Mindfulness is not just for the freshly washed woman with the time to spend her morning ohming away in yoga pants, face blissful and fingers pinched.
From the chronically anxious marketing executive, to the perpetually forgetful barista, to the blissfully isolated scientist, everyone can benefit from reigning in their thought life.
And, the beautiful reality is that you don’t need any special equipment, training or clothes to practice mindfulness.
You just need the desire for a happier mind, and about 23 minutes.
Cultivate A Mindful Environment
When you’re a mindful master, you’ll be able to focus your thoughts regardless of your physical surroundings.
In the beginning, however, you need to practise in a calm, distraction-free environment. Make sure you’re relatively comfortable temperature-wise, there are no invasive sounds (including talking or music with lyrics), and you’re surrounded by a pleasant or neutral smell.
If you don’t have that environment at home, no worries. You can do this routine at local library, in a quiet park, or just sitting in your car with your children 100% locked out.
7 Super Easy Steps To Mindfulness
The ultimate aim is to learn this routine off by heart. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to write them down before you start (picking up your phone mid-sesh is a huge distraction):
1. Get Comfy
Sit or lie in a position you can comfortably hold for 23 minutes. Now, close your eyes.
2. Physical Check-In: 3 minutes
The first step is all about checking in with how your body is feeling. Starting from your toes and working your way up your body, do a quick mental evaluation of your physical wellbeing.
If you’ve got sore muscles, an aching back, or itchy mosquito bites, consciously recognise that discomfort. If you’re feeling a little bit horny, your limbs are calm, or there’s a pleasant taste in your mouth, recognise taht too.
3. Emotional Check-In: 3 minutes
Next, ask yourself “How do I feel today”?
Try to find specific words to describe the emotions that immediately spring to mind. If you feel “bad”, ask yourself if this is anxiety, disappointment, embarrassment, or hopelessness? You might even feel a combination of a few different emotions.
At this stage, you can briefly examine where these feelings are coming from, but if you don’t have an answer straight away, that is OK. The purpose of this phase is acknowledgement.
4. Teaspoon (TSP) – Thank You, Sorry, Please: 9 minutes
Oftentimes, unacknowledged feelings get knotted up into a big ball that we don’t know how to unravel. Now it is time to direct your thoughts on three emotions areas of your life: Gratitude, remorse, and desire.
Working through this structured thought process will give you greater clarity as to the causes of the feelings you’ve identified in Step 2, and if you make it a habit of focussing on these three areas daily, you can easily track how your thought life progresses over weeks and months.
Thank you: List the things you are grateful for. This could include relationships, physical possessions, education, memories, personal attributes, experiences that have helped you grow… the possibilities are endless. The more you practise gratitude, the more things you’ll be thankful for. You can also rewire your brain to be naturally more grateful by picturing each item you list in your mind’s eye before you move onto the next thing.
Sorry: To fully embrace yourself, you must first acknowledge the good and the bad within you. Search your heart for the things you may have thought, said, or done that you know were wrong. If you’ve never embarked on a conscious self-reflection like this before, you might not easily locate your flaws. Or, you may be inundated with feelings of shame and regret as you look back on your life. The goal of this exercise isn’t to dwell on all those negative feelings. It is simply to acknowledge your unwanted behaviour, forgive yourself and let it go.
Please: Ask for what you really want from life. Don’t limit your requests to what you think you deserve or that you think you can achieve. Instead, give yourself permission to envision the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of your very best life. Then say, “I want that, please.”
5. Reflect On Others: 6 minutes
Life, of course, is not all about us.
We share a symbiotic relationship with other beings and our environment, so it’s important to reflect on what is happening in the lives of those around you.
Begin with your inner circle (family, significant other) and work your way outwards to any colleagues or even acquaintances that pop up in your mind.
Remember what you talked about the last time you spoke. Think about the emotions that person expressed. Envision how your next interaction will play out.
If you are working on developing empathy, you might also like to extend your time here and apply TSP to the relationships you have with these people.
6. Set Your Intention: 2 minutes
Now that you have gained a new perspective on your own emotions and needs, as well as those of the people around you, it’s time to set your intention for the day.
Whether or not you believe in the “Law of Attraction” (I personally do not) the fact remains that you won’t achieve what you don’t set out to do.
Set one specific intention for your day (which means, make it short-term!). Use positive, present-tense language that circles back to what you want.
For example, instead of saying, “I won’t talk too much at work” say, “I am focusing my concentration while sitting at my desk, because I want to be proud of my output.”
7. Accept The Outcome: 1 minute
Finally, take a moment recognise that, despite our best efforts, we are not in control of our lives.
Accept that your day might not go according to plan, that achieving all of your goals might not even be the best outcome for you (we live in a world of infinite possibilities, after all), and that basically, life happens.
This is all more than OK – it’s great! Oce you relinquish that need to be in control, you’ll feel freer than ever!
Happy mindfulness training!