Carolyn Anne Budgell's Tips On Mindfulness
“Mindfulness” is blowing up as the new hot word among neo-spiritual, new age, western, hippy, yuppy, yogi, meditators. In spite of its trendiness, mindfulness is truly such a valuable practice. One who is mindful strives to be aware of the habitual nature of the mind. One who is mindful has the desire to deepen the understanding of ones own mind.
The practices of mindfulness need to be embodied and remembered in all situations. Of course, we will rarely maintain perfect and consistent awareness through all the ups and downs but we can try. A saying that captures this point is “two steps forward and one step back...”
Mindfulness might begin with body/breath awareness at drop-in yoga and then evolves into something deeper for those seeking big shifts in their lives. Creating change is a gloomy, arduous task and in the face of it, running to the hills screaming seems a better option. On some days, you might run screaming and on other days, consider the following useful ways to begin practicing mindfulness …(remembering “two steps forward and one step back...”):
- Sit or lie still whenever possible in a chair/car/office/floor at home. Begin with 5 minutes and focus on your breath.
- Journal about the cycles and stages you have been though in life and where you are now. Write about past lessons and how you would like to feel in the future.
- Stop and take a deep breath before speaking. Speak from the heart.
- Listen to meditations online or at local events. Get a friend to join you.
- Get a sense of what and who is out there in this big world and learn about the diversity of life.
- Ask friends and mentors for support and advice. Often a counsellour or a therapist can provide incredible and unbiased insights into the ‘stories’ we tell.
- Wear jewelry that reminds you of your teachers and guides.
- Go to yoga, go for a run, enjoy tai chi or go for a swim: do anything that gets your blood flowing and nourishes your deserving body (use a self-care or self-love mantra during these activities!). If we want to become more aware and more awake, the body needs our attention first and foremost. Clear out the tensions in the body and you will observe shifts in mental tension and stress as well.
- Write meaningful quotes around your house or office that remind you of what is important. The mind needs to be trained into remembering affirmations and mantra in this manner (eg: may I feel peace, may I feel free from pain).
- Walk nowhere, for no reason. Take in all the sights and sounds.
Basically everything turns into a practice of mindfulness. Start with clear and therapeutic activities (like the ones mentioned above) and when they become second nature, branch out into practices like: spending a weekend with your parents and remembering (with deep breaths) that we are all connected and we are all growing, or tell your poor toe how much you love it when you accidentally stub it while rushing to cross the street. The practices will grow more subtle and more quiet in the strangest of places.
As you endure the various unfoldings into more awareness and more centeredness, avoid labeling it or judging/congratulating yourself.
The real nectar is in how you feel. May we all feel more present, more patient, more kind… towards ourselves and others.
Carolyn Anne Budgell (BA, ERYT 200, Kula 75) is an ambassador for Mala Collective and loves teaching vinyasa yoga and meditation from a realistic, down-to-earth and light-hearted perspective in Vancouver, BC. Carolyn discovered yoga in 1999 as a ski bum in Whistler and now leads Yoga Teacher Trainings for Wanderlust Festival and Lila Vinyasa School of Yoga, created free online yoga classes as an Ambassador for lululemon and has mentored at teen girl yoga camps to increase female empowerment (Girlvana).
Check out her website for free meditations and real talk blog posts.
** Amazing getaways with Carolyn: Spring Retreat on Galiano Island from Apr 10-12 or Sweet Yoga Retreat at Haramara, Sayulita from Nov 14-21, 2015 **