Some of us can feel far from the lofty goal of daily, involved yoga asana, pranayama, and meditation for long periods of time in the morning and afternoon.
I have caught glimpses of the potential of these practices, but find it nearly impossible to uphold this. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that we can’t include small doses of mindfulness in our day-to-day experiences.
Movement experts have told us that it is better to move throughout the day in shorter intervals than to concentrate all of our movement and have a sedentary lifestyle the remainder of the time. Yes to getting into a few yoga postures after digging in the garden, some gentle movement after lunch, and in the evening before bed.
The same goes for brain stretching and growing, which we call neuroplasticity.
Have you ever heard of micro-meditation? It’s a simple way to hack happiness. One example of a micro-meditation can be set in motion when we catch ourselves present in a pleasing situation, like watching the sun reflected on the rippling water. Take that sacred pause that the sages have been encouraging us to step into for eons, and notice what it actually feels like in your body to be experiencing the moment.
Entering the state of full receptivity where there is no grasping for the next moment allows the mind time to integrate the experience and make the necessary associations to imprint happiness, including the pattern of neurotransmitters firing. As we come to know the felt sense of contentment and joy, the gratitude response will naturally follow, and you will move out of stress response. All of this requires about 30 seconds, according to author Dr. Rick Hansen, then you can rest in the experience or move on.
In our commercialized world, we are rapidly fed images and concepts that stir craving and dissatisfaction in the name of creating an emptiness that is filled with more consumption. We are not given time to fully integrate the pleasing experience that we are promised if we buy that product, try that diet, take that trip, or…fill in the blank.
As we gather positive associations through micro-meditations, or moments of presence, we actually counter the negativity bias, an ancient survival mechanism of our neurobiology, and increase the likelihood of experiencing joy in a more lasting way.
One could also think of “chewing” on what you are taking in rather than swallowing it whole. Spreading the joy by breaking it down and refining it into the most subtle components. Experiencing the nuances of the flavors and the visceral response, which is exactly why Ayurveda suggests chewing each bite of food upwards of 20 times.
So take a bite out of life—but don’t forget to chew.