This is the season of new beginnings; we set goals, make resolutions, and imagine a better version of ourselves. Whether it is to eat better, quit sugar, or just generally take better care of ourselves; we often find these good intentions go to the way side within a couple of months if not immediately. So, how do we break this pattern and actually make some positive changes in ourselves? The first step is recognizing how we actually feel. Witnessing your thoughts is one of the most important aspect of yoga practice. How many times have you been to a yoga class and the instructor will tell you to pay attention to the sensations you are feeling and acknowledge your thoughts; but then let them go. Witnessing the thought process means to be able to observe the natural flow of the mind, while not being disturbed or distracted. This is really simple concept; we just need to start paying attention to the sensations we experience, quiet the mind, and breathe. Although the idea is very simple for many it is extremely difficult to tune back into ourselves and recognize the subtle sensations that occur. We have become so out of tune with ourselves we often have no clue how we are feeling unless pain or extreme pleasure is felt. We miss those muted cues that our body and mind send to us.
When we are reaching for that sugary treat, over eating, or any vice that grabs our fancy at that moment, we are just automatically moving through the motions. We have become so detached that we are no longer present in our day-to-day lives. That sugary treat could be loaded with emotional ties, boredom, or could have just become a habit. So this is the really great part of yoga, it teaches you to live in this moment, to be present, and to pay attention. This is the very first step in recognizing why you are straying from your intentions. Yoga literally means “Yoke”: to unite the mind with the body. To help yourself achieve your goals this year, train your mind and body to be in sync; therefore allowing yourself to recognize some of these subtleties as they are happening.
When your mind and body become more synced it is easier to identify behaviours and evaluate why they are happening, allowing you to more easily change to your desired outcome. There are many techniques you can follow to help you become more aware, more present, and more mindful. Mindful Mediations can be practiced at anytime but when you feel yourself slipping into auto pilot, try to pull yourself back to the present moment. Listed below are a few simple meditations that can happen anywhere and at anytime. Mindful Meditations Exercises:
1. This is a very simple exercise that can be performed at anytime. It is a simple exercise to connect to your breath. Following the breath in and out. As you are breathing out, be aware that you are breathing out. Breathe in and be aware that you are breathing in. Follow this breath for a few minutes to start. As you get better at this extend the time until you can feel how changing the breath changes the way your body feels.
2. Another Meditation practice is going on a walking meditation. This is a very simple exercise where the mind and body are connected. The same concept of being aware of the breath moving in and out applies to the walking mediation. With every step that you take be aware of what you feel, what you see, the effortlessness, and allow each step to bring you peace and joy.
3. Try to have a conversation with someone and be completely present. Not thinking about your own agenda. Listen to the person speak without judgment or thinking about how your going to respond to them. Observe their body langue as they speak and see if it matches what they are saying. Again do this without judgement. This exercise helps turn off autopilot and also gives the person a sense of importance in your life. Give yourself the gift of truly being present.