by Channing Hixon
Let me start off by saying that my "sneaks" are suggestions, and my suggestions are just that... suggestions. I say this because the mind is just like the body in that it is unique to the individual. Ya know, "different strokes for different folks" and all.
We all have different ways we learn, process information, think, react etc. So what may work for me, may not work for you, or vise versa. So you will hardly ever hear me declare any "Guaranteed to Work" jargon. Nonetheless, I found that honing in on the 5 senses (either going through each one at a time, or just focusing on one sense) has helped me become mindful and aid with deepening my meditation practice. With that, these suggestions are here for you to try out, and see how if feels to utilize them in your everyday life.
SNEAK 1: JUST WALK IT OFF
I know you know the phrase. Sometimes situations occur where you need to step away, so do just that, step away. Choose to take a little stroll. I'm not talking about a hike or walk the entire length of a large park (unless you have time and access, then definitely do that), but I mean just a quick 5-10 minute stroll. Find somewhere with minimal distractions. As I'm walking, I try to bring my attention to my body. Is my walk rigid? Is it fluid? Is my pace fast or slow? I don't try to change once I've noticed, just being aware. Then maybe I focus on my feet connecting with the ground, the air moving around and within me. Give it go... and if your mind wanders, gently bring it back to focus on your body in motion.
SNEAK 2: PRIMPING
If you have 4-type kinky-coil natural hair as I do, then you already understand what it's like to basically schedule half a day specifically to washing, detangling, and styling your hair. It is a process! Hashtag, Natural Hair Problems. Even if you don't spend hours doing your hair, think about taking the opportunity to come to a mindful mediation while grooming. I put aside worrying on whether all this work will reap any curly benefits in the morning, and instead I observe the current state my hair is in. I feel the shift of weight on my head as the water hydrates my thirsty coils. The tingling of my scalp as I massage in the shampoo. As I further bring my attention in solely on this process, it's as if I can actually hear my coils spring back to life. So, next time your are styling your hair, brushing your beard, or even brushing your teeth, let your mind focus solely on the task at hand. Give the ole noggin' a practice at being just in the moment, all other thoughts and analysis set aside.
SNEAK 3: STRIP
One of my simplest yet most liberating feelings is when I get home and I'm able to take off my work attire. Come on, tell me your whole being doesn't just take a big sigh of relief every time you get home and strip down. Females, think about when you take off that bra... Hallelujah, sweet liberation! From my bra, the waist-hugging pants, even down to my watch on my wrist. When I release my body from uncomfortable attire, I take a moment to cherish the freedom. I close my eyes softly and take a slow inhale, feeling the ease of my chest and ribs expanding unrestrained by my bra. I exhale. Inhaling, I use the pad of my fingertips to gently massage my wrist wear my watch held on secure, then up to my middle finger where a ring was. Exhale. Next time you remove an article of clothing or jewelry, give a little attention to that area using your hands to comfort and caress. Take a few moments with your free being before continuing with your routine.
SNEAK 4: NOM NOM NOM
We all love food. Who doesn't love food? Food is nourishment. Food is life. Especially when the food is delicious. Know when you're out with people chatting it up, then the food comes out and it is so good that everyone is silently? Guess what, right then you are using your sense of taste to become present, and being present helps you to become mindful. I am like many people, that when I eat alone at home I have to eat with the TV on. I needed the background noise as a "distraction". Then one day I decided to eat in silence. As a "TV eater" it was a bit intimidating at first to just sit quietly with nothing but the sounds of my chewing. Then, I asked myself "Why?". What is so unsettling about eating in silence? I couldn't provide myself a rational answer, so I did it. I sat, I started to eat. At first my mind was wondering all over the place, giving me the distraction that I thought I needed. I had to pause and take a breath, consciously deciding to give all my attention to my food and my food alone. I noticed the taste, the temperature, the texture, which side I naturally chose to chew on... as I went on I found that my gaze softened, my jaw relaxed, and my mind was clear.
SNEAK 5: THE HILLS ARE ALIVE, WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Before you say anything, yeah... I like the Sound Of Music. Julie Andrews is amazing. I'm assuming at one point or another you've all "gotten lost" in the music. The melodies activate the imagination, taking you to a fantasy land, or the chords hit a nerve and your emotions go into overdrive. I am a huge advocate for the power of sound. There's nothing like being in a mood and putting on your favorite music to reflect, enhance, or adjust it, and let yourself just drift away. It's so easy to get lost in the music, but when you're practicing being mindful, you want to be fully present with the music in that moment. What I mean by that is, when I am using music as my method of meditation aid I listen deeper than I do regularly. I close my eyes to encourage my ears to take the lead. I listen for the subtly undertones of the instruments, I listen to the vibrations that the music creates. As I try to listen to all the song has to offer, I don't find myself drifting away but rather turning inwards. As I connect deeper with the unique sounds of the song, I become more aware on the effects it has on my body, mind, and spirit.
Meditation doesn't have to be an hour (or even 30 minutes) long process of sitting still, lighting incense, chanting, or whatever else have you. It takes lots of practice to get to that level anyways. It's about providing your mental state with the chance to receive some self-care. A healthy mind is the greatest contributor to transforming your body, emotions, and life. So start with just 5 minutes. Take 5 minutes out of your day to be mindful.
Let me know how it goes in the comments below. Or if you have any suggestions for meditation tips that worked for you, please feel free to share them.
Grow With Your Flow,