The start of a new year is a beautiful time to reflect and be very intentional about creating a life with meaning, purpose and connection. This has been on my mind and in my heart lately, and one of my goals is to create a space through my blog and social media that fosters authenticity, vulnerability and real conversation.
I’ll be doing more sharing like this and would love to hear your thoughts on today’s post. It would be wonderful to connect with each other on a deeper level and share more about our thoughts and personal experiences on things that really matter.
In recent years, my desire to create a legacy that outlives me has also grown stronger. Although I am self-employed, a path I intentionally created to ensure I always have the power and freedom of choice to remain true to myself with the work I do, my desire to leave a legacy is about more than business.
Upon reflection, I’ve realized that for me, leaving a legacy means I want to create a positive impact and somehow add value or enhance another person’s existence. Whether that is big or small, I often think of the saying, “They may forget what you said, they may forget what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel”.
When life gets busy, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and sometimes lose sight of what matters most to you. Last year, I started attending the School of Philosophy, it’s a global organization so whether I was in New York, Los Angeles or Australia, it was easy to attend.
I have always been a really inquisitive person and love learning about everything, particularly when it comes to people and the wonder of the universe. I also recognized that I craved an environment to explore and question these things with other like-minded people. The principal aim of practical philosophy is to allow people to experience the full scope of their nature as intelligent, universal beings, and ultimately to find spiritual and emotional well-being. It’s about examining life and your relationship to the universe.
I quickly learned, a key aspect of practical philosophy is mindfulness. At the beginning and end of each class, the facilitator would lead us in a short meditation and I started to learn how to practice mindfulness.
I’m sure you can relate when I say this, but life just feels like it rushes by so quickly. Days pass in a flash, weeks go flying by at breakneck speed and before we know it, we’re ringing in another new year.
With iPhones now permanently attached to our hands, we’re constantly expected to be connected. It’s almost impossible to switch off from the world and take a moment all to yourself, simply to just be. I must admit, I’ve struggled with this in recent months. However, I’ve been learning more about being in the now, appreciating the little things and truly soaking in those seemingly insignificant moments, that I’m sure years from now we may look back on and yearn for so palpably.
In the multi-tasking world we live in today, practicing mindfulness can be an elusive act. With origins in Buddhism, Yoga and Taoism, mindfulness is all about purposefully paying attention to and fully experiencing the present moment. I’m sure we’ve all driven somewhere and later realized we don’t actually remember the journey we took, or eaten a meal without truly tasting it.
Practicing mindfulness has a number of benefits, the key aspect is the ability to become more connected to not only ourselves, but also the people and the world around us. It’s about paying attention to the present moment, without judgment. This simple practice involves letting the body relax, allowing the mind to settle and connecting with the five senses including smell, taste, sight, feeling and hearing.
Mindfulness can help us understand situations with enhanced clarity, respond to difficult circumstances better and be more resilient in work or home life. Even Google is on board. The company has trained more than one thousand of their employees in mindfulness, recognizing it’s capacity to bring innovation and creativity to the work place, as well as improve wellbeing.
As “connected” as we appear on the surface with social media and technology, there’s nothing that compares to real meaningful, mindful connection with people and the world around us. It’s so easy to become disconnected and live life on auto-pilot. Over the last few weeks, aligned with re-clarifying my intentions for the new year, I’ve tried to become more mindful through simple acts.
Mindful Moments: I love exercising of an evening and delighted in taking time to soak up the sunset in front of our home.
I have started setting my alarm a little earlier each day, so I can spend time to just sit and practice mindfulness and meditation. I’ve found it has helped me connect and remember what’s in my heart, as well as focus on my intentions, purpose and goals. It also provides a sense of calm, clarity and positivity to start the day.
We live right near the water and I enjoy exercising outdoors, so I have also started applying mindfulness during these workouts. It’s incredible how much we look but don’t see. Making the conscious shift to see the world as the wonderous place it is, to actually soak in what’s around me and listen to sounds I normally wouldn’t hear. To truly see the sunset, twinkling city lights or gaze up at the moon. It’s a funny feeling, because I’ve noticed as I soak in these little things, it makes my heart swell a bit and a feeling of gratitude can’t help but wash over you. I’ve also learned the key to happiness is gratitude.
If you’re seeking to connect on a deeper level with your soul, fellow humans and the universe around you, to slow the world for a while and gain clarity, the practice of mindfulness is powerful.
HOW TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
I’ve found a great resource from Mindful Magazine to guide you through how to practice mindfulness and added in some of my own tips. Just follow the steps listed below…
SIX STEPS TO GUIDE YOU:
1. Take a seat. Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
2. Set a time limit. If you’re beginning this practice, it can help to choose a shorter time, such as 5 -10 minutes.
3. Notice your body. You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, you can kneel. Just ensure you are stable and in a position you can comfortably stay for a while. Feel your feet on the ground, the weight of your body in the chair, how your clothes feel against your skin.
4. Feel your breath. Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes out and as it goes in.
5. Listen. Hear the sounds of the room around you, then expand your hearing to soak in sounds outside the room. Continue to extend your hearing into the distance, when you focus on this, it’s incredible how far you can hear and all the little sounds that are currently in the world.
6. Notice when your mind has wandered. It’s perfectly normal for our attention to leave the present, it will leave the sensations of the breath and wander to other places. When you notice this, simply return your attention to the breath, the feelings of your body and the sounds enveloping you. Be kind to your wandering mind, don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of thoughts you find yourself lost in.
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