Whilst ‘mindfulness’ may seem like the latest buzz word around at the moment, it is definitely not a new thing. In fact, it’s a concept that does not even need to be taught as it is essentially innate in all of us.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
In a society that is highly active, reactive and constantly changing, mindfulness gives us a way to bring ourselves back to the present moment. When we succumb to the chaos of life, we often allow our mind to take flight, to lose touch with our body, to focus on negative or obsessive thoughts about the past or future, and feed into feelings of anxiety. The practice of mindfulness allows us to “achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgement.” (mindful.org)
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Attention is like a spotlight and what it illuminates streams into the mind and shapes your brain.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
The good news is that the practice of mindfulness, through various mindfulness techniques, is not complex. It simply takes practice and repetition to remind the mind and body of what it already knows. Bringing our awareness to the present moment by focusing on a single point or sensation allows us to reconnect with our body and quieten the busyness of the mind. When we are more focused we are less reactive and more able to deal with situations objectively. It actually gets us out of our minds and into our bodies more readily.
Exploring mindfulness on the mat
Whether you are aware of it or not, every time you step on the mat you are engaging in a moving meditation through a series of mindful moments. When your teacher talks through alignment cues during a posture, they’re not simply ensuring that you have correct technique. They are subtly drawing your attention to a specific moment or sensation, bringing your awareness to that point.
Where the mind goes, the body will follow.
Gently lift the arches of your feet and notice how this changes the sensation in your legs. Bring your awareness to the opening of the heart space as you recline over the bolster. Feel a lengthening of the spine as you lift the crown of the head towards the sky. Through subtle action we draw attention to sensation and effect. There’s a sense of mindfulness on a physical level, but also a deeper sense of awareness on an energetic level.
Mindfulness through meditation
Meditation can seem like an intimidating practice, many believing they can’t sustain the traditional notion of what meditation is. However, there are many forms of meditation to suit all levels of practitioner, and mindfulness is a very simple technique where you bring your full mind to an object or sensation. Being mindful of your breath, for example, is a common form of mindfulness during meditation. Following your breath improves your awareness of being in the present.
Finding mindfulness off the mat
You can use the same techniques that you do on the mat in your every day life. Next time you get in your car to drive, take a moment before turning on the ignition to notice everything around you. The feelings and sensations in the car, everything from the texture of the steering wheel in your hands to the temperature of the air. Then turn your attention to outside the car, before you even start to drive bring your awareness to your surroundings. This whole process may only take you 30 seconds. Not a great deal of time out of your day, however your journey ahead is more likely to be focused and aware.
Repetition is key. The more you do something, the more it becomes engrained in your memory and the more likely it is to become habit or second nature. Today you’ll need to consciously remind yourself to be more mindful in each moment, tomorrow you’ll be more mindful in the present without even having to “think” about it.
‘Mindfulness’ is your power.
This month focus on your ability to be more mindful on and off the mat. Set yourself up with a positive affirmation, which could be one for the month or a different positive statement each week or day. We just encourage you to keep it consistently on the theme of ‘Mindfulness’. An example is ‘I am mindful of my breath in each moment.’
Explore and create your own.
We invite you to join us for our 21 Day Yoga & Meditation Challenge, which is the perfect opportunity to establish a regular practice of yoga, meditation & mindfulness. The Challenge begins on May 5 and includes a daily mini meditation session delivered to your inbox for the duration of your journey. To book your spot visit www.kulayoga.com.au/workshops
We look forward to seeing you on the mat this month where our teachers will weave our theme of ‘mindfulness is my power’ into their classes and teachings.
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