These days, “mindfulness” can seem like just a buzzword. But it’s actually an ancient practice meant to keep yourself grounded, present, and in control of your emotions. Something we probably all need more of coming out of stressful and isolating pandemic. Here are three mindfulness tips from local Birmingham yogis and meditation leaders on how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.
1. Use all your senses while you eat
“Take a moment before consuming your meals to take it in through your senses,” says Pennie Nichols, a licensed CRNA, and founder of Enlightened Living, a yoga and meditation studio in Birmingham.
“Begin by deepening your breath, allowing the belly to softly expand on the inhale. This activates the part of our nervous system in charge of digesting our food preparing our body to receive the food.”
For guidance, take these steps and ask yourself these questions during your next meal:
- Sight: Before starting, pause to take in what your food looks like. Fresh fruits and vegetables will always be more vibrant in color than processed foods. Notice the colors and textures of your food.
- Smell: What does it smell like?
- Taste: Take a bite. Chew slowly allowing your brain to process what your food tastes like.
- Touch: Feel the different textures of the food you are eating. Is your food hot? Cold? Juicy? Dry?
- Sound: Some foods offer crisp sounds as we bite into them. Notice what you hear as you eat.
For more mindfulness tips and information on yoga and meditation events, follow Pennie on Facebook. Her podcast, VedaTalks, launches June 17, 2021.
2. Practice mindful breathing
You’ll find that most mindfulness practices are tied to our breath in some way or another. According to the Cahaba River Sangha, a Birmingham meditation community that meets regularly over Zoom.
“Our breathing is a stable solid ground that we can take refuge in…Whenever we feel carried away, or sunken in a deep emotion, or scattered in worries and projects, we return to our breathing to collect and anchor our mind.”
They suggest reciting a mantra while breathing, to focus yourself through a grounded truth such as:
“I know that I am breathing in.”
“I know that I am breathing out.”
3. Put down your phone
“I’m trying to be more aware of my surroundings by putting my phone down,” says Ally Edwards, a physical therapist with EW Motion Therapy and licensed yoga teacher.
“That seems like an obvious one, but while standing in line at the grocery, sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, or waiting on your food at a restaurant—instead of looking at your phone, look around. Notice the colors, the people, the smells, the sounds. It’s amazing what you’ll notice when you do that and you’ll notice how many others are on their phone.”