Mindfulness Practices for Urban Dwellers
If you are an urban dweller, you can probably relate to the chaos that comes with city living. We are constantly surrounded by all kinds of distractions coming at us from every direction and assaulting all our senses. How do we get calm in the midst of the bright lights and incessant sounds of the city, so we don’t get swept away in a sea of distractions? Having a daily, formal mindful meditation practice enables us to focus, so we can become grounded and act intentionally. However, we can do even better by taking our practice off the cushion into our everyday experiences. Instead of just sitting and meditating for 5-10 minutes a day, we can also find moments to be mindful throughout the day by actually paying attention to the objects around us.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Feel the water kiss your face during your morning shower, as you wash away the activities of yesterday.
Get out the kinks caused by your stiff mattress with some mindful stretching. Breathe in as you expand your body, breathe out as you contract.
Take time to sit and prepare a healthy breakfast.
Whether it’s at home or in your office cubicle, take a moment to reflect with gratitude on all it took to get your food to your belly.
Take the time to see, feel, smell, touch and taste your bounty.
Walking down the same street can seem like the same experience every day, but every time is actually a completely new experience.
Really pay attention to all the sensations in your body and everything around you. Challenge yourself to notice something new.
Focus your attention on your footsteps as you rush along to compete with the morning crowds.
Or instead, place your attention on the sounds of emergency vehicle sirens, car horns and endless tidal waves of verbal chatter.
Take a moment to stop and smell the delicious aromas coming from the food cart vendors, or the whiff coming from your cup of joe or matcha latte du jour.
When you’re waiting for the subway to come, instead of reaching for your phone or pacing anxiously across the platform, feel your feet firmly planted on the ground and do a quick body scan, noticing how you feel in your body.
When you arrive at the office, take a breath as you reach for the door knob and perhaps try to develop a sense of appreciation, knowing that your growing peace and calm will benefit all those you interact with.
In your work meetings and/or conversations with friends and colleagues, actually listen to what people are saying, without thinking of what to say next.
Single-task. (Studies repeatedly show you’ll actually be more productive and make fewer mistakes than when you’re multi-tasking.)
When you’re waiting in line to buy your lunch salad or green smoothie, rather than continuously checking your watch, bring your attention to the natural sensation of your breath to take your mind out of any stress from the morning or anxieties about the afternoon.
After work, prioritize some self-care activities on your to-do list.
Take a short walk in the park, move your body, put on music and dance like no one is watching, work on a creative project and/or take a hot bath.
As you lie in bed to close out the night, take a moment to reflect with gratitude on some of the wonderful things you experienced during the day, feel the cozy wool blanket swallowing you up and then allow the rising and falling of your hands against your stomach, lull you into a deep slumber.