5 ways to mindfulness - listen deeply

5 ways to mindfulness - listen deeply

Listen Deeply, Listen Deeply

As a French artist on a rooftop in India once uttered through clouds of smoke and incense - "There are many ways up the mountain". It turned out that I was sharing an Indian homestay with a rather interesting man who loathed the cold European winters, an Indio-phile who played the sitar in a very 70s Beatles psychedelic way, and had a love of puppies, bharanatyam dance, beedis and other smokables. I was certainly not judging his way up the mountain - by any means, but at that time I was questioning my own. What is important, what is my purpose in life, what am I doing here, which mountain should I actually be heading for? All those questions that we all ponder on the odd occasion when we are at a crossroads in our lives...or on a Saturday night when its far too late to be getting home.

I love it that we all have our own paths, maybe we all have our own mountains. My path turned out to be yoga and my mountain to climb was learning how to live life fully. After a few months in India, life became more of a yoga retreat than a holiday. Every morning after class, when I rolled up my yoga mat to leave, I stopped for a few minutes by the door to focus on the after-zing of the yoga practice. And it became a ritual that have used since then - during my practice, at the end of a yoga class before I drop my yoga mat and rush off to the next thing; and in all kinds of situations in my life - it has become a life-saver in moments of extreme difficulty and discomfort.

It is essentially a practice in 'mindfulness' which is useful when my thoughts are all over the place, worries and troubles are bouncing off the walls, my mind is jumping from one thing to another, one person to another, one event to another, one anxiety after another, you get the picture...even though your body is here, your mind is a million miles away, considering a million options, and you can't quite keep your mind clear enough to focus on one thing and find an appropriate response.

This is a great way to 'be present' - to calm your mind, anchor your emotions, get things in perspective, and clear your thinking - and the breath is used as the bridge. You do not have to do this on your yoga mat. You can be standing, sitting or lying down - you can practice it anywhere and the more you practice, the more you notice.

    1. Focus on my body - Feel the ground, scan through the body from bottom to top, front to back. Be aware of any sensation that may be dominant.
    2.  Observe and listen deeply

    1. Focus on my breathing - be aware of the movement of the breath inside my body. The breath is automatic, I do not have to interfere with it but I may notice how it changes in certain situations over a period of time. 
    2. Observe and listen deeply

    1. Focus on the difference between the experience of breathing in and breathing out - follow each breath with my full attention to keep the mind from wandering off, and focus my mind like a laser. 
    2. Practice this often.

    1. Focus on the moments where the inhale changes to an exhale, and the moment where there is an urge to breathe in as if all the cells are hungry for your next inhale. 
    2. Observe this happening now.

    1. Focus on the spaces between the breaths at the end of the exhale and before the next inhale. Drop into the space.
    2. Observe this happening now.

What do you find there? Keep a notebook handy and scribble down anything even it does not make sense.

Please let me know about your experiences.

Judy Hirsh

yogamalai mat bag

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