February's focus on Mindfulness brought so many amazing #womendoingcoolstuff to The Hivery stage. Check out our Facebook Album from Sharon Salzberg's evening on Equanimity: The Balance Born of Wisdom with Sharon Salzberg and join The Hivery movement on Instagram @TheHivery.
Keeping with the spirit of mindfulness for a few more days in February, we polled our own members on what they do to stay mindful. Check out these responses and please add your two cents below on how you stay centered throughout your day, week, month. We love hearing and learning from you!
I meditate daily for 10-20 minutes and also consider playing tennis a mindfulness practice. I play for fun as well as compete in USTA, usually playing about an hour and a half at a time, around four days per week. The meditative part of tennis is that my mind just has to be with the ball that is coming to me. It can be easy to get distracted planning for future shots, and/or judging current or past shots, or the score, or what the other person is saying, etc. Meditation has helped me worry less about what others are thinking as they watch me play, or thinking about their responses if I win or lose the match.
As a high-energy person, I have to work extra hard to slow myself down and stay mindful. For me, it's all about time. It's about shaping my calendar before the start of each week and before the start of each day to ensure I have enough time to be present in what I'm doing. Being mindful means deleting all social media apps off my phone. My mind is too fractured if there are notifications tapping me on the shoulder all the time. At work, I try to take breaks every 15 minutes to stretch and move. I also try to be mindful when I eat and think about how I’m eating. I try not to eat at my desk, while I’m working or watching TV. My goal is to sit down at the dining room table and eat without electronics. And finally, exercise creates the space and calm for me to be mindful. As I've gotten older, the forms of exercises themselves have become more spiritual and less frenetic and body image driven. Being mindful is hard, but I'm a healthier, happier person for it.
My mindfulness practice is my morning writing practice. I write three pages, front and back, in a journal. I don’t revise them or reread them. In fact, after they are written, I never refer to these words again. Their sole purpose is to flow from brain to page without being judged or evaluated. It’s so freeing to have this one corner of my writing that is not open to revision. Sometimes the thoughts are unformed. Sometimes the words are misspelled or the sentences are incomplete. But that’s fine. The point isn’t to create great writing or even to chew on the buds of great ideas. The point is to spend the time it takes to write three pages, front and back, without checking the time or my email. Without even checking to see if I like what I’ve written so far. To stay in the present moment, word by word.
I discovered Amy Cuddy’s book Presence in 2012, at a time when I was making large monetary asks to high finance types (read: rich white men) as part of my job. The book really resonated with me and since then, whenever I’m in a stressful situation, I will practice a “power pose” by putting both hands on my hips like a super hero and saying, “You got this!” It’s really helped.
I work as a psychotherapist and mindfulness coach, and one of my favorite practices for myself and my clients is setting an alarm 15 minutes before needing to get up, and doing a short meditation and intention setting exercise. I find that this allows us to step out of bed fully awake. I also recommend creating “to-be” lists rather than just “to-do” lists. Writing down five daily gratitudes at the end of the day also helps with mindfulness as we start to see what we are grateful for everywhere. Lastly, I try to notice if I feel triggered, and do a short breathing exercise.
When I first wake up in the morning, while still in bed, I pray to my higher power (changes all the time but always nature— from Mt. Tam to the beach to the sky to the sunshine.) I thank my higher power and then I ask for “help.” Just generic help. Then I pray for the people that I’m thinking about at that time. Often I will set my intention before I get out of bed. When I get up, a friend and I will text each other what we’re grateful for. The list can be as simple as a good night’s sleep or that I have a roof over my head. Other times it’s a laundry list of things. I like to read Martha Beck’s thought-provoking quote of the day in my email inbox. During the day, I’ve been practicing being present, turning off my cell phone so I don’t miss serendipitous opportunities, and making conscious efforts to listen and pay attention to others and to my own feelings. At the end of the day, there’s a short "End of Day" meditation I love by Deepak Chopra, where you observe your day and then let it go.
I try to expose myself to people, places and experiences that encourage and invite mindfulness. That can be going to events at The Hivery (Wellness Wednesdays, Discovery Circles, Hivery Circles, Member Spotlights), reading books, signing up for email newsletters that talk about mindfulness, going to therapy, etc. My daily mindfulness ritual begins at 5:30 am: I make a cup of tea and then relax in a large comfy chair with my dog. Then I do something that's just for me and geared towards mindfulness. These days I knit and listen to a few of my favorite podcasts, usually Super Soul Conversations and Good Life Project, or an audio book. I just finished Michael Singer's The Untethered Soul and now I'm listening to Gabrielle Bernstein's Judgment Detox. Other days, usually when life is feeling really tough, I'll do a guided meditation instead. My favorite is Oprah & Deepak's guided meditations. And lastly, my 2-year-old daughter has been a great catalyst for mindfulness. As a teacher to her, I'm always pointing out the beauty around us: a sunset, a pretty flower, the bird chirping, how the leaves feel between your fingers. And now she's pointing those things out to me. It makes us both present and grateful.
I practice Transcendental Meditation. I watched a friend transform as she learned and so I took the classes myself. It has been a few years now and continues to be an integral part of my day. It helps me lay a solid foundation for stable and tranquil mentality.
I really like meditating with the Insight Timer or Headspace apps and recently discovered What's Good: Daily Gratitude, an app by Wesley Moore. The interface is easy to use, and the prompts and reminders that support a gratitude habit are excellent. In the past I’ve used a handwritten journal (The Five-Minute Journal), which requires only five minutes daily to fill in, first thing in the morning and right before bed. In addition, two of the most important practices off and on over decades have been Tai Chi and the Buddhist Lovingkindness meditation. Tai chi builds strength and balance as it clears the mental dance floor. And the Lovingkindness meditation feels almost effortless because the focus is not a mantra, nor is it the breath. It’s on expanding one’s feelings of generosity and compassion first to those close to us and then to our extended families and friends, and then to others everywhere, even to our enemies.