August 14, 2017

What do you think of when you’re asked what mindfulness looks like? Do you picture someone standing at a party, eyes wide open, scanning the room slowly, taking in every detail of what people are wearing, their conversations, and where the chips are placed on the table? Or maybe you imagine yourself in a flowing summer dress, frolicking through a meadow of beautiful flowers, mountain air and sunshine. That doesn’t soundquite right, does it? Well, mindfulness doesn’t have to be this extravagant, extreme practice where you take off running into a meadow because you feel super liberated. Mindfulness can be paying full attention when separating your coloured laundry from your whites, or acknowledging that you only have 15 minutes before you need to leave for work. It’s not really as sexy as it’s made out to be. But you’ll feel like a total queen if you practice mindfulness often (regularly) enough.


One really beneficial way to practice mindfulness is through breathwork, orpranayama. Pranayama can be it’s own practice, or incorporated into meditation or physical practice. If you’ve ever had a yoga teacher tell you to tap into youroujai breath while moving through a warrior sequence then you’ve practicedpranayama.


We’re going to keep things relatively simple here, and focus on an inhale-and-exhale breath pattern. The following mantras, while seemingly basic, will help you find some stillness, peace, and mindfulness that you can use throughout your day.


Basic breath

Inhale through your nose for a count of four, and exhale through your nose for a count of four. You can count out the beats as so: Inhale...two...three...four. Exhale...two...three...four. And repeat for at least 10 breath cycles. This technique will help you find your breathing rhythm and also bring you into the present moment.


OM

The universal vibration comes in the sounds ofOm, which you have likely heard or chanted if you’re a regular yogi. It is a simple, yet powerful mantra that can be presented verbally or silently in your head. (However, if you practice it in your head, you won’t get the energetic benefits from feeling the vibration). To practice, take a deep inhale through the nose to begin, then begin toOm as your exhale slowly through the mouth.


Chakra Meditation

This chakra meditation requires some more chanting, but you can always repeat quietly or in your head if that is more comfortable for you. (Again, you won’t get the same energetic benefits if you do this silently). This exercise begins at the root chakra and makes its way to the crown chakra at the top of your head. This meditation is intended to invigorate your chakra energies. For each chakra, take a cycle of breath to cleanse. Inhale deeply then repeat the chakra sound three times and exhale the rest of the air from your lungs. Repeat this three times. Sit in stillness for a moment to let your energy settle. Then repeat the next chakra.


Root:Lam

Sacral:Vam

Solar Plexus:Ram

Heart:Yam

Throat:Ham

Third Eye:Om

Crown:Silence


I Feel Happy

This mantra cultivates happiness and pure joy when you practice it. It comes from the Buddhist tradition and helps you to see the happiness you already have in your life. Take a cleansing breath, then begin.


Breathing in, I feel happy.

Breathing out, I feel happy.


Another option for this mantra is:


Breathing in, I feel joy.

Breathing out, I feel joy.


Do at least ten full rounds, or more if you like. By the end, you’re sure be feeling incredibly happy. **


If you found these exercises helpful, share them with a loved one, colleague or friend. It’s always a little more magical when you have a companion to run through the open meadow with.


**This mantra came from Tich Nhat Hanh’s bookNo Mud, No Lotus (Parallax Press, 2014).


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