Finding The Joy Outside Your Door
In our last two posts, we’ve discussed ways to practice mindfulness for a less stressful, more joyful life. We’ve highlighted the importance of slowing down and even stopping, working with the SANE acronym for mindfulness and incorporating meditation and breathing. In this final installment, we’ll discuss an additional practice that we believe will add value to your life.
Get off the Sinking Ship of Overwhelm, Part 4
Remember the S.A.N.E. approach for mindfulness?
Notice without judgement
The practice we reviewed last time was breathing, and included a few different options for getting started. Have you been engaging with your breath? Slowing down and noticing? Using breathing as a regular mindfulness practice throughout your day? Using it when you really need to wave the white flag? Perfect!
This time, we’re going to talk about one of my personal favorites: spending time in nature.
The idea here is simple: get outside and spend some time in nature. It’s a natural relaxant, and a wonderful way to be present. The catch? You’ve got to treat it like a practice and create some boundaries around your time in nature. For example, put your phone on silent, and please, leave those earbuds or headphones at home! Intentionally leave the inside world and be present to what’s happening all around you. The incredible thing is that it happens all the time, without permission, without forcing, and often, without our noticing. Here are a few ideas about how to re-engage with nature:
Bring a blanket and sit on the grass. Reach out and touch the grass. Notice the clouds moving across the sky. Smell, listen, watch. Just be there. Notice what comes up for you.
Take a walk and practice mindfulness-in-motion. Focus on the feeling of each step. Of your foot within your shoe: your toes, instep, heel, and top of your foot.. Of your muscles expanding and contracting. Of how the creatures around you react to your being in their world.
A few final thoughts about mindfulness.
What it all boils down to is that no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you have the choice to become present. Once you become present, you’ll be surprised about what you notice.
This surprise might come in the form of contentment, or joy, or peace. Sometimes, it might come in the form of being a little scared or even disappointed. And that’s ok too.
For many of us (myself included), we keep the treadmill on high-speed because we intuitively know that when we slow down we might see or experience or notice something we don’t like, or can’t live with any more. That’s the great challenge, but also the great gift of mindfulness: with awareness comes choice.
A great companion to your mindfulness practice is your journal. Documenting how we’re feeling about what’s happening to us, and what we’re choosing to do to ourselves, is a great way to gain a bit of perspective about any situation. The words might not come to you immediately, but eventually, you’ll be brave and bold enough to examine your world and your perspective of your world with the love, compassion, and creativity of a good friend. And that’s what this – life – is really all about: being a good friend to yourself, so that you can go out into the world and be good to other people.