mindful meditation tips

3 mindful meditation tips

Three ways to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your life from Carolyn Mara, an artist who finds it hard to find the time to sit silently

I absolutely love the idea of sitting silently in a dark room while listening to my breath and focusing my mind on absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, I’ve always found it hard to make the time to actually devote myself to a daily meditation practice. It wasn’t until I had three children, a growing art career, and a long list of obligations and commitments that I realised I needed to slow down and relax my body, as well as my mind.

So I set out to start a mindfulness practice to change my mental state. But I eventually became so obsessed with not missing a day that I lost sight of my original goal. I followed my practice day in and day out, but it didn’t help me as much as I had hoped it would because I was so consumed with relaxing my body and mind that I forgot to…you know, relax.

That’s when I looked for a different way to calm myself and learned about the concept of mindfulness. I began to incorporate living mindfully and it helped me find a way to bring the benefits of meditation into my life by allowing me to use my art creation as a form of daily meditation.

I’ve always loved creating art and following three main principles of mindfulness while doing my paintings and performance art helped me achieve a more balanced life. And, if you follow these three principles, they can help you too.

mindful meditation tips

1. Focusing your mind on one specific task can create moments of meditation.
I’d heard that focusing your mind on a single task could help create moments of meditation in your daily life. But I didn’t really understand that concept until I began actively practicing it throughout my day.

I began with my morning showers, focusing on each task and making it an exercise in being mindful. Then I tried it on outdoor walks, and eventually brought the idea into my art studio when I was creating. It’s amazing how much my creative expression has changed over the years as I’ve added silence and intention into my artwork. From start to finish I like to focus completely on the task at hand. When I’m mixing my paints, my attention is completely on how much blue or black I’m adding rather than what I need to cook for dinner.

I’ve found that this type of intentional focus has brought little moments of meditation into my otherwise busy life. And it has allowed me to see many of the benefits that proponents of meditation claim. It has become easier to focus on tasks and I’ve tried to implement this in every facet of my life. I try to set daily intentions to pull back from the noise that surrounds me and move through my life intentionally, completely present.

2. If you find your mind wandering, then stop trying to focus on what you are doing and move your attention to everything happening in the present moment.
On the days I find I really can’t focus my attention I like to shift focus from being present in the moment to being present in my surroundings. I will pay attention to sounds around me as I create my art for example. My studio is just an empty concrete room and it echoes sounds in an amazing way. So I might listen to the crunch of the canvas as I’m rolling it out. Or I will focus on the sound of my brush dipping in the water. You can find ways to incorporate this into your routine. Think about autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)-like sounds and how you can find these soothing tones in your daily life. Meditation is about being present and focusing on the sounds happening in the present can bring you there and allow you to focus your mind without needing to sit still.

3. Create reminders or rituals in your daily practices that get you to stop and breathe.
The biggest thing I’ve found helpful when trying to incorporate mindfulness into my life is to create these mini reminders or rituals in my daily life. Before I dip my brush or mop into my paint I like to take a big, deep breath.

I like to get everything ready beforehand, but I know that before I start, I’ll breathe in deep and bring myself to the now. This has become a part of training; my body to relax itself as I go about creating my art, and it prepares me for the meditative process I’ve outlined above.

For you, this might mean that maybe every time you walk through the doors of your yoga studio or the doors to your home, you’ll take a breath and train yourself to be present in the moment. Creating triggers or rituals that help remind you to breathe throughout your daily practices can help ground you and be more mindful.

I know you can do it!

After adding each of these steps to my life over the last few years, I’ve learned to slow down my thoughts and relax my mind. When I create art, I do so from a place that is unencumbered by my life outside of my studio. You may not be an artist, but I know there are creative pursuits in your daily life where you can incorporate these lessons to achieve a more balanced and happy life. You might not be able to sit still and observe your breath, but I know you can find a way to add my mindfulness tips into your daily life.

Carolyn Mara is an award-winning artist, writer, and mother of three who specialises in helping others find their inner creativity. Visit: carolynmara.com

mindful meditation tips

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