Starting a Mindfulness Practice (Step One)

Consider this post as STEP ONE…Creating the habit of setting aside time in your day. Starting small with just 5 minutes.

STEP TWO will be in the following post =

Just imagine if you listened to what you needed…truly tuned into your internal world…and actually took complete care of yourself. Mind, body and spirit. Just for a moment, imagine how that would feel.

You have permission to rest. You are not responsible for fixing everything that is broken. You do not have to try and make everyone happy. For now, take time for you. It’s time to replenish.

— Unknown

The truth is, we get in our routine, we push ourselves beyond our limits, we take on too much responsibilities and try to accomplish too much in a given day. Our minds are always “on” like a hamster running in a wheel. We “handle” work stress, family, everyday household tasks, finances, our own internal fears/struggles, etc. If anything is resonating with you that I just said, you are not alone. I would say that I am a person who tries to do too much during a given day. I also am a person who does not always respect my energy level, even though I know I should. I love to make to do lists and check things off. Even the thought of not accomplishing anything during a day makes me uncomfortable.

Am I just wired this way? Not sure. I know I was very focused and determined in school and that translated into my corporate career. Even after I left my career to go into yoga teaching, I still had the habit of taking on too much. As if that “go go go” “hurry up” speed got programmed and stuck in my tissues.

You would assume with me focusing SO much of my time towards yoga (literally daily) I would have this all figured out. Honestly, it is still a practice for me to give myself permission to pause. There are many ways of saying this…allowing yourself to rest, breathing break, mindful moment, mini meditation, brain break, check-in with self moment, daily savasana, etc.

Reality is, we only have so much time in the day. So much energy to give. And if we keep depleting our energy levels consistently, we will be left with nothing more to give. Not to others and not to ourselves. There was a quote I read before about how we need to charge ourselves just like we plug in our cell phones to fill up the battery. There is some truth in that, compare how often you plug in your cell phone to the amount of time you take to give your busy thinking mind a break.

We are here to take care of each other; to do so, we must first take care of ourself.

— Thich Nhat Han

We know when we are pushing ourselves too hard. At least I know I do. I feel drained, tired, not myself. I cannot think clearly or focus. Little things upset me. Feel like I cannot handle anything. My sleep is disrupted. I am in a bad mood overall. I think the first step is being aware of it and knowing it is important to progress towards a better way of living.

I made a commitment, a promise, to myself and have been working on it daily. To slow down, to notice. To really see when I am over-scheduled and to adjust. Life is really a balancing act. We cannot always predict what will come into our lives that we need to handle. The point is, when we add in more, we need to subtract others. At least put them on hold. Perfect example is I am focusing on recording yoga videos and also continuing my education with additional yoga certifications. This means I also cannot work on organizing the basement. It will just need to wait. Not saying it does not bother me when I see the mess downstairs, but I know I am making a wise choice.

Life is all about balance. You don’t always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back, and do nothing.

— Lori Deschene

This practice includes having a more mindful view (being realistic with my expectations per day) and also knowing that it is OK to not finish everything on my to do list. I still like to keep track and even write down and plan out self-care items (full or mini yoga practice, breathing break, walk outside, etc) The self-care practices are important, even more important, than anything else I need to do that day.

Self-care or giving myself permission to pause, is getting my life a little more back into balance. Tipping it more towards the relaxed end of things instead of the over-booked stressed side. Each day around 1pm and also at 4pm I stop. It does not matter what I am doing before, I just stop. I either do some yoga movements, listen to a guided meditation on my cell phone, gentle sounds/music or just sit in silence. I do this for at least 5 minutes. Some days are longer, just depends on how I feel.

This sounds simple, to just stop at a given time during the day, but it has never felt simple or easy to me. It is still a daily struggle to step away from the computer, stop doing some household task, etc and just pause.

Each time I take this time, it fills up my energy level just a little more. I feel content. I feel grateful. I feel more like myself.

Will this blog post resonate with everyone? No. But if it does with you, find the time during the day that works for you and schedule it. No matter what, take that time. It may feel strange at first and difficult to do. You may even find days that you skip it all together. But if you continue with it, keep practicing, you may find what I have. Some peace.

My intention for this blog post is to encourage you to try a daily commitment to stop and pause. Just for 5 minutes. Set a time and make yourself the priority over everything else going on. In future blog posts, I will go into mindfulness techniques to actually do during that time and even restorative poses that can help as well. But for now, the important step is to establish that time. It may even include setting your cell phone timer as a reminder. Take a daily break to even just look out the window or brief walk. When you are ready, move onto some techniques to give your brain and body a much deserved break.

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