This 28-day challenge focuses on a single part of our bodies, emotion, or aspect of our lives each day. The invitation is to take small bites of mindfulness and sprinkle them with focus on one issue every day for the whole month of February!
The practice of mindfulness
As someone once said:
The most difficult part of being mindful is to remember to be mindful
Here are a few resources that will hopefully inspire you and also remind you of how crucial living in awareness is!
- A couple of great resources for beginners: Mrs Mindfulness' 5 Simple Steps (with free audio guide) and Thich Nhat Hanh's Five Steps to Mindfulness (5 seems to be the number!).
- You can download several excellent breathing and body scan guided meditations from the Free Mindfulness Project. Also this website by Sean Fargo contains a lot of free materials, including audio, videos, worksheets and e-books.
- If you haven't already, check out Andy Puddicombe's short (under 10 minutes!) TED talk on mindfulness. I also recommend Pico Iyer's TED talk on the power of stillness.
- I highly recommend Tara Brach's work on RAIN - you can read one of her articles on it here. And for a guided meditation exercise check it out here.
- Listen to one of the "gurus" of mindfulness Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in this video interview called Mindfulness as a love affair with life.
- This is a clear and concise article on why mindfulness is crucial to overcome repetitive patterns of resistance, especially procrastination. And here's an article on the 7 obstacles to mindfulness.
This is a biggie. One of the most complex areas of self-awareness work we can ever undertake. There are a lot of resources out there, both in the shape of books as well as online resources. I would personally recommend working with a good therapist/coach if you feel there are major issues that you need support with. Often we start emotional work on our own to find that, like an iceberg, most of the “stuff” is underneath and hidden from view. If it gets too overwhelming or you feel you need someone to hold your hand whilst navigating your emotional icebergs, get professional help. It may be your best spent money!!
Emotional work is the basis for any self-discovery transformation and will seep into all other areas of your life: work, relationships, self-love...
- There are some great TED talks on this vast subject - check this one out by Matt Killingsworth on mindfulness and happiness.
- Here is an audio guided exercise to work through thoughts, sensations and emotions (by the way, a good Australian web resource specifically for men!).
- Lastly, I highly recommend Robert Masters' book Emotional Intimacy - it's a brilliant in-depth view at becoming intimate with our own emotions.
Parenting and family relations
As with other areas, mindfulness has become a trendy angle to look at parenting issues. There is deep emotional engagement when awareness is applied to parenting and family relationships. It is often very intense work, because it requires dealing with (as in acknowledging!) vulnerability. But the pay-off can be huge: increased sensitivity, enhanced connection, and a change in deep-seated relational dynamics. Often we are more willing to pull up our sleeves and implement “change” for loved ones, especially young children, than for ourselves.
- Dr. Shefali's work on Conscious Parenting
- An interesting article covering what is mindful parenting and the impacts on our children.
- A great interview with Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn on their well-known book Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting.
Wellbeing and health
Our bodies often bear the brunt of our lack of awareness in life: we make them digest too much food (or the wrong kind, or at the wrong time), we deprive them of sufficient sleep, we make them sit still for too long, we ignore their need for movement and joy. In short, we simply don’t utilise our bodies enough in a kind, mindful way – we are often up there “in the head” and not paying much attention to what our bodies need, or even what they are trying to tell us. Instinct often manifests through the body (remember that “gut feeling”?).
There are as many forms of exercise, and wellbeing practices as there are days in the year (or in a few years!) so I’m going to keep this as generic as possible. Bodies were made to be healthy through movement and eating, so here are a few resources on both topics:
- Information on Somatic Meditation, where the body becomes the fundamental arena of meditation and mindfulness practice.
- A real favourite of mine! Biodanza is an amazing process of integrating body and emotions through dance and connecting mindfully with others.
- Dr Susan Albers website contains a lot of practical tips and information on eating mindfully.
I’ve bunched them up together because it’s essentially the same thing – transcending our personal, individual dimension. Which, as humans, we are able to do. Isn’t that something? You don’t have to believe in anything to transcend yourself. Because, simply put, we can become aware that there is more to us than body and mind.