There are many advantages to solitude, ashram life and connection to nature, but when you're caught up in the hustle and bustle of big city, mindful living isn't always easy.
With the sounds of blazing sirens, incessant car horns, long checkout lines and train delays abound, these five habits will help you maintain your inner peace and sanity in today's busy world.
1. Read to feed your soul.
Ancient scriptures like the Yoga Sutras of Pantajali, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads, are the authority on how to live the science of yoga both on and off your mat. But these texts aren't always the most accessible for those of us who don't have an experienced teacher who can help demystify their meaning.
A more popularized translation like Eknath Easwaran's Bhagavad Gita
, incorporates a helpful glossary and other notes to help readers better understand the messages of the scripture. His translation of the ancient poetry is simple, yet highly effective.
There's also Geshe Michael Roach's How Yoga Works, which weaves the teachings of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras into an easier to follow, fictional novel. Both of these alternatives help us receive the teachings in a far more accessible, universal way.
If you find yourself short on time, try loading your social media feeds with inspiring people who live consciously. "You Are Not Stuck" is a popular Facebook page that features aspirational, yet practical advice. The Instagram feeds of In Pursuit Of Magic and Chalk Project offer uplifting quotes accompanied by beautiful, artistic imagery. Even the Twitter account of Russell Simmons keeps it real with motivational advice for the busy person and yogi/meditator alike.
2. Devote yourself to love.
Realizing that we are all one is the aim of any yoga practice. Namaste honors the light, or reflection, we see of ourselves in one another. And while not all urban warriors may not agree with the idea of God or Source or Universal Energy, a yoga practice helps us see ourselves as no different from any other living being.
This is an important reminder for anyone who lives in a diverse, urban environment — that we are all equal. This idea alone is already aligning you with the energy that we all share in this world, by virtue of just being alive together!
To devote yourself to this love and light energy within you, carry a small picture of someone who represents love, ease and joy in your wallet as a reminder. Or you can create a devotional mood in your home by lighting some incense or spraying some aromatic essential oils to keep the energy pure. Load up your iPod with the wisdom and teachings of Ram Dass or the positive affirmations of Louise Hay.
Don't get lost in the details of your busy life and stay committed to elevating your mood.
3. Practice non-violence.
Although we're all super busy and caught it up in our life's little dramas, another goal of yogic philosophy is to come into union with all living beings, with nature and the flow of the universe.
If you're not a vegetarian, consider setting aside just one meal a day or even one meal a week to avoid animal products. It's better for the environment and even your health. And if you don't recycle, please at least start there.
Turn your awareness to the impact your everyday choices have on your friends, family, co-workers and of course, Mother Earth. Every little bit helps, so maybe just for now, eat with your own reusable bamboo utensils or cloth napkin, next time you order takeout. Invest in a refillable water bottle instead of using plastic bottles.
4. Listen to good, healing vibes.
So many musicians all over the world are creating yoga inspired tunes to help us receive the teachings via sound. Musicians like MC Yogi, DJ Drez, SriKala, Trevor Hall, Michael Franti, SOJA, Nahko and Medicine For The People, are firing up the playlists of yogis everywhere, and anyone on the path toward mindful leaving.
Kirtan (call and response singing) is an important practice for refining our hearing and speech through repetitive chanting. You can sing along to the melodies of Jai Uttal, Krishna Das, Durga Das and Shyam Das. Or if you want to experience a live kirtan, check out your local yoga studios to see who is offering one soon.
5. Meditate regularly.
Without meditation there can be no yoga, whether it's on or off the mat. The physical postures of yoga are actually what prepares the body for meditation, by producing changes in the body's chemistry that improve our ability to reach a meditative state.
Ram Dass teaches that finding a quiet space is imperative for the new meditator and he encourages you to sit as long as you can, but no longer than you're ready for. So for us busy urbanites, we need to remind ourselves not to stop our meditation at our first impulse to get up and do something else. A common habit of anyone with a busy mind and always on the go. So commit to detaching from your busy thoughts, even if it's only for a few minutes at a time.