Try This Yoga Instructor's One Super-Simple Way To Make Every Day More Mindful
In our current golden age of wellness, it's widely acknowledged that the mind and body are interconnected. We openly discuss our mental health, and many of us maintain practices like meditation and yoga that draw on ancient wisdom to promote the mind-body connection.
We are living in a time of incredible opportunity when it comes to wellness. Yet, while we understand the mind-body connection intellectually, we are completely out of touch with its application. We struggle with how to live in a way that facilitates mental and physical balance—a concept I discuss in my upcoming book Clean Mind, Clean Body.
We feel burdened by the pressure to appear "well" to the world, documenting our lives on social media, sharing an airbrushed version of reality with the world for validation. We subscribe to the cult of "crazy busy," bragging about our stress and wearing our sleep deprivation as a badge of honor. We throw around buzzwords like "self-care," but we don't understand the true meaning of wellness.
A few origins of our modern concept of "wellness" and why they matter.
The ancient practices that many of us now subscribe to as part of "wellness culture" were able to develop on a very different timeline, back when people weren't trying to squeeze so much into a day. Ayurveda, yoga, tai chi, meditation, and the healing arts arose out of self-study, plus trial-and-error by practitioners who shared a common quest to know themselves and to share knowledge with their communities.
What started to take hold in these ancient societies was practical health care, a way of maintaining health and well-being as part of daily life—rather than waiting for signs of sickness before addressing health issues. For example, shiatsu, a form of Japanese bodywork based on concepts in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), was originally practiced in the home between family members as a normalized way of caring for each other. Can you imagine families doing this together today?
We have an opportunity to make our wellness practices work for us all the time, not just in the moments we squeeze in to practice yoga, meditation, or prepare a nourishing meal. We have an opportunity to bring awareness to ourselves and the world around us by simply listening.
How to bring more mindfulness into your daily life.
Tai chi teaches us to bring awareness to all movements. It's a practice we might recognize as a group of people moving together calmly in a park, but in addition to a beautiful activity, it's also an all-the-time practice. Tai chi teaches simplicity, grace, ease, and coordination. This mindset is available to anyone interested: It requires paying attention to how you are now and practicing some humility to investigate how your movements, body position, and mindset contribute to your overall well-being.
Something awesome about tai chi is that you can practice it in any form, during any daily activity. For example, you can practice moving well and with self-awareness while you pick up groceries.
Lifting Groceries Practice
This simple practice works with lifting groceries, any object you would normally lift, and small children. If you try this with a child, let me know if you get any positive feedback from the little one. It's a favorite in our home.
- Stand next to your bag of groceries. Begin by bending at your knees and bring your hands to the floor for support.
- Use the strength of your arms so there is no pressure on your knees at all, and come into a comfortable squat position. Using your arms for support is critical to avoid tension on your knees that can lead to knee problems either suddenly or over time.
- Now, slide the bag close to you and give it a hug. If it's easy to hug with one arm, support yourself with the other hand on the floor to help yourself up. If the bag is too heavy to lift with one arm, remove one item at a time and place it on the counter until the bag is light enough for you to hug with one arm as you support yourself with the other arm.
- Lift the bag up and place it on the counter.
This isn't just about lifting the bag of groceries in a way that is safe and prevents injury. It's also about moving your whole body in order to build coordination and strength for other, more challenging activities. You'll maintain a calm state of mind, so this moment becomes a meditation. Apply this approach to more of your everyday movements, and you'll notice your self-care time expand to all of the time.
This practice also has a beautiful way of expanding to those around you. Someone might just notice you taking good care of yourself and start to breathe deeper as well. Our mind and body are interconnected, and so is our well-being with each other.