4 IDEAS TO INTEGRATE MINDFULNESS

You might have read already about it, here on my site or somewhere else, however it’s such an important topic, that I will continue writing about it! Just some main values and ideas today on how to implement the mindfulness approach easily, no matter if into your yoga practice or your daily life as such.

A QUICK RECAP

Mindfulness is being in the present moment without judging; being fully aware of what we are thinking and doing, by keeping our focus on just that. 

WHAT VALUE WOULD YOU PLACE ON…

  • A shift from reacting to acting
  • Reduced distractions
  • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increased awareness
  • Increased attention and focus
  • Increased clarity in thinking and perception
  • Lowered anxiety
  • Experience of being calm and internally still

4 IDEAS TO INTEGRATE MINDFULNESS INTO YOUR DAILY ROUTINES

  1. BE PROUD! Just repeat this phrase mentally again and again and again during the day, as often as possible. What will happen is a shift in your mindset – don’t think about what you are proud of, just be it, feel it! There’s always something to be proud of, don’t care about the details. Not just your mind but also your body will react on it: your posture will improve, your spine will lengthen, your chest lifts, your shoulders will slightly go down and back. You will radiate a positive and confident attitude. Wow!
  2. MOVE YOUR BODY! Of course you do that already when adding the mindfulness approach to your yoga practice. Think of it the rest of the day too! Many of us are sitting all day long, starring at a screen or any other devices. Sitting is said to be the new smoking – move as often as you can. Standing doesn’t do the work, your body needs movement. No need for a workout, just tiny little stretches work perfectly. Sitting or standing – do shoulder stretches, twists, side bends, balance, move the spine and many more. Easy little things that can be integrated without any effort.
  3. BREATHE! One of the most powerful tools with the purpose to either control our prana (life force, life energy) or to heal on a mental and/or physical level. We have loads of great techniques in yoga (so called pranayama) that we can use, however very basic techniques will already do the job, such as equal breathing (count your breath, inhale/exhale for 4) or lengthen your exhales (inhale for 4/exhale for 6) to squeeze your inner organs and get the toxins out. While we are used to breathe in a certain way during the yoga practice (e.g. Ujjayi breath), you can use the described techniques during the day and nobody will even recognize what you’re doing! It will immediately calm you down; do it in a train, car, plane, while waiting in a queue, during meetings, you name it.
  4. BE STILL! Meditation is a great tool to get ourselves into stillness, which is really needed in today’s stressful set up. Many of us struggle with meditation and I suggest to replace the term. Call it whatever works for you, it is just about going into stillness for a moment, you decide if 5 minutes, 30 or anything in-between. Bring your awareness internal, focus on your breath, allow any thoughts to pop up and pass by without giving them any further attention.

Go for it, it will change everything – to the better!

Yes!

I’ve got news! The journey goes on and on…. I’m so grateful to be certified to teach the MINDFRESH approach in Switzerland!

As I’m working myself all day long in the office, sitting in front of a computer, in a stressful surrounding, driven by deadlines, I know very well what effects this has on our health. And I’m talking about body and mind. Bad posture, neck and back pain, multitasking, shallow breathing… to name just a few. Having a fitness program is great, eating healthy awesome, but not enough. We need to work on body and mind to better destress and recharge. The good news is, that very simple tools can do that job.

Read more here, and if you think this could be a good idea for your office, let me know!

 

Photocredit Nadja Kappeler

Freedom 

The older I get, the more does my yoga practice change. No, I’m not talking about anything I can’t do anymore, on the contrary, I’m taking about freedom.

The freedom to decide what it means to dedicate myself to a daily practice. Yes, it means to show up. No, it doesn’t mean to practice the full primary series 6 days a week. Well there are weeks when I do exactly this, but the difference is, my dedication is to practice yoga in a way that suits my body needs that particular day. 

