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Be kind. Be patient. Be generous. Be accepting.
I started my healing journey not so long ago. As I’ve moved from “wading through it” to “becoming more focused,” I’ve realized that it is not going to be linear. There will be flows and ebbs.
The path of mindfulness kept pulling me back to “being in the present” routines. I no longer looked at them as routines. They became ingrained—my body was slowly rewiring from old habits and patterns.
It could be listening to your thoughts, going for a walk, a moment of silence, getting a facial or going for a spa treatment, styling your hair or getting your nail painted, smiling or even stretching once in a while, or it may be fulfilling that little dessert craving. Whatever it may be, these mindfulness routines will add immense value to your beautiful, growing self.
I derived each of them from practicing a combination of meditation techniques—including movement meditation, chakra meditation, and loving-kindness meditation.
Honestly, they are all things we do every day—it’s time to be more mindful about it.
All of these can be practiced for five minutes every day until they become a part of you.
Here are six “being in the present” routines that will help you boost your self-care:
1. Breathe and let go
You have heard people say this to you; you may have read it in books; you may have said this to others out of habit; if you are practicing mindfulness and meditation, you may be doing it already. But, are you really doing it mindfully? I am not saying breathe only when you are stressed or are in a tricky situation.
Take complete, full breaths (let’s say five times) whenever you can—like you mean it—like you are feeling every inch of your body, filling it with air, and letting go of everything you don’t need. Feel the functions of your nostrils, your throat, your lungs. Feel how your head, chest, stomach, arms, and feet feel when you breathe. Combine it with your daily activities consciously—when you are just lying down and reading a book, drinking coffee, or walking in the park.
2. Stretch your body and let out the toxicity
This may seem extremely tough if you are still figuring out self-nurturing and self-care. If there is one thing your body needs more than any other form of self-care, it is to relax your muscles from contracting all the time because you are in flight-or-fight response mode.
Maintain a 10 to 15-minute stretching routine every single day. Pick some simple stretching exercises. Stretch your arms and legs, your torso, and let the blood flow—feel it flow. Feel your breath guiding you all through this. Stretching will change your outlook on self-care.
3. Drink water and feel it flow
Other than the fact that we need to drink enough water (2.7-3.7 litres) every day, this magical liquid calms you down like no other potion. Try this out: the next time you drink water, feel everything happening in your body. Feel the water touching every part of your mouth, let your taste buds taste it, feel the temperature and how it changes, notice your throat muscles’ voluntary functions, the flow through the digestive tract to your stomach, and when it fills it up. Notice how your eyes, your nose, your skin, your toes feel when you drink water. Notice the way your breath rises and falls.
4. Pace your walk and watch your feet
One of the things you become mindful about when you practice mindfulness is the way you walk. It says a lot about how present you are feeling. As a practice, try pacing your walk in a certain pattern and watch your feet. Try it even when you are at home—feel your feet moving and how it responds to the pace. And you’ll notice that the rest of your body starts getting in sync with the present. Notice how you notice your heart beating, your lungs filling up and letting go, your eyes cleansing every time you blink, and much more.
5. Feel your skin and move with it
I started doing this as part of loving-kindness meditation, where I felt my skin with my breathing practices. I applied this to actually feeling my skin with the tips of my fingers. It keeps me present, and magically, it works as a self-spa treatment. It relaxes my muscles, and I start to release the tension.
With the tips of your fingers, trace every part of your face—your forehead, eyebrows, eyes, nose, cheekbones, lips, chin, throat, nape of your neck, shoulders, forearms, arms, wrist, fingers, your chest, stomach, pelvic area, hips, back, buttocks, thighs, knees, feet, and toes. Feel the insides of your mouth with your tongue. Close your eyes while you do this and see the magic happen.
6. Sit still and observe your surroundings
Now sitting still does not necessarily mean you are rock solid. It just means you are shifting your focus to your surroundings instead of focusing on your thoughts. This is almost close to the true movement meditation practice.
Find a place where you can watch a lot of people or other things. I find myself doing this organically in a park. Focus on one thing for five seconds, shift to the next thing for five seconds, the third for another five seconds, and continue doing this. You may bring your focus back to your breathing for 10 seconds and then go back to noticing your surroundings again.
For example, notice the colours on a pair of shoes, the braided hair, the sound and tone of someone talking, and you can go on. Try this for about five minutes. Pace yourself. You may stop it if you feel uncomfortable and resume some other time.
You could also try art therapy, which opens up a gamut of being in the present practices. Try these; I hope it brings you peace. You will discover many more as you begin your mindfulness journey and become serious about self-care. You will find your own practices that blend so well with your body.
May you be in this moment of abundance.