When I think of ease, I think of inner peace. How do we cultivate a feeling of inner peace when the world around us can feel so busy, chaotic, and uncertain?
I truly believe the answer is mindfulness.
This can feel like an abstract concept – so what does mindfulness mean?
Author, psychotherapist, and Buddhist teacher Sylvia Boorstein defines mindfulness as:
“the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience….It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.”
There are various ways we can tune in to this state of being, and what works for one may not work for another. This allows for different means to achieve the same end. There is a freedom in exploring mindfulness practices and we can learn what works for us through experimentation. For instance, there is a common misconception that yoga and meditation are the only ways we can practice mindfulness. Yet, how many people go to the gym or go for a run to “clear their head.” Maybe you find folding laundry or doing the dishes therapeutic – yes, there are some of you out there! Perhaps you get lost in the creative process of painting or writing. All of these activities can get us into “flow state,” where our focus is narrowed to one thing and we become wrapped up in the flow of an activity. We become so engulfed in the present moment that we may lose track of time and forget about everything outside of what we’re doing in the given moment. If you want a better understanding or example of this, the animated movie “Soul” beautifully encapsulates flow state.
You might ask: “okay – but what about when I’m not engaging in those activities? How do I practice mindfulness outside of those?” I recently learned an approach I’ll share that can support you in doing so. Within Lifestyle Meditation’s “Meditation Teacher Training,” I was introduced to “SODA:” an approach for generating more conscious responses to triggers or needs that are unfulfilled.
“SODA” stands for:
Stop – take a pause
Observe – enter the seat of the witness/observer
Detach – from the thought or belief
Ask – “is this true?” And “how can I choose to respond more consciously?”
Let’s use a relatable example to demonstrate this:
You’re spreading yourself thin between responsibilities at work and at home. Your partner is feeling the same as you are, and the “to do list” is piling up. Before you leave for work, you ask your partner if they would do the dishes and they agree to do so. Yet, at the end of a long day, you come home to see that the dishes are still dirty. Your instinct is to react in anger toward your partner, but you remember you’re trying to be more mindful. You come back to the SODA approach and pause. You become aware of your thoughts and the need that is not being met. You identify the trigger: “I feel unsupported by my partner.” Then you ask yourself: “is this true?” If the answer is “no,” you may decide to respond more consciously by remembering all of the times that they have supported you and recognize that this is an isolated incident. If the answer is “yes,” a mindful response could involve looking back and identifying when you began to feel unsupported in your partnership, and consciously opening up a dialogue about it.
The more we are able to practice mindfulness, the more we’re able to move from reacting to responding. When we are reactionary, we are like leaves in the wind blowing in every direction. In a mindful state, we are the tree that may sway yet is rooted in place.
Our power lies in the present moment.
What can you do right now to practice mindfulness and create a feeling of ease?
My go-to practices are:
- listening to relaxing music
- meditation (silent, guided, or with music)
- a luxurious bubble bath with my favourite essential oils(Check out our custom blends at Wellness on Whyte).
- creating just for fun
- going for a walk in my favourite nature spot
I encourage you to come up with a list of your own and begin making space for your favourite mindfulness practices.
While we are honoured to provide an outer sanctuary for you, you deserve your own inner sanctuary to come home too.