How many times have you driven to work, sat down for dinner with your family or had a conversation with someone while your mind was somewhere else? Our minds, at times, can be so full of worries and fears about what happened yesterday or what is going to happen tomorrow.We are surrounded by social media, cell phones attached to our fingertips, laptops on our kitchen tables and iPads by our bedside slowly drawing us away from the real life.
Distractions are every where we turn.
I have focused a lot on living in the present moment and staying grounded this past year; following the advice of Pema Chödrön, Eckhart Tolle and the like. While I’ve definitely been more in touch with my spiritual side these past few years, when it comes to putting these present living practices into place, I had to bring them to a level in which I could use in my every day life.
A future dedicated to writing, yoga and adventure is in my thoughts, although at this present moment, I am living a fulltime corporate life/part time yogi/weekend adventurer lifestyle. I needed ways to keep me grounded throughout my chaotic, distracted days. From my yoga and meditation practice, I have come up with 3 off the mat exercises that anyone can practice throughout their day.
1. Stop and take a deep breath
Simple task, huh? Taking a breath seems effortless since we unconsciously take an average of 23,040 breaths a day. How many times out of those 23,040 breaths do we actually consciously take a deep breath? We focus a lot on our breath while practicing yoga/meditation but once we are off our mats, we fail to use these conscious breathing techniques. Give this simple breathing exercise a try next time you are feeling pulled away from the present moment.
Close your eyes and take three rounds of deep breaths following this pattern…breathing in through your nose for 7 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and release through your nose for 8 seconds. This 19-second practice will help bring your body and mind back to the present moment.
2. Go for a walk
Getting outside has been proven to provide great benefits on our minds and bodies. It increases our Vitamin D intake and pulls us away from the distractions filling our minds on a daily basis. Most importantly, on days that you just cannot fit in an hour-long yoga practice, going for a walk can provide exercise for your mind and body.
Commit to taking a walk in the morning, lunch time or at night. Walk with your dog, a friend, your partner or by yourself. Disconnecting is key here. Leave the phone (or any other device that is attached to your hip) at home. If you’re with a friend or your partner, talk about what you’re seeing. Leave the distractions behind and narrow in on your senses; what are hearing, seeing, smelling and feeling right now, in the present moment. Enjoy the beauty and nature around you (even if you are on a city street).
3. Write, write and write some more…
Whatever your tools are to get the words down, stickie notes, blackboard, mirrors, or a good ol’ fashion journal, find a place and start writing. Writing is by far one of the most therapeutic tools I have used to remind myself of the present moment. (I am a journal junkie and have a very close relationship with my $4.00 recycled spiral bound journals).
Take some time out of your day, first thing in the morning or right before you go to bed at night, to sit down and write about what is happening right now. Describe your thoughts, the sounds you hear, how you’re feeling. The idea behind a journal is that it is yours to get creative with. There is no judgment and you can write freely on how you are feeling. This exercise could take you as little as 5 minutes and give you a gentle reminder on bringing your thoughts back to here and now.
These exercises can all be done during your day; in between meetings, lunch breaks or at home before you fall asleep. I admittedly work hard daily to practice at least one of these exercises no matter how chaotic my days can get sometimes. I hope these tips can bring you some grounding and peace throughout your day as well.
by Kelly Higgins - a lover of yoga, life, writing, family, friends, dogs and nature. She works full time in the corporate world but is also a part time yogi, writer and a volunteer facilitating teens in a grief support group in New Jersey. She enjoys writing and sharing her stories of how she continues to heal through yoga, meditation and hiking to help others. Find out more about Kelly via her blog and Instagram.
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