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Marni, our Mindful Yoga instructor at The Mind Body Heart Studio shares with us her top 7 habits to a mindful life.

1. Breath. Then Do. 

2. Move your body. 

3. Pause and think.

4. Be Inquisitive and ask questions. 

5. Spend time in and around nature. 

6. Listen, Look & Love. 

7. Make room for what's really necessary.

Here are my thoughts on mindful living and how these habits can manifest in daily life.

Mindfulness is about paying attention, with intention, living in the now and observing experiences without judgement. Mindfulness is trendy these days, and in my opinion, the modern social concept is pretty loaded with behavioural expectation. Just as Einstein is a “real” thinker, monks are legitimately “mindful.” It’s a big ask for yet more self-improvement. If it is a new concept, and even if it’s not, “living mindfully” all too easily can become another thing we are supposed to do, an action to be scratched off the To Do list, squeezed between “dentist appointment,” “school permission slip” and “pick up chicken for dinner.”

However, mindfulness is not something to be accomplished, it is not a project to tick off with a single course or a book to read. Mindfulness can just be a practice to be savoured in bits and pieces here and there throughout a lifetime. Setting out to practice mindfulness reaps great rewards. It is what centres us, puts a spark in our eyes, and brings magic and wonder to the smallest interactions.

Mindfulness leads to greater health, happiness, and sustainability. With mindful living we increase understanding of our worth and responsibility as humans. Right now, on our warming planet, in our affluent, abundant, and technically savvy cultures we are more often heading towards sickness, depression and fear of the future. New pathways and creativity inspired by mindful living may be the innovation we need to lead us out of some challenging times. Mindfulness can help us as a culture to change course. Our spirits are crying out for a movement toward a better way of living.

Slowing down, looking, and listening to our hearts and then taking authentic action is risky. Others may look at us funny if our choices go against the mainstream. But these behaviours are also adventurous and lead to exhilarating experiences. It becomes possible for the ordinary day to become extraordinary.

So, how do these habits manifest daily?

  • BREATHE. THEN DO – At least once a day, sit still and become aware of your breath and listen to your body, mind, and heart. Learning to understand the subtle changes and feelings within your body leads to self awareness in life. It leads to being able to discriminate between different thoughts in the brain allowing your higher mind and heart to drive how you engage with the world and people in it. It doesn’t have to be for long. Start with even 2 minutes a day and you will notice a difference.
  • MOVE YOUR BODY - Connection is what we all crave as human beings. Connection with ourselves, each other, and the universe. It starts with the connection to the physical body best accomplished through movement. It energises us and builds our capacity to breath in more of what life has to offer. It does not have to be a class, or ambitious endeavour. Simply find ways to move mindfully each day in a way that you love - whether that’s walking, surfing, skydiving, or putting on a good song and dancing around the house.
  • PAUSE AND THINK – Find a way to remind yourself to stop, pause and just think about how you are feeling each day. Notice what is happening in your life. This might mean slowing down when you eat and doing nothing else but paying attention to your food and your thoughts. Maybe practice becoming aware of a particular situation without taking any action. Observing without assumption or judgement is especially valuable concerning the big choices in life. Furthermore, just because you make a decision doesn’t mean you need act on it straight away. Give yourself time to reflect on all the possibilities and make a sustainable often wiser choice for the future. Sometimes we need to separate out what we (or others) think we should do from what is really right for us. The silence in the pause is what allows us to hear our own heart.
  • BE INQUISITIVE, ASK QUESTIONS AND ACT ACCORDINGLY – When we are centred with stillness and breathing we are living in the moment. We become aware to ask questions both big or small and can use the soul centred answers to guide us. Does this thing on my list need to get done now? How will my body feel after the chocolate cake vs. the green bliss ball? Do I really want to have a baby? Do I really want to own a house? Reflecting and asking questions allows us to be the leaders of our thoughts and decisions. Every choice we make is an opportunity for progress towards the life we want to live. We can move out of reaction mode, simply responding to cultural norms or old patterns of thought. For me this has led to some profound life affirming decisions, but most often manifests in my not running around on a useless errand and instead saying yes to making muffins with my 6 year old. Then the child becomes the teacher. Being in the moment is a gift of childhood we can carry into our adult lives, although more often we go the other way and pull our children out of their meditative play to rush to the next thing on our schedule. And so the day goes. One choice leads to another. Unless we stop and question our choices and move to do what feels good to us.
  • SPEND TIME WITH NATURE - Even five minutes a day of nature appreciation - sunrise, sunset, stargazing, or a garden will build your sense of interconnection, appreciation for beauty, and sense of possibility. You can even combine several of these habits into one. Step outside for a long early morning walk. Simply breathe in the air, ask yourself how you feel, and ask the universe to show you something cool. Take your early rising child along and they are sure to point out something you would miss. It will set you right for the whole day.
  • LISTEN, LOOK & LOVE – Practice listening to the universe and looking for guidance and opportunities to engage with your surroundings and the people in it. Practice setting an intention to really see people and things. There’s so much more I could say on this...in fact I’m going to focus on this subject in my next blog;-).
  • MAKE ROOM FOR WHAT'S REALLY NECESSARY – When you have less to take care of you have more time. It is that simple. Regularly pass along things and perhaps people that you no longer need or want in your life. Time is precious, save it for what is most important to you. There’s no need to spend time taking care of things that don’t bring you joy today. Open yourself up to peace, clarity and creativity in your personal space. I recently traced back some of my first learnings of mindfulness to listening to John Lennon’s “Watching The Wheels” while I roller skated around a friend’s house in 1981. I will forever keep those memories and his guiding lyrics in my heart. But I threw out the roller skates long ago!

I think what gets in the way of us living a mindful life today is most often our feeling that what makes us valuable is our accomplishments and what other people say about us. We spend heaps of time building up accolades, being seen at the right social event, and working more to pay for houses, cars, school, and whatever else we think is leading us to fulfilment. This is some serious time we could be sitting still, getting healthy, becoming aware, and choosing more discriminately how and with whom we spend our precious time. When we stop and pay attention we quickly realise what truly grants contentment comes from the attention and care we are able to give others and ourselves. Aligning our actions and reactions with our personal values is something that takes mindfulness in these fast times. Although life will have ups and downs we are more likely to experience the journey with a sense of joy and wonder.

For more insights or to begin practicing mindfulness join our Mind Body Heart Mindful Yoga Class or one of the many offerings on our timetable.

Hope to see you there.

Inspired instructor,
Marni Klein


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