It’s pretty common in this year’s dispiriting climate to be feeling down, stressed, and overall yucky. No matter where your opinions fall in the political or social spectrum, there is some sort of tug-of-war occurring that can be weighing on you.
I’m no exception. This year has been a doozy on many levels. When things get rough, I do my best to remember that there are a wealth of practices available for every one of us to fall back on, giving us that little step-up we need to stay balanced.
When you think of balance, images of a see-saw may come to mind. However, the sort of balance I’m referring to is a triad, which I call alignment. That’s right, there are actually three aspects that need to be aligned for us humans to truly feel like things are going smoothly. These three aspects are the mind, the body, and the spirit.
We all possess a body; you can see it, feel it, and it is what allows you to experience the physical portion of life. We also know that we all have a mind; you may not be able to see it without the help of medical devices, but you know it’s there. Your mind is what processes all those sensational experiences that your body is physically gathering. So what about your spirit? Well, are you thinking thoughts or is your mind making you think them? You are a conscious and self aware being behind those thoughts and that is why you can observe them.
Mindfulness is a term that you may have heard lately, as it’s becoming a rather trendy practice and honestly, I couldn’t be happier about that. It’s one of the many practices that we have available to give us the help we need to feel better and face our challenges with more peace.
To put it simply, mindfulness is the act of becoming aware in the present moment. When you focus intently on micro-actions -- you are practicing mindfulness. An example of this could be that while you are writing an email, you can focus on the sensation of your fingers touching the keys as you press them for each letter.
Practicing mindfulness alone can be a great start to balancing the mind, body, and spirit. Even the simple example from above accomplishes this by incorporating your conscious spirit through controlling your focus, your physical body by feeling the keys, and your mind through interpreting the sensation your body is experiencing, while simultaneously sending signals from your fingertips to your brain.
We often have a tendency to glaze over all of the minute actions that happen as we go about our day, but there is so much that is miraculous about these necessary actions when we take a moment to think about them.
If you can manage to set aside a time and a place to practice mindfulness, I highly recommend getting out into nature. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, this can really reset your whole mood. One of my favorite places to practice mindfulness is at Hightower Beach Park in Satellite Beach. I have a sentimental attachment to this particular beach and it just feels like home to me.
I lay down a towel in the sand, take a seat or lie down, close my eyes, and begin to just observe. I ask myself questions like, “What does the sand feel like beneath my body?” I try to engage my senses by noticing what I’m hearing. The sound of the crashing waves, the birds squawking as they fly by, muffled voices of other beachgoers in the distance. I smell the salt in the air and feel the heat of the sun on my skin. I remind myself to breathe and take a nice big breath of air in through my nose, sending it way down into my belly, hold it for a moment, and then slowly exhale as I bring my awareness back to the day ahead.
If you are like many of us and feeling anxious or stressed, I encourage you to experiment with mindfulness. Take my example from above and try it out for yourself. You can also modify it to something that works for you. You can learn more about mindfulness at https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness
Emilie Petri is a spiritually led transformational coach, RYT 200 yoga instructor, and a lover of adventure and magick. You can contact her through her website at emiliepetri.com