As the New Year begins, you may be thinking about how this year will be different. You may set goals and make plans for change. This is also a good time to practice mindfulness. Taking time to get present can help us in knowing where we want to go and how best to get there. Here are five methods to help you embrace mindfulness and find your Zen as you welcome the New Year.
Begin With An Intention
How we start our day is important and having a morning ritual is a simple way to get started on the right track. Taking a moment each morning to set an intention for your day is an excellent way to do this.
Think about something you want in your life and set your intention around that. Maybe it is more peace, healing of some kind, or to be happy. Then go about your day with your intention in mind. Write your intention in a journal, and at the end of the day recall ways that you moved toward your purpose and activities or people that either helped or derailed you.
This practice will help you be mindful of how your day-to-day activities and how people in your life are supporting or sabotaging you.
Connect With Your Breath
Get still and try this simple breathing exercise to help you listen to your body. This exercise is a great way to get more in tune with the subtle body, and to stay more in that rest and digest phase of being. You may find that your mind becomes distracted and wanders. When you become aware that your mind has wandered gently, bring your attention back to your breath.
- Find a comfortable seat. Sit on the floor or a chair with your back upright, and rest your hands comfortably.
- Draw your awareness inward and relax your body as you notice sensations, tightness, or tension while breathing mindfully.
- Draw your awareness to your breath. Feel the natural flow of breath as it moves in and out, noticing where you feel your breath in your body. It might be in your abdomen, chest, throat, or your nostrils. Feel the sensations of breath, one breath at a time. Begin to relax areas of tightness or tension.
- Be kind to yourself. Your mind may start to wander. This is natural and happens to everybody. When you notice that your mind has wandered gently, bring your awareness back to your breath.
- Find gratitude. After a few minutes, begin to notice your whole body as you relax even more deeply, and then offer yourself some gratitude for finding this time to move inward and let go.
Get On Your Mat
Yoga is one of the best ways to get connected to your body and mind, It can help you to begin to make more conscious choices about how you want to be in life.
If you haven’t yet tried yoga, or if you’ve taken a “yoga break,” consider pulling out your mat. Yoga can help you begin to let go of stress, connect, and find that place of peace and joy that is within you and that is always there.
Prioritize Quiet Time
Meditation is the highest form of yoga, in which all other yoga poses and breathing practices are preparation. There is much research on the positive benefits of meditation.
It’s a misnomer that you have to stop your mind to meditate. It’s more about one-pointed awareness. And you don’t have to sit for an hour to reap any benefits. Start slowly with 1-5 minutes, focusing on your breath cycle. Your mind may wander, and when you become aware that it has, gently and kindly bring it back to your breath. Make a commitment to sit each day, get quiet and listen as you focus on your breath.
Some days will be easier than others. Practice letting go of each day as you experience and embrace the next practice with wonder and curiosity. Add small increments of time each week working your way to a comfortable length of time.
Nurture In Nature
When we spend time in nature and are present for the sights, sounds, and beauty, we are positively affected. Stress levels drop, as Mother Nature can regulate the body’s nervous system.
As we spend time outdoors, our breath deepens, our muscles loosen, and our mind begins to relax. Making contact with the earth by standing barefoot can increase these benefits and grounds us in our body. Find a place to connect and bring your attention to your feet. Notice how the earth feels ~ the temperature, textures, and sensations. Then notice how the rest of you body feels.
As you mark the end of one chapter and the beginning of another, now is a very good time to be more intentional about where you are heading. Any of these practices can help you do just that as you start the New Year!