Among the many New Year's traditions in Japan, one of my favorites is that the first word you write on January 1st is imbued with a special significance. Often written in elaborate calligraphy, it represents your intention to focus on that concept throughout the year, and it's often hung in the home as a reminder. For me, there was no question what my word would be this year: presence.
As both Tatcha and my daughter Alea continue to grow, the days often feel like they are getting away from me. This year I have resolved to be more present in each moment and take the time to find joy around me.
Although meditation has become something of a buzzword in Silicon Valley lately, it has ancient roots in Asia. I remember my grandfather closing his eyes and meditating for a few moments at the beginning and end of the day. As a child, I didn’t understand how he could be so still; now I envy his focus.
Meditation and mindfulness training have been shown to benefit many areas, from creativity and collaboration to greater compassion and well being. For me personally, I have found that it’s the best way to quiet my brain and renew my focus. As I continue to learn new techniques, I will share them here on the blog. I hope you find it helpful, and I would love to hear what works best for you.
To get started, here are some simple ways to begin adding mindfulness practices into your daily routine:
• When I wake up in the morning, instead of jumping out of bed to begin my day, I let my mind linger in that supple zone between sleep and wakefulness.
• Before I begin the day, I like to start with 15-40 minutes of meditation with guided meditations by Jon Kabat-Zinn on my iPhone. I have not yet gotten to the point when I can meditate deeply without a voice to follow yet but I will keep you posted on how my practice evolves.
• My favorite way to meditate is in a patch of sun near the window or on my balcony if the weather allows. The morning bird songs, fresh air and warmth of the sun remind me how much beauty there is that I can forget to notice in the rush.
• Turning off the music while driving to work gives me 1 hour a day to enjoy silence. I pay more attention to my breathing and my body, relaxing my grip on the wheel and releasing tension from my shoulders. As I stopped taking conference calls in my car and listening to music, I started to notice the sun rising and setting. There is something about seeing the day begin and end right before your eyes that brings perspective.
• When I get home at the end of the day, the phone, laptop and iPads are turned off during dinner and bedtime so that we can all be fully present with one another. Hearing my daughter's stories from pre-Kindergarten are better entertainment than anything on television.
Do you have any tips for incorporating mindfulness into your life?