I attended a yoga retreat at the Salt Spring Yoga Center this past Summer Solstice Weekend with two of my girlfriends where I heard Patricia Galaczy speak on mindfulness. As part of her presentation, Patricia gave us all raisins to hold between our fingers. My senses were guided to tune into the raisin's crinkly exterior and soft interior. I noticed its size and its surprising depth of color.
We then had to turn the raisin in one of our ears. (I know, the thought of a room full of intelligent people turning a raisin in their ears may make you laugh right now — but you may be surprised if you give it a try.) What I experienced was that this small raisin is a marvel of natureI could sense through the level of noise it could make. We then had to hold the raisin between our lips, and then in our mouth. This little experimental raisin turned into a burst of aroma and taste. I began to realize that this discovery about tuning into all my senses with a raisin is a great way to engage all of life with more passion. I could eat slower and feel more satiated with less. I could walk slower and smell all the roses. I could take more time in all my conversations and connect more meaningfully with others.
Try this raisin experiment on yourself. If you do, you will begin to really appreciate how a practice of enhanced mindfulness can positively impact just about everything you do. When you slow your actions down through the day, most all of life starts to show up as a burst of flavor, just like that raisin. Relationships start to have a "raisin-ance" (resonance) that you can savor. You may discover an easy, vibrant creativity and capacity to love within yourself that you never previously thought possible.
How often do you really feel fully emotionally engaged in your conversations through a typical day? Could you allow yourself more time to be more present? What would you start to do differently? What makes you rush? Do you listen deeply while others speak? What do you notice when you do? "Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom" — Victor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning.
What happens when you slow yourself down so that you can be fully immersed in any one experience? As you are reading my blog right now, try to notice with all of your senses whatever object is in front of you. What do you observe about the way the light engages it? And what just changed in you as you focused on it? How is your breathing right now? What do you notice about your shoulders as you are doing this?
These types of questions will help you be more mindfully engaged. It gives your nervous system a break and allows you to settle into this discrete moment with relative ease.
Here are 5 ways you can start to become more resonant in your life:
- Meditate for 10 minutes every day. Research shows meditators have greater capacity to cope with stress than non-meditators. The practice of meditation actually physiologically lengthens the telomeres in your body. The gain to you is a higher capacity to cope with stress.
- Spend some time in natural spaces. Give your five senses a workout: see, smell, touch, taste, and hear. This is a great way to calm your nervous system down and create a healthy context for difficult conversations.
- Turn off all your electronics for part of your day. Research suggests it negatively impacts the developing brain and your capacity to concentrate. Over use of technology has been shown to increase forgetfulness and irritability, along with impacting to the way you learn new information. Take a look at the links provided in the New York Times.
- Eat your food mindfully with all five senses engaged. When you eat consciously, you will tend to eat less and avoid emotional eating patterns. Enjoy the whole process of creating a meal, sharing a meal, and savoring each bite.
- Notice what you are feeling in your body right now. Breathe consciously and you will lower your blood pressure and increase concentration because more oxygenated blood will be getting to your brain.
So what are some of the ways you practice mindfulness in your life already? I'd love to hear what your secret to greater resonance is. Or put these practices to the test and then let me know how they work for you. Creativity/love/compassion up, stress down!
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