming my skin, the distant sound of birds chirping in bushes and my feet touching the pavement. I try not to walk fast so that I can be aware of my senses and breathing, all while not missing out on the subtle world going on around me.
Slowing down and mindfully completing a task
Living a busy life usually means that the clock feels as though it’s running like a stopwatch. So, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the rush and panic. I do things too quickly or I space out without realising I have actually completed a task. The trick here is to slow down while completing a task and mindfully completing it. I try to immerse myself in the task at hand and let my senses take in the experience. Sometimes, the most mundane tasks like packing a bag or eating a quick meal can offer the best opportunity to take a mindful approach. I also try to approach a task as if I am exploring a new city – with all senses and interest tuning in while my mind is wide open. I try to block out everything else going on around me, whether it be the phone, emails, etc.
Finding a quiet spot where I can close my eyes and breathe
I know that I’m virtually useless to anyone from about 9.30pm after a busy working day. My body starts to shut down and I’m almost always ready for sleep. So, I aim to shut any electronic equipment down at least an hour before bed time then use about half an hour beforehand for some quiet time. I turn a small, soft light on in my bedroom, sit on my bed with my feet on the floor and rest my hands into one another on my lap. I then close my eyes and simply breathe in and breathe out while making sure my back is straight and upright. If I struggle with focus, I then chant my “I am breathing in, I am breathing out” mantra in my mind. It’s a helpful time to observe how the body is feeling too and letting thoughts that come to mind simply float by. This technique will be especially helpful on the road when I might find myself in a hotel room with time to spare before a dinner or day-trip. What’s even better is that this technique can be done in any time or location I choose. It’s what works for the individual that matters.