This means letting go of bondage. I do practice on my mat daily. Without feeling guilty to listen to my body and do exactly what I need that moment. Mindful practice without forcing myself. Some days this might mean practicing yin yoga. Others I might do some sun salutations and a simple flow to get my body long and stretched. It can also mean to just sit in stillness and meditate. Challenging enough! And still most days, I do the full primary series. Some days I think, let’s do a slow flow following some matching music, while some time later I recognize that I’m in the midst of my Ashtanga practice. And it feels great to just move without thinking, led by my body, doing what I love.

I also let go of the need to master advanced postures. I know they will come anyhow when I’m ready. Working on them without pressure and the need to follow the crowd. This too is yoga.

This is what I call freedom. It’s my practice and I stopped judging me. No labels needed, it’s just that, yoga. This is my way to create space in body and mind.

 

Photo by Nadja Kappeler

Mindful Practice

“Remember, the main thing that shapes our body is how we feel, so don’t waste your sacred moments in senseless distraction.“ (Samadi, Bali)

When I start a class, I usually ask my students to allow themselves for the next 60/90 minutes to be present, in the room, on their mat, and most important with themselves. I ask them to practice mindful as a commitment to being here and now. I know this isn’t easy, particularly when practicing over lunch, when students arrive stressed and might have challenging stuff to do or lots of appointments in the afternoon. The more important it is to grant our monkey minds a break. The morning is past, nothing to do about it and the afternoon not yet there. Integrating the attention of presence in action, this is what it’s all about. Sounds simple, anyhow, not always easy to realize.

There are a couple of things that might help:

  • Stop comparing yourself to others
  • Direct your energy and your full attention to yourself
  • Keep your focus on your breath (and simply bring it back each time you lost connection!)
  • Be gentle with yourself
  • Feel what you are doing
  • Relax and enjoy the process

Next time when you hit the mat, give yourself permission for the time of your practice to just do that, nothing else, physically AND mentally. Any thoughts that pop up, let them come and let them pass, knowing they will get the required attention after your practice. I promise this will change your practice significantly!

Atman

When I was a child, there was a time I was thinking about who I am. It was very clear to me, that there is something I struggled explaining or finding the right words. I called it my “coenesthesia”. This feeling of “I”, which I believed would not die with my body. This special feeling when saying “I”, this is my true self.

I kept this belief my whole life, but many years later yoga philosophy taught me the right terms of what I already knew since a young child. In yoga this true inner essence, our inner self is called Atman. A kind of fragment of the Divine (Brahman), which exists in every one of us, and which is the very core of our being. We easily mistake it with our ego and identify with our body and mind, instead of going beyond intellect, ego and emotions.

Realizing this false conviction and identification with the ego, the mortal body and mind is called liberation (Moksha), which eventually leads to freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth (Samskara).

Frankly spoken, even if I had this insight already as a child, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to live by. To translate and implement it into daily life is where we struggle most. Knowing, understanding is one side of the medal, get it on the driver seat of life is the other side.

This is what a meditation and yoga practice helps with, no matter what style, on or off the mat. Yoga is the sum of all paths on inner development, the goal of which is to realize and experience your Divine true inner self, and thereby transform life.

This short dispatch is nothing but a very high level glance at the yoga philosophy, which is so worth a deep dive!

The next level

Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft can you be extremely hard and strong. (Zen Proverb)

When practicing, find something more than just the physical challenge. Use the physical practice for controlling your mind, as the physical body is merely a vehicle. It’s not that important what you practice, but HOW you practice. It’s about deep listening, understanding your body and creating harmony. Notice when you are pushing and stop immediately. Let it go, connect with your breath, feel your body, then start again. 

Getting soft in your practice isn’t a sign of weakness, but strength. 

Yoga means union. Union of purusha (spirit, soul) and prakriti (surrounding, nature around us). Union of atman (true self) and brahman (absolute consciousness). Union of body and mind, the unity between the individual soul and the cosmic soul.

Bring your practice to the next level – get soft.

The mind is not separate from your body, it is the inner part of the body. You are separate from the body and the mind, both. You are an entity, transcendental, you are a witness to the mind and the body, both. But your mind and your body are both one and the same energy. The body is visible mind, the mind is invisible body. The body is the exterior mind, and the mind is the interior body.

Osho