I’m gonna start by saying I have by no means perfected mindful living, nor do I feel I’m am the personification of ‘being present’. I’m learning here too. However, what I would like to share over the coming weeks are some of the biggest tips and lessons I’ve found to help encourage a more mindful approach to life. Hopefully they can encourage you too.
1. Slow Down, and learn to say no.
Oh I know, it’s not easy to do. I said to a client the other day, “Count 3-5 seconds before answering in your next conversation. That might not seem like long, but give it a go right now. In your next sentence to someone, try and take three seconds to evaluate how you will respond. Suddenly 3 seconds is a lifetime!
But it’s important to take that time, weigh up those options. Try to stop yourself from reactively saying yes to something in the heat of the moment. Avoid letting pressure or because your mum/friend/boss is asking make your decision for you. What have you got on your plate already? For most of us, we’re already stacked to the brim! If you’re the person who always replies with “busy” when asked how you are, then I’m talking to you. I believe being busy is a good thing (idle hands and all that).
But, It’s not a good thing to always be so busy that ‘how busy you are’, is the only thing you have to talk about. If this is you, it’s time to start saying no and taking things off your plate.
“But Dan, you don’t get it, I don’t know how to say no!” I get it, I often feel the same, you don’t want to let others down. Sadly, despite our best efforts, if we keep being a ‘yes man’ for too long, our bodies will force us to stop. This is the part where I end up chatting to people who come through my door using words like ‘exhausted’, ‘burnt out’, ‘stressed’ or ‘anxious all the time’. These people are often getting sick, not sleeping well and struggling to manage their time with family, other commitments, work and still finding something fun for themselves. If left unchecked, the toll can continue and begin to increase conflict in family and relationships, decline productivity at work, cause depressive states and further decline in physical, spiritual and mental health. You simply cannot afford to say yes to everything, so stop it! Ha! I’m saying this to myself too. We need to stop always saying yes to things…for everyone’s sake!
2. Meditate/ breathe/reflect
Sound familiar? Yes, we touched on it in my last blog (go back and check it out if you missed it). It sounds simple, and it is, but it is also a practice of lifelong improvement. Take a deep breath in, hold it for 3 seconds and then slowly release it. Do it again, but this time see if you can notice where in your body that you’re holding stress. Breathe into that space and release on the exhale. Now try it again with your thoughts, then your emotions, then your spirit. You can focus on one or as many as you’re ready to and can do this as many times as you like. There are so many great exercises you can try, how about we try this one together for today:
Take a moment to place your feet on the floor, get comfortable and close your eyes. What can you hear around you? Take some time to be okay with what’s going on around you in this space. Now when you’re ready, bring it in.
What can you feel in your body? The breeze on your hands or maybe a tension in the neck or stomach? Take some time to breathe into or just notice what’s going on there.
How about we bring it in even more, the thoughts that are going on in our head. I like to picture my mind like a freeway with cars going past in each direction. Each of these cars are a different thought,issue or idea I have. Picture this with me, and picture yourself in a house next to this freeway. You look out the window and watch all the thoughts/issues/ideas as they go by. Take some time to notice them as they pass. It’s okay to acknowledge they exist. The stressful thought from work, family or friends. The rush of all the things you need to do. The weekend plans. They’re all out there and that’s okay. They don’t control you. Let them pass like cars on a freeway once you’ve acknowledged they exist. Don’t worry, they can’t get to you here. You are safe in the house. You can just let it pass. Stay there as long as you need, and when you’re ready, come back and join me.
You’ve just practiced being present in the moment; a great meditative and life skill to have! There are so many other great ways to practice meditating and reflection. I already talked about how I love to reflect and meditate in my own devotional times or by going out and surfing alone. These are all great opportunities to practice being present. Find what works for you, but if you do take the time to practice this, I promise it will do you a world of good.
3. Take time for self-care. (Do something enjoyable for yourself!)
Honestly, this shouldn’t be as hard as we make it for ourselves. It’s not rocket science. What’s one thing you like to do for yourself? Literally one thing? If you’re stuck there or you think ‘I’m just too time poor,’ it’s time to make a change! It isn’t sustainable to go through life with no enjoyment or ‘me time’ to process life. Here’s some of my fave’s to help you out if you’re stuck: spending time one on one time with a friend or family member, surfing, rock climbing, walking or running down the beach (sunset is a bonus), spending time with God, writing, song writing, playing music, watching a movie or show I like, playing a game or trying to learn cool photography or video tips for my Instagram. Whatever it is for you, find things that add value and joy to your life. It doesn’t have to cost money, in fact, most of mine are free. It’s not selfish to self-care, its necessary.
If you can’t put the oxygen mask on yourself, you won’t have the oxygen you need to help others put on their oxygen mask. Parents, colleges, bosses, friends and family… maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how we take care of ourselves, it might be time for us to prioritise making some self-care time.
I think that’s where I’ll leave it for this week. Hopefully you can walk away from this one encouraged, maybe gently challenged (in a good way)! Let me know what you thought of these first few mindful tips? Maybe you have some of your own you’d like to suggest we look at? I’ll do more over the coming weeks. Looking forward to continuing to explore more on being present and mindful together.
Lots of love,