Yoga and Mindfulness are mostly associated with a formal practice, which is when we go to a yoga or mindfulness meditation class, or when we practice in this way at home.
Some of you may practice at a set time every day, perhaps first thing in the morning or in the evening before going to be, or perhaps at varying times throughout the week.
Whichever way you do it, it is a formal commitment where time is set aside to move, breath and work with mind and body.
Most people would like to practice in this way every day, but limited time, family and work commitments don’t always allow for this ‘ideal’.
However, if you do wish to practice at home, just start with a few short practices every week. A few minutes gradually extended can make a huge difference to your day.
Decide on a time and set out your mat or cushion in advance so that all you need to do is take your place when it is time to practice.
Try and stick to it even when there are others things that might feel important to do.
I often say this in my one-on-one sessions; but committing to practice benefits not only you but all the people around, your work, your family, your friends. So do it for them.
Thats how I get myself out of bed and onto the mat on the days when I really don't feel like it; I practice for all the people in my life.
If you do practice regularly or have been practicing and perhaps have lost your routine, I call it ‘fallen off the wagon’; then don’t worry too much about it, that’s also part of the practice. Just get ‘back on the wagon’.
Some people will find it almost impossible to set a time aside for formal practice, and if that is you, don’t worry. As it doesn’t mean that you cannot practice.
It is quite possible to practice informally throughout your day whilst you are doing the many tasks and activities that you perform everyday.
In fact this is the highest form of practice.
My Teacher Michael Stone, often say’s that ‘if we don’t take the practice into our daily life it is of no use’.
So informal practice can be anything such as:
- Choosing 1 or 2 everyday activities like brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, making a cup of tea, etc. (your options are endless) and doing them mindfully. Fully paying attention to what you are doing and being fully present in that experience, physically, mentally and emotionally.
- During stressful moments or situations bring your attention to your breath. Perhaps place your hand on your belly and feel your breath.
- Bring attention to really seeing everything you encounter. Look up at the sky when you are walking down the street, see the beautiful blossom on the trees, really look at peoples eyes and faces as you encounter them throughout your day. Practice to really see and engage with the world around you.
- Listen to the sounds around you. Traffic, birds, seagulls, noise, footsteps, children, your own breath, etc. Simply allow the sounds around you to act as an anchor to the present moment.
- Connect to the sensations in your body by bringing attention to your feet, the contact with the floor, your socks and shoes. Or bring your awareness to your hands or any other part of your body and fully experience the sensations that arise.
- Choose a particular time during the day to take a moment to STOP. Just stop for a few seconds and feel your breath. Don't change your breath and don’t make anything happen, just simple feel and fully experience your breath as it is. Again you can tie this to an activity so that you remember. For example you could stop before you take the first bite of every meal, or you could stop every time you get into your car, etc.
Start with one or two informal practices and choose what you are going to do and when.
This is important as life gets busy and practice is easily forgotten. Therefore tie your practice to a particular activity or time during the day, as this can be helpful initially.
You can also set yourself an alarm to remember to practice or use an App (such as, Lotus Bud- which is free) that will ring at random times to remind you to practice.
Or you can do it the old fashioned way and leave sticky notes all around your house and work to remind you to practice. :-)
Whatever you do, give it a try, start slow and if you forget just try and remember next time. Its all part of practicing.
If you need some guidance with your practice or would like to check-in regularly or add-hoc to keep you committed, please get in touch to book a one-to-one session.
Last but not least, I would love to hear form you, so drop me a line or message me. It would be great to share with each other what practices you are doing and what works for you.
But whatever you do, don’t meditate in the middle of the road… ;-)
Love and blessings,