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January 11, 2018
While most of us understand the concept of living mindfully, and can indeed put those actions into practice in idyllic yoga retreat type settings, how do we incorporate those same vital practices in the midst of our hectic everyday lives, particularly at the times when we probably need them the most.
Even as someone who works in the wellness sphere (I teach corporate yoga & meditation sessions, and write, and speak about mindfulness), one of my greatest challenges is “practicing what I preach”. I’ll let you in on a little secret; even yogis get frustrated in traffic, overwhelmed by their kids and household responsibilities, discouraged by career setbacks. Regardless of what path we choose in life, we are all human, and all prone to these moments of stress.
Everyday mindfulness helps to keep these moments in check and steers us away from spiraling out of control. But let’s be real, being mindful doesn’t always work, we will lose our cool, cry, lament, eat handfuls of dark organic chocolate at a time, and that’s ok. Letting go of unrealistic standards of mindfulness is the first step towards living a more balanced and harmonious life. Accept that sometimes things will go sideways, but arm yourself with the tools to try to reign things back in when they do. So, let’s talk technique, how exactly do we become more mindful in the midst of the everyday chaos we lovingly call life?
I’m constantly in awe of Mother Nature and her phenomenal healing powers. And while I love an eco-resort or beach getaway as much as the next wanderluster, skipping town for an epic Eat Pray Love adventure isn’t always in the cards. Thankfully stepping outside, into any little slice of nature will have an immediate calming effect. Parks, waterfronts, nature trails, anyplace where you can listen to the trees rustle, feel the wind, the warmth or coolness of the air will do the trick. Take your lunch break in the park and connect to the sky, the trees, the birds, by simply being there, being present. Put your phone away and just breathe.
Did I say put your phone away? Did you cringe? Well, I meant it, and YOU CAN DO IT! I know, we are all habitually tethered to our devices, but trust me when I say this, putting your phone down is necessary to practice mindfulness, otherwise, our minds are constantly being stimulated in different directions, quite often to the point of mental exhaustion. As an entrepreneur who uses social media as a professional platform, I am admittedly guilty of checking and clicking and liking, when I should be in the moment. But, I am slowly getting better at stepping away from the digital world and into the present moment. I find it helpful to block out times when I won’t use my phone, a couple of hours in the evening over dinner with my son is a big one; it helps me tune into him and really listen and interact without mindless distractions
The other night I was doing some holiday shopping, on my iPad, in bed. My eyeballs were burning, my brain was whirling thinking of who I had to buy for, and what toy, game, electronic devices they would most enjoy. I finally hit send, logged off, crawled into bed and lay there wide awake for the next 30 minutes or so. Sound familiar? You see, I broke one of my mindfulness cardinal rules, Powering Down Before Bed, it’s a big one, and it really works. Whether your nighttime compulsion is emailing, retail therapy, or working your way through your Netflix queue, it’s important for your brain and your body to say “see ya” to screen time at a reasonable point before bed. Powering down and settling into a bedtime routine is a great way to be mindful and prepare for rest. I love to take essential oils and massage them into my hands and feet, curl up with a clay hot water bottle or a warm cup of herbal tea, and read a little before drifting off almost immediately to a peaceful sleep.
I was surprised at how quickly Starting The Day With Gratitude has become a simple and welcome part of my morning routine. Here’s how it works; in the beginning, I set my alarm about 15 minutes earlier than I would normally. Wake up, sit (in bed if you like!) and breathe, eyes closed, and think of the things you are grateful for. Say thank you. Open your eyes, begin your day. It’s THAT EASY! I’ve been doing this quick little morning mediation with my son for this past year, we’ve added in crystals (which we both love!), and we take turns listing off the things we’re grateful for. It’s simple and sweet, and while it doesn’t guarantee the day won’t take some unexpected twists and turns, it absolutely gets us off to a good start.
Mindfulness takes practice, and like anything worthwhile, the more we do it, the more we begin to see positive results. Making mindful activities a priority is important, whether it’s your morning meditation, your evening power-down, or finding time for a weekly yoga class, giving mindfulness the same energy as every other important activity in your life is key. In this case, technology can be useful! iCal your nature breaks, use a sleep app to set a soft alarm as a reminder that it’s time to put the screens away and enjoy your bedtime routine. The sweetest part about mindfulness is that it can be practiced anywhere, anytime. Give thanks on your yoga mat, in the grocery store, walking home from school; make any moment the perfect opportunity to drop in and be present.
Charlotte Singmin is a model/actor, yoga & meditation teacher, and freelance writer, with a passion for Green Beauty, Sustainable Style, and Health & Wellness.
In 2016, she was honoured as one of Huffington Post’s 50 Most Inspiring Canadians for her work in the wellness sphere, as well as gladly donating her time to appear in Rethink’s campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness. In 2017, Charlotte had the honour of judging the Cert Clean Beauty Awards, recognizing excellence in the Green Beauty community, as well as being featured as an inspiring vlogger for FASHION MAGAZINE’s Beauty Vlogger Search. She is currently working on her second photo shoot collaboration with positive body image advocate Be Body Aware, and continues to write and create digital content, from a healthy living point of view.