December 23, 2013

How to Be Free: 10 Simple, Transformative Daily Life Practices.

Daily life is a practice in which we can try to live as mindfully and happily as possible.

For me personally, that definitely includes the practice of hatha yoga and meditation.

However, even if you’re not into “yoga” or “meditation,” there are still bunches of ways you can practice mindfulness and happiness.

Here are 10 suggestions. May they be of benefit.

1. Have good posture.

Sit and stand up straight. Lengthen your spine. Lift the crown of your head. Grow tall.

2. Breathe.

Breathe deeply and consciously. It helps immeasurably, especially if you’re tired, stressed, angry, upset, worried, overwhelmed or confused. In other words, human.

Alternatively, just pause and bring your attention to your breath but don’t change it. Just notice the inhale going in and the exhale going out. Stay with your breath for a minute or two. Take this kind of pause periodically throughout the day.

3. Walk with mindfulness.

By this, I don’t mean walking meditation, which is also a lovely thing to do. That’s the zen practice in which you walk in super slow motion and meditate.

Walking with mindfulness can be done when walking at a normal pace, even when listening to music, sometimes, if you want. Notice your feet and legs, Ankles and knees and hips. Your breath. How amazing that your body can move this way, so smoothly transporting your bones around. Walk with gratitude. Walk with wonder. Walk with mindfulness.

4. Act from the heart.

Practice Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion. Cultivate compassion. Do random acts of kindness.

If you’re in a relationship—and you are—shower your partner with love. If you’re not “in a relationship” with someone else (or even if you are), your primary relationship is that with yourself. So, we all need to shower ourselves with more love.

How can we be kinder? Gentler? More compassionate? More loving?

5. Honor your body.

In daily life practice, this means sleeping when tired, eating when hungry, going out and socializing when you need to interact and communicate, staying home and reading and meditating when you need to contemplate. Relaxing when you need to relax. Moving when you need to move.

6. Honor your emotions.

Emotions come and go all day long, nonstop. They overlap and at times we can feel 10 different and sometimes contradictory things all at once. Humans are complicated, but we all experience the same types of emotions. Honor them, feel them, let them go naturally when their time is up. Whether a pleasurable or unpleasant emotion, see if you can allow it without attaching to or pushing it away.

7. Serve somebody.

Practice karma yoga. Act on the behalf of others. Be selfless. (After all, there is no self.)

One way I do this every day is by cooking. My husband and I share kitchen duties, so if he cooks breakfast, I cook lunch and he cooks dinner—or vice versa. Whenever I cook, I can make the meal an offering of love by being mindful as I prepare the food.

8. Exercise.

My preferred forms of exercise is yoga. (I’m an addict and an evangelist, I can’t help it!) I also enjoy walking, hiking, biking and swimming.

Any form of exercise can be a mindfulness practice. Be present. Notice your breathing. Notice your body. Notice your thoughts. Notice your emotions. Exercise is invigorating, healthy and spiritual, too, who knew!

9. Relax.

Slow down. Unplug. Shut down all your devices. Connect with nature, the fresh air, the sky, your breath. Lie down. Take a nap, maybe. Turn on some classical music or watch a movie or do whatever soothes you. Breathe and relaaaax.

10. “Stop, drop and roll.”

When I was in elementary school and they taught us about fire safety, the rule if your clothes caught on fire was to “stop, drop and roll.” For some reason, that slogan came into my mind recently, and I realized that it’s applicable to daily life practice, too.

When you get caught in a pattern of negativity—ill will, jealousy, anger, fear, self-hate or whatever it may be—stop.

Stop. Notice that you’ve been swept away from the present moment.

Drop. Let it go. Just as simple as that. Surrender. You don’t need to hold onto it anymore.

Roll. Life goes on. Continue on your way until you need to stop, drop and roll again.


Relephant Reads:

How to Access the Mindfulness Within You.

Mindfulness for Beginners: Dispelling 7 Myths of Meditation.

Mindfulness for Children.


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Image: courtesy of author

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