“Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
– Jon Kabat-Zinn
You may define mindfulness simply as: paying attention to what is happening now.
A few key principles include concentration, mindfulness of the body and senses, equanimity, and heartfulness.
- Mindfulness helps us develop our ability to sustain focused attention and concentrate for a period of time. We learn to cultivate present moment awareness as we go through our daily activities.
Mindfulness of the Body
- Mindfulness brings attention to our sensory world experience and emotional body.
- What is our experience of our sense world?
- How can we bring attention to any of the sense experiences: sight, touch, taste, hear, and smell?
- How do emotions manifest in our body?
- What is the physical experience that makes us identify emotion is our bodies?
- Mindfulness is noticing the energetic pathways and flows of our bodies. For example, the sensation of breathing.
- Equanimity is the ability to remain composed and calm with our current experience.
- Emotions and experiences will inevitably happen in our daily life. Cultivating equanimity helps us to be with whatever is happening without over- identifying with the situation or emotion.
- For example, in any given experience we may find ourselves grasping to hold on or attempting to push something away. Cultivating equanimity helps us find the balance to navigate the present moment experience so that we can remain calm without over reacting or suppressing emotions.
- Heartfulness is anything that inspires and resonates with our heartfelt sense of like compassion, generosity, gratitude, sending loving thoughts to someone.
- Mindfulness and heartfulness work together with each other to create a space where we can be with ourselves and others in a non-judgmental way.
- They both work together to hold the space and plant the seed for clarity, connection, and love to manifest.
- By integrating the heart and the mind, we can remember that we are all in this world together. We are all connected. Mindfulness and heartfulness in daily living helps us to listen and nurture the present.
- It teaches us not so much as to place a higher value on the calm experience, but rather to be with whatever is present for us with clarity without judgement.
All of these skills develop over time. The idea is to bring mindful awareness to all aspects of our life. You may start by being aware of simple activities like brushing your teeth or eating an apple. Overtime you will develop a deeper sense of self-awareness by noticing what your triggers are and the ability to have more control over your impulses. You will begin to become aware of that moment or trigger that causes you to act on impulses.
Easy Mindfulness Practice:
Find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and count your breaths.
I’m sure you all have seen this mudra (hand gesture) in multiple pictures of people meditating. Some of you may ask: what does this symbol mean and why try it?
A mudra can mean a gesture, attitude, seal or lock. They are used as circuits to redirect prana (life force) and lead the individual to higher consciousness.
Chin Mudra (Jnana Mudra), pictured above, is representative of uniting the individual with cosmic consciousness. Practice this mudra during your meditation practice to align yourself with your divine purpose.
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Vegan Lip Color:
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We all know how good it feels when we are in the flow of creative pursuits. It feels euphoric and takes us to a place closest to our spiritual source. Time and space do not exist.
However, what happens when stress comes up in our life?
Many of the creative people I coach experience blocks in creativity when personal stress comes up in their lives.
For myself, I have experienced family tragedies that have come up while I was working on a project or performing in a show. At the time, these experiences made it very difficult for me to see the relevance or meaning in continuing to be a performer.
Based on these experiences, I can empathize with artists that struggle to be creative during times of great stress, grief or loss in their personal life.
Life is constantly moving forward and there will always be personal issues that come up that can alter creative projects or performances. Eventually, no matter how difficult this is, one must decide for themselves if their creativity matters enough to put the effort in and keep moving forward.
So, how do we stay connected to the spirit of creativity and navigate our lives?
To help, I came up with this exercise. I am using the acronym ACTIVATE.
- A- Awareness and Attention
Firstly, all artists need to come to the awareness that they need to do the work for themselves. I know this sounds like tough love. I also believe whether you have support or not, no one is going to care more about your project than you will. Once you accept this reality, you must train your mind to give your art the attention it deserves. Remember, being in the flow of creativity is connection to your spirit and a way to share your love with the world.
- C- Calm down and Communicate
I know it is difficult to create during stressful times so learning to channel the stress and calm down is essential. I recommend physical exercise to get the energy moving out of the body for a few minutes or longer if you have the time. Once you have moved the energy sit down, close your eyes, take some full, deep breaths and live in the present moment. Now that you are calm, communicate through your chosen art form (monologue, song, dance, writing, sculpture).
- T- Time
Schedule time daily for your creative habit and commit to it. Write it into your schedule and show up and do the work.
- I- Invigorating Improvisation
Whenever I have felt stuck on a character or blocked when writing a song lyric I improvise. Improvisation can help you loosen up and break out of old patterns. Improvisation can be highly invigorating because you can discover things that you did not think of due to over analyzing a script or struggling to come up with the right lyric. Improvisation also means a willingness to write without judgement and exploring out of the box acting choices.
- V- Visualize and Visibility
Visualizing the career you desire, the creative project you want to complete, and the necessary steps needed to get there can help clarify your goals. Once you can see and believe that you can do the things you visualize yourself doing, making your work visible is the next step. The decision to Be Visible and share your work with the world is powerful.
- A- Action
Take action steps daily to accomplish your creative project.
- T- Truth
Be true to yourself and your art and courageously get down to the raw naked truth.
- E- Everyday
Do your creative work everyday.
- It is ideal to practice in a clean, clutter-free and quiet room. It also helps to have the room dimly lit.
- Sit in a comfortable seated position with your spine held erect. If you choose to sit on the floor using a cushion or pillow will add comfort. You may also sit in a chair. The key point is comfort so that you feel good in your body.
- Breathing through the nose at a rate that is calm is essential during meditation. If nose breathing is challenging, simply breathe slowly and consciously to help relax the body.
- Choose a specific time and duration for your practice. If possible, try to meditate at the same time each day to build consistency. Start with shorter durations, 5-10 minutes, and gradually increase your time spent during each sitting.
- Live in present moment awareness. During meditation, it is common for people to experience a myriad of thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. Include these things in your practice without trying to suppress or engage them. Let them come and go.
- It is also common for people to drift off into sleep. If you find yourself drifting off, bring your awareness back to your body, your breath, and your sitting posture.
- Lastly, some students may find it helpful to incorporate a focusing tool. Here are a few suggestions:
- A simple technique would be to follow the rhythm of your breath, focusing on the inhalation and exhalation.
- You may try silently repeating a short, positive affirmation, prayer, or mantra.
- Focus on a specific area of your body, Chakra or Marma Point.
- You may also try listening to soft, soothing background music that aids in relaxation and can also help you focus. Listen and focus on the vibration of the music and how it resonates in your body. Feel how your breath and the vibration of the music flow and intersect throughout your body.
It is most important that you find a technique that adds grace and ease to your meditation practice. Explore different techniques and remember there is no right or wrong. Each individual will have a unique experience. Each meditation practice offers an opportunity to explore ourselves without expectations, to quietly witness the subtle dimensions of our inner self, and to be open to what is present.
Here is a link to my guided meditation CD; Illumine , for you to practice at home.