Mindfulness practice is the act of focusing your thoughts and energy into being aware of and accepting the present. Often it is done in tandem with meditative breathing exercises, using the movement of breath in the body to train your focus and intention.
Many of you have heard of mindfulness, and a handful practice daily, but for the rest of us—why and how do we incorporate mindfulness into our lives?
As a person with anxiety, I find mindfulness practice to be grounding. After a while, the natural path your mind takes will begin to mimic your practice: you may find it easier to exist in the moment and accept the current state of things in and out of your body, which means less time spent dwelling on the unchangeable past or drowning in anxiety for the future.
This is the ideal, but in reality, where I like to live, it feels like there isn’t an extra minute in the day to just be still. Inconvenience aside, mindfulness meditation is difficult. Concentrating your mind on your breath alone takes a great deal of focus, and it takes frequent practice to be able to hold that focus for an extended period.
It becomes necessary to find other ways to practice mindfulness. I stretch on my lunch break to work out the stiffness in my muscles, and with each stretch, I try to turn my entire consciousness towards the feeling my muscles lengthening, releasing, and becoming limber. Simply being aware of my body in the present moment. When I am washing lentils for dinner, I let them run through my fingers, noting the shade and the slip, picking out the bad pieces. While cutting the vegetables, I feel the smooth skin in my hand, the crisp and watery texture, the ripeness, the give of the flesh as the knife slices through. My mind does wander, but when I notice, I bring my thoughts back to the present and try again. It is part of the process. Be gentle with yourself.
Over the last few months, I have been attempting to practice mindfulness in regards to purchasing and wearing jewelry. In my teens, I had a dragon’s hoard of cheap costume jewelry. This might have been fine, except that none were bought with any sort of intention, other than the squawk of my crow-brain at the sight of something shiny. Mindless purchasing led to a box full of jewelry that I felt lukewarm about, half of which I never wore more than once—a waste of my money, resources, and time.
The other half belonged to a part of my day that I resented. Pushing myself through the mind-fog of early morning, I went through the motions of putting on pieces. I would make myself presentable, and that was good enough, considering I was tired and running late. But I never felt particularly comfortable or happy with the image I put out. Jewelry has a purpose to serve, and because I bought and wore things without intention, that purpose was going unfulfilled.
When I went away to college, I gave away most of my jewelry. I kept an amber necklace my mother gave me, a hematite bracelet from a childhood friend, things of sentimental value that I keep stored away. With a clean slate, I began choosing my jewelry slowly and mindfully. Before making any purchases, I asked myself questions. In your own practice, you must decide what is important to you. Personally, I questioned how each piece was manufactured, if it would hold its value and appearance over time, if it filled a niche in my existing wardrobe, and most importantly, whether it was an impulsive desire or if I would continue to be excited to wear it.
This type of conscious decision making has made my life less complicated. With only a few carefully selected pieces to choose from, I no longer sift through a pile of jewelry I don’t really want to wear, and I’m actually excited to put myself together in the morning.
Lately I have been wearing my magic SATOR square pendant most often. It’s a unique piece that brings to mind a history full of secrets, unknown magical properties and charms. That speaks to me, so in my mind, that gives it value. I’ll run my thumb along the back of the pendant, feeling the texture and irregularity, and focus my awareness on the weight of it around my neck. Taking a moment in front of the mirror, I note how the silver changes the way my skin looks compared to the gold I usually wear. Even my crow-brain is satisfied.
I step out of my closet feeling clear-headed, having avoided unnecessary decision fatigue. Focusing my intentions in those seemingly inconsequential daily choices has made me a more mindful person, which leaves me feeling a little more grounded, a little less anxious, a little more like the confident, poised, and thriving woman I aspire to be.