We define mindfulness as, "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment."
But if you've ever found yourself immediately checking your smartphone for social media updates after your yoga practice, you may have missed the point. With the pace of the modern world quickening at an exponential rate, and the continued explosion of technology, being mindful is becoming increasingly more difficult. We are in our heads most of the time, either living in the past or thinking about the future.
So why is it that after taking an hour out of my day to focus on conscious breathing and moving my body, that the mindfulness I had cultivated seems to evaporate the moment I set foot outside of the yoga studio?
The practice of yoga and meditation was what first introduced me to mindfulness, and it was a huge awakening in my life. However, I began to realize that I had confined this practice to the classroom only. Being mindful required the peace and serenity of a studio, a mat or pillow, and time out of my normal day. But what I really yearned for was a mindfulness practice that I could carry with me off my mat and into my life, using it as a grounding tool whenever I needed.
When I became increasingly aware of the feminine energy of mindfulness, I realized that at the core of staying grounded in the present moment, was the trait of sensuality. The whole idea of being grounded and connected to the Earth, is in itself a feminine principle!
Being in the moment is about getting out of our heads and into our bodies. Your body does not live in the past or the future; it is in the here and now. So how do we connect our bodies through this grounding sensuality? By delighting our senses!
Here are a few ideas to help you tune into your five senses as a form of mindfulness:
Whenever you are eating or drinking, really focus on the taste of item. Is it bitter or sweet? Salty or spicy? Being mindful when you are eating is so important, and will help you to slow down and aid your digestion.
Electronic gadgets keep us out of the present moment and unaware of what's happening outside of the screen. Try leaving your phone at home and take a walk. So many of us walk with our heads down, buried in our thoughts, without even realizing it. Look up to the beautiful horizon and to the people you pass on the street. Notice how the shadows dance in the sun.
We rarely pay attention to everything we hear. Instead of using selective hearing and only focusing on one sound, close your eyes, soften your ears and allow yourself to absorb all of the sounds around you — the whirl of the wind, the rustle of dry leaves, or the jingle of the tags on a dog's collar when it walks by. Bathe yourself in all of the sounds that surround you.
We are always touching something, but the majority of the time we are not aware of it unless it is an unpleasant sensation like pain or burning. Practice becoming aware of everything that is touching your body — from the warmth of the sun on your face, to the texture of the grass beneath your bare feet. Feel the fabric of your shirt touching your skin as it drapes over your body.
Our sense of smell is such a gift, so literally allow yourself to stop and smell the roses! Appreciate the smell of wet dirt in the cold morning dew, or the scent of coffee roasting with cinnamon wafting through your kitchen.
Grounding yourself to these sensual, earthly experiences, will allow you to relish the present moment. The residual effects on your mind and your body are highly beneficial. You don't always need a meditation pillow and a mantra to practice mindfulness. Simply allow your body to receive and delight in all the glorious gifts that surround us in each moment, by tuning into your senses.