By Leigh Stewart
Yoga teacher, educational developer
There are moments in life when another’s seemingly eternal mindfulness inspires our own — whether it’s a shot of a sun-kissed silhouette on a sandy shore or a glance at someone perched on the subway as if they’ve just been transported from an ashram.
Several years ago, three friends and I made a mindfulness resolution to kick off a new year at university: we’d start our Tuesday and Thursday mornings with a 9 a.m. meditation. The meditation would be silent and seated; a 20-minute practice.
I lasted three weeks and, for me, the seated meditation caused more chatter than calm. But it didenhance my tasks, ambitions, and hobbies. I learned that, for some, a quiet, seated retreat is like a vacation, while for others that same energy can be found through other mediums.
Here are my five active tips to staying mindfully golden.
Music can work both sides of the mindfulness spectrum. When we find ourselves in the heat of a dance party, stress and anxiety are lost to the moment. Feeling like you’ve got more things on your checklist than your grocery list? It’s time to groove. Grab some headphones, a familiar song, and lose yourself to the rhythms.
Alternatively, music can provide stabilization. Having trouble with concentration or losing focus out of boredom and monotony? Spice up your usual tasks with some rhythm.
2. Sun Rays: Vitamin D
20 minutes a day is all you need, but sun is crucial to our wellbeing. For most of us, time in the harsh sun is neither conducive to working schedules nor optimal to maintaining a healthy complexion. Bookending the day with sunshine, however, is a quick way to both set the tone and let go of the day. If it’s accessible, try walking or riding your bike to work. If you take public transportation, get off a stop early and add a bit of exercise into your morning or evening.
3. Superfoods to The Rescue
Mindful eating — an awareness around gratitude, sustainability and community — is certainly on the rise. But on an individual level, personal mindfulness extends beyond the practice of eating. It is premeditated mindfulness about the kinds of foods that fuel the body, in addition to how it’s consumed.
My favorite superfood, the golden berry, blends antioxidants, protein and fiber, and makes a great go-to for a post-workout snack or 4 p.m. pick-up. Food is integral to health and happiness. Your body is one of your main investments in life, so spending some mindful time researching and trying a diet that sustains your energy levels and interests is key.
4. Third Eye Chakra - Golden
Gold colors the chakra at the space between the eyes. This “third eye” or wisdom space is the center of our intuition. Whether you find mindfulness in a meditation that is standing or seated, active or subdued, tuning into a space that enables an enhancement of sight both literally and intuitively.
So often, we are told what to do and how to do it. Take a moment to tune into your third eye center. What practices make you more conscious of yourself and that which surrounds you?
5. Golden Rule of a Yoga Practice - Sun A's/ B's
A close friend and yogi, Shira Engel, once passed on some key wisdom: less is more. Like all other aspects of our lives, it’s easy to become fixated in one space. Even an overextended focus on a mindful practice like yoga can drain the mindfulness that the practice once held. Keeping a healthy balance on and off the mat will mix things up and provide variety to an otherwise colorless day-to-day.
Feeling like your life on the mat is limiting other aspects of your life? Try three rounds of Sun Salutation A’s and three Sun Salutation B’s. Concentrating intently for a short period of time may be enough to translate some mindfulness into other facets of your day.