Ordinary + Accessible Spots Where We Can All Take Time to Check-In and Reset
by Kiki Athanas
March 21, 2018
A guest post by Thyme & Presence
When was the last time you purposefully stepped back to take a moment for yourself?
Not taking a break with your phone in hand or sitting down to relax and watch the television. But extending a little time to become aware of the present moment. To nourish yourself so you are more connected with the self and present for those around you.
This is the essence of mindfulness.
In his book, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening, Joseph Goldstein explains that answering the question of, ‘what is mindfulness?’ is difficult. He explains that asking this question “is a bit like asking, ‘what is art?’ or ‘what is love?’” To make it simple, mindfulness is being fully aware in the moment. To be curious. To be present with all the sensations and thoughts (even negative ones) that accompany the moment.
This may sound a bit esoteric but it is quite basic…and the science backs it up!
Stress shoots adrenaline and cortisol through the body and limits the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for rational thinking. On the other hand, mindfulness and mental enrichment allows for neuroplasticity….otherwise known as the growth of new neural connections. Science aside, see how you feel for yourself once you begin!
We have put together 10 Ordinary + Accessible Spots where you can take a little time to check-in and reconnect.
Think about the advice you may give a friend who tells you they ‘never have time’ or they are ‘stressed.’ Mostly likely you would offer them ideas on how to take a break and relax. Extend that same kindness towards yourself and try a few of these ideas this week!
Then….see how you feel!
1. FIND A PARK BENCH
You know…all those seductive photos of empty park benches where you can only imagine sitting and reading your book. Make it happen! Don’t wait until the timing is perfect. It’s rarely perfect.
Set a date with yourself to visit a park bench. And show up! Grab a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy the moment. Feel the elements surrounding you and notice what is happening around you in that moment. Make this time your intimate space to reconnect.
2. YOUR CAR
This one may sound strange. Sitting in traffic is usually a stressful situation. However, a concept from Andy Puddicombe of Headspace is just perfect – ‘remember, we are the traffic.’ It’s not just the person in the car next to you that makes the traffic. We are all trying to be somewhere!
Simply recognize how you feel amongst all the stimuli. Take note of it and realize how you want to contribute to your surroundings. Take a few nourishing breaths. Use this time as an opportunity to slow down and practice mindful connections with yourself and with those around you.
3. A BATH
We all know a bath makes us feel amazing. However, how often do you take the time to draw yourself a bath? To enjoy the ritual of filling the tub with bath salts and lavender oil. To light a candle and prepare a cup of tea?
Make one day of the week ‘bath night’. Having some ‘me time’ planned every week makes us feel lighter and becomes a little gift that we look forward to.
4. USE GOOGLE
Do a Google search for local mindfulness resources. Libraries and community centres offer meditation and breathing classes.
We discovered Mindfulness Walks in our community. They are offered at Torrey Pines State Beach the first Saturday of every month. All electronic devices are prohibited. Not only was this a time to reconnect and feel the earth as we walked but you end up learning a lot about the area you are visiting. This walk in particular focused on learning about indigenous plants and the history of the area.
You will be surprised at all the things you may not know about an area you have visited frequently.
5. WAITING ROOMS OR LINES
It’s rarely fun to stand in line or pass time in a busy waiting room.
We can certainly cram another few minutes of screen time or we can see it as an opportunity to connect with your breath. To be aware of our emotions as we wait. Do anxieties arise? Feelings of impatience?
Observe your emotions from a distance. Refrain from judging your feelings. Recognize your thoughts as just passing and simply take this as an opportunity to enjoy a deep breath.
There is no greater or accessible space to reconnect than nature. It is all around us.
Being in nature doesn’t necessarily mean going deep into the woods. Of course a forest setting is just perfect. However, that space behind your office with a few trees, the pond in the park, a trail in your community, or the river’s edge in an urban setting all serve as a beautiful space to be mindful of nature. To allow yourself time to breathe, wonder about your surroundings and marvel at the life existing alongside of you.
7. YOUR DESK
Your desk at work can become a sacred space. If you just can’t leave an assignment, then put your computer on sleep and push your chair back. Practice a guided meditation on your phone or simply breathe without the use of devices.
Having a little candle at your desk is a great way to set a little daily ritual for yourself. It also sparks creativity! Bring in a few aromatherapy satchels to put in your desk drawer. Inhaling the lavender or eucalyptus oils stimulates senses that we forget about when we are caught up with work.
8. A SPACE IN THE BUILDING
Do you work in a busy office building? Find a little space that you can call your own. Maybe it’s the roof top, a tree on the grounds, an empty conference room or a vacant corner. Taking time to reconnect is so important during the busy work day.
Having a space that you learn to associate with stepping back and being mindful of the present moment makes you more centred and ultimately more productive.
9. A CORNER IN YOUR HOME
Create a corner in your home. Decorate it and arrange it in a way that inspires and defines you. Include a pretty cushion, pillow or your favourite chair.
Maybe a little side table to place a journal or cup of tea. Buy a small succulent or favourite flower.
This is your space to retreat to in order to step back and connect. Once you create this space you will notice that it begins to spark creativity and offer you greater insight into yourself.
10. A DATE WITH YOURSELF
The artist and author, Julia Cameron, refers to dates with yourself as ‘Artists Dates.’ This is a particular time you set aside for yourself each week. Say, a Thursday afternoon. Like a real date, you show up no matter what!
When you call it a ‘date’ it’s easier to show up. Use this 30-60 minutes to discover something new about yourself. Explore a new bookstore, coffee shop, boutique, or museum.
Reconnecting with yourself in a new environment promotes creativity and forms new connections.
We hope some of these ideas inspire you to take a few moments in your day to step back and connect.
"The whole world is an art gallery when you are mindful. There are beautiful things everywhere and they are free"
– Charles Tart