Been doing your meditation and/or yoga practice for a while now and you just can’t hold the calm outside of your class? Well, join the club, it’s very common, especially in the beginning (and even for those who’ve been at it for years) benefits into your daily live show immediately.
Wouldn’t it be nice to just have your teacher on you every minute of the day? Yeah, it would for sure, but that just isn’t possible, unfortunately! But instead, you are getting a bit of a quick guide from me to see how you can bring your mindfulness into daily life!
#1 Focus on your breathing
This is probably the easiest tip that I can give to you. And probably also one of the best known as well. If there’s anything that you can control in your life, it is your breath. It’s proven that breathing deeply and completely can lower your blood pressure, and heart rate, and it just brings you back to a general rest and relaxed state of being.
Whenever you are feeling that emotions are heating up, in whatever kind of situation, try to start breathing profoundly. Of course, when you are in an argument or something, it might be a bit harder to do. Therefore, don’t get upset afterwords that you lost your peace. Just be aware that after a stress trigger, the moment you get out of the situation, you can just start to breathe calmly again.
How to do this? Well, if you haven’t learnt any exercises just yet in your practice, it’s quite simple: Just close your eyes if possible (don’t do this while driving, then keep your eyes just wide open!), and start breathing through your belly. Inhale through the nose, inflate the belly fully and after that, exhale at the same rate.
Another tip I’d like to pass on, which I often use in my yoga classes, is to exhale through your mouth three times. The emphasis on three times as more might get you a bit dizzy.
#2 Take Down Distractions
This is probably easier said than done, but at the beginning of your practice, it might be good to avoid certain triggers and distractions. And there are a couple of easy ones to start with.
For example, eat in complete silence. For some easy to do, but for others, this might be a challenge (moms and dads, I’m sorry…). And I’m not talking just about shutting the chatter, I’m also talking about basically everything around you. Don’t go into your phone, turn off the television and radio. Avoid most stimuli. It might be weird in the beginning and if you can’t handle it yet, try to talk you into just one silent meal a day.
Of course, distractions are quite inherent when it comes down to daily life. It doesn’t have to be all that big either. It’s just about doing small things. And in the end, they might become big things.
These days there are also a lot of tools to help you with those distractions. If you are living in a city and you want to get rid of some noise, think about noise-cancelling earplugs. They aren’t all that expensive anymore.
#3 Give Yourself a Break
Numbers 3 and 5 are looking a bit similar, but in this tip, I actually literally mean to give yourself a break! Whether you are at work or at home. Even if it’s just for a minute or so. Give yourself micro-breaks. In these little breaks of a minute or so, tune in on your breathing and your general well-being. You don’t need to sit down for hours and hours to get results from mindfulness.
#4 Sharing Is Caring
Whenever you are going through difficult emotions or thoughts. Be sure that you tell people. We’ve all been through periods where we bottle things up, just to find out that in the end they come and ten thousandfold or so!
It’s not just about expressing yourself. It’s also about being honest with yourself. When you are in the beginning of your practice or you’ve been going at it for years! Emotions are always going to arise, but the way you handle them, that is your choice.
I’m happy that I’m in a Buddhist congregation where they talk a lot about this. The lama I’m following says (according to my interpretation) that it is normal to have thoughts and that it’s best not to push them away. This, to me, also goes for emotions.
So, sharing in this case can be looked at in a couple of ways. You can look at it as a conversation on self-reflection. You might have a conversation in your mind, or you can write things down. If you are a social person, you might even share with other people. Do whatever feels good to you.
#5 Don’t Be Too Harsh On Yourself
And then finally.. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Very often I have people coming to my classes that say stuff like: “I still don’t know how to shut down my thoughts.” And that’s quite judgemental and hard on yourself. It is normal that you can’t shut down your thoughts. That’s what makes you a living being. The difference is that you don’t have to get into your thoughts. But that’s a subject for another day.
Being hard on yourself stands against everything that mindfulness, yoga or meditation stands for. In all the books it is said that you have to be kind to others, but ALSO to yourself. Don’t take things too seriously and whenever you fall off the wagon, just dust yourself off and get back on!