It’s the little mindfulness moments that we add to our daily routine that enable us to reduce stress. Here are 12 practices that, if introduced into your day, will result in lower stress levels.
1. Take a few minutes in the morning for quiet meditation. Sit or lie down and be with yourself. Better still, join the 7-7:45 a.m. Monday through Saturday mindfulness meditations at the Creston zendo. If the weather is warm and sunny and the air free of annoying insects, we sit in the Japanese garden. In more challenging outdoor conditions, we sit inside the zendo. No experienced is needed.
2. While driving, become aware of tension in your body. Are you hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel? Are your shoulders raised, your stomach tight? You can dissolve tension by noticing and letting go. Remember, being tense doesn’t improve your driving.
3. Every so often during the day, turn your attention inward and notice your breath as it goes in and out. Pay particular attention to the still quiet moment between the in-breath and the out-breath.
4. At lunch, do something different: take a walk or take 15 minutes to just sit and be quiet, observing and letting go of thoughts and feelings that enter your mind.
5. Use the everyday cues in your environment as mindfulness bells and take the time to “centre” yourself. When the telephone rings, let it ring three times before answering and during that time, just notice your breath. Each time you sit down at your computer, before taking it out of sleep mode, do a quick body scan to notice and release any tension.
6. Choose to eat one or two lunches per week in silence, chewing slowly and bringing full awareness to the smell, taste and textures of what you are eating.
7. At the end of the workday, review your activities of that day, congratulating yourself for what you’ve accomplished and letting go of mistakes.
8. Pay attention to the movement of your legs and arms on the short walk to your car. Notice the feelings in your ankles, knees and hips as you shift your weight from one foot to the other. Can you walk without feeling rushed?
9. Before putting your car in gear, sit quietly, and consciously make the transition from where you are to where you are going. Take a moment simply enjoy the moment. Whether you are heading into a pleasant situation or an unpleasant one, the feeling of enjoying the transition will enhance your experience.
10. While driving, notice if you’re rushing. What does this feel like? What could you do about it? Remember, you’ve got more control than you can imagine.
11. When you park your car, take a minute to come back to the present. Orient yourself to being fully present within the upcoming situation, no matter what it is.
12. Before going to bed each evening, put down your book, step away from your computer, find a place where you can enjoy solitude, and take 10 minutes to be quiet and still.
Kuya Minogue is the resident teacher at Creston’s ZenWords Zen Centre. For more information, she can be reached at 250-428-6500.