There are many misconceptions about what meditation is and should be. Most think you should be holed up in a cave somewhere “emptying the mind” of all thoughts. But like there are multiple types of yoga, there are many forms of meditation.
Mindfulness is my absolute favorite style. It is the practice of being fully attentive and present in whatever you are doing. For example, if you are composing an email, you are 100% aware of the content and your motivations. Regardless of if Sam Smith is blaring in the background or the dog is nudging at your feet.
Today’s world has become increasingly attention deficit. Everything seems to be shorter and faster, the options more infinite. It is hard to find grounding when everything moves so quickly.
Mindfulness practice acts as an anchor, keeping one connected amidst the movement of life. When grounded and present, one is able to respond to the environment rather than reacting to it. Decisions come from a deeper, intuitive and heart-based place.
Mindfulness also teaches us to be fully in the moment. Most people spend their day half asleep or on autopilot. We fall into routines. We have mastered the ability to be in ten places at once, yet rarely are we in the place we actually are. It may seem like multi-tasking makes you more productive, but many studies show it is in fact less efficient.
Another great thing about this style of meditation is the accessibility of it. The best place to start is simply watching the breath. Observe the differing temperatures of the inhale versus the exhale. Be aware of every vibration and movement. Feel where the breath rises and falls in the body. Try to watch without judgment. Being present means accepting what is. If the mind wanders off, you rein it right back in. Some days will seem like you’re hardly in the moment, but the mere fact you were aware of that is the practice! Set aside five minutes a few times a week to sit with your breath.
At the same time that you have begun your sitting practice, pick one thing you do every day and make that a mindfulness practice, as well. Checking Facebook is a great place to start. Most of us are on the site a few times a day (okay, maybe more!), scrolling through the newsfeed, being unconsciously triggered. Can you make checking Facebook a meditation practice? Notice how many times a day you go on the site. Observe what feelings and thoughts arise for you. If you post, be fully present with what you are putting into the universe.
With mindfulness, everything we do can become a meditation, we just need to pause and pay attention. Modern yogis need not step out of the world to find peace; instead they must step fully in.
Sarah Ezrin, E-RYT-500, is an energetic and humorous yoga teacher, writer, and YogaWorks teacher trainer based in Los Angeles. With a profound love of travel, Sarah runs around the globe leading trainings, workshops and retreats. For Sarah, yoga is not about the tricks or the postures; it is about finding one’s center amidst the challenges and chaos of the world. She believes that life is short and that it should be spent laughing, with the people and animals we love, and doing the things we most enjoy, like yoga! For more information on Sarah please visit her website or connect with her on Facebook.