Mindfulness practices support our ability to be mentally calm and emotionally steady. With an active, open attention to the present, we create an opportunity for ourselves. Instead of giving power to the products of our mind, we take a chance on accepting the way things are, without judgement. This simple shift offers an experience free of clinging and resistance. And the result? We feel better.
Types of Mindfulness Practice
As you can imagine, mindfulness practices are diverse in approach and quality. In fact, any moment has the potential to align with mindful attention. Deliberate, thoughtful, insightful, open-eyed, conscious, curiosity offers a wide range of how to enter a mindful state. Truly, one commits to mindfulness with a desire, a longing, to infuse all of life with open presence and awareness. Entanglement, distraction, and confusion are common, par for the course, in our human experience. Mindfulness practices reduce our time under these clouds, clearing a pathway for spaciousness.
A foundational practice for mindfulness is working with the breath. Simply pausing, anywhere at anytime, and taking one conscious breath in and out, is an accessible and beginning practice in mindfulness. This one momentary breath gives space between one thought and another, opens a “gap” where simple being-ness can exist. The seemingly tiny, insignificant window that this one conscious breath provides is a powerful initiation for removing oneself from the busyness of every other thing. Breath awareness is a powerful tool for bringing yourself here.
As previously mentioned, mindfulness practices are abundant in their presentation. I quite like to consider these practices like a game. What challenge will I give myself today? Sometimes this is task based. Each time I perform x task, I will connect with the moment, like really notice as much about the moment as possible. For example, if my task is washing hands, each time I wash my hands I will take pause and begin “tracking” the experience: feel the sensation of the water (like the temperature and pressure), see the droplets of water splash on the sink and notice the light and colors, smell the fragrance of the soap, ground into my feet and relax areas of tension in my body. Then washing hands is complete, and I move on in my day.
Of course, one common method of mindfulness training is meditation. Meditation challenges our ability to come into stillness, among other things. Then there is mindfulness in movement, often associated with yoga and other somatic disciplines. However, mindfulness can be taken into any movement training, as it is essentially about the approach one takes in the practice. Finally, mindful eating includes many benefits such as improved digestion, better nutrient absorption, and portion control. With movement, meditation, and nourishment in mind, I have designed the 10-5-1 Daily. The 10-5-1 Daily has proved to offer insight and growth in my own life as well in the lives of my clients and friends.
The 10-5-1 Daily
A practice is something undertaken with intention and performed with repetition to support embodied living. I write about that in this post. The 10-5-1 Daily is an easy to use format for making mindfulness a daily practice with the idea, as mentioned above, that mindfulness will begin to infuse personal experience with greater frequency. The format is quite simple: 10 minutes of intentional movement, 5 minute meditation, 1 mindful meal each and every day.
Movement provides an incredible opportunity to connect with your body. Functional movement is the movement we do all day long to complete our activities for daily living. Although these activities can certainly be practiced mindfully (vacuuming becomes a completely different experience for me when I really check-in), the movement practice in the 10-5-1 Daily is not this category of functional movement. Rather, it is movement done for the sake of moving in and of itself! Again, it is the approach that creates this shift. Attention is given to the breath and to the sensation of the movement, to the quality and to the effort, and to the accompanying thoughts during the movement. Becoming an observer to your thought forms becomes useful here, as if you were an outside witness to your chatter. The goal in the 10 minutes of mindful movement is to keep returning to your body and to listen. The movement practice can be most anything such as walking or running, yoga, foam rolling, resistance training, dancing in your living room, playing frisbee, or practicing a martial art. The underlying theme in any of these movement choices is staying present in the moment.
The 5 minute meditation is a chance to slow down, connect to your breath, and release your mind from thought. I use the word release here very specifically. Our minds are thought machines. The mind is constantly in idea generation mode through planning, organizing, assessing, judging, creating . . . and the mind excels at its job. The problem arises when we believe we are, in fact, these very thoughts. When we become enmeshed with our thinking mind we are unable to separate ourselves from our thoughts. Basically, this is one form of attachment. Meditation teaches us to release, become free of, these thoughts so we can sense the presence of fundamental being. When we quiet down sufficiently, we discover that a spaciousness exists beyond thought. This vast landscape of open awareness promotes a subtle, yet profound recuperation that fuels our spirit.
In our busy lives of doing, it is very common to eat while also doing something else. Several months ago, you could commonly find me eating while reading, while working on the computer, while standing in the kitchen tending to household needs, while in the car, and alongside a Facebook session. Fortunately, we have a fairly regular family dinner where we sit together, eat slowly, and talk about our day. However, with every other meal in my day, I was eating functionally. Meaning, eating was secondary to my other prioritized function or activity. The 10-5-1 Daily has challenged me to eat while only doing eating. At least 1 meal a day, you will now find me clearing the table, pushing my work aside, and sitting with my prepared meal. There is my breath, the taste of each bite, the sensation of chewing and swallowing, the admiration of the food’s colors and textures . . . there is nourishment.
How do I Show up in Life?
I like this idea of being in a research relationship with myself. Personal research keeps me in check about my choices and helps me to understand my motivations in each situation. Research also keeps me curious about who I am and how I interact in the world. In the 10-5-1 Daily, a key research question is: How do I show up here, in this moment, with myself, in this space? Really, this question is an act of self-reflection that provides important feedback to guide our life’s work. With each practice in the 10-5-1 Daily, there is the potential to find yourself just as you are, and for all of it to be okay just as it is, right in that moment. Precisely then, you can peer into, or through, or from within, your essential self.
Certainly, you can always increase the amount of time you practice meditation or engage in a mindful run. You may even find yourself committed to mindfully eating 100% of the time! The 10-5-1 Daily is offered as a guideline for a minimum standard practice. If something is important to us, we can usually dedicate 20 minutes each day to it and, obviously, we are dependent on the energy from food. The real obstacle in the 10-5-1 Daily is transitioning states between our mode of doing and our mode of being.
Learning how to quickly and efficiently move between the extremes on the continuum of doing and being is a good and worthy undertaking. Not only will it help us keep our stress levels in check, but more fundamentally, it will give us physical and emotional resiliency. After all, if there is one challenge we each face in this lifetime over and over, it is the ability to “bounce back” from unexpected circumstances. Mindfulness teaches us how to be flexible and receptive in those moments when we are habitually used to contracting and reacting to the situation. Emotional and physical resiliency reduces damage to our physiological systems by minimizing the polar extremes of perceived stress. Instead, we enjoy calmer waters.