Practicing mindfulness is a powerful way to practice self-care. After all, self-care is about nourishing ourselves. It is about reconnecting to ourselves, about listening and paying attention, and honoring our experience. And that’s exactly what mindfulness helps us do.
In the book Modern Mindfulness: How to Be More Relaxed, Focused, and Kind While Living in a Fast, Digital, Always-On World, Rohan Gunatillake shares a slew of wonderful, practical techniques that we can do on the go. Gunatillake is the founder of Mindfulness Everywhere, a creative studio that combines meditation, technology and design.
Use signs as reminders. Our world is already filled with reminders to practice mindfulness, to pause and connect to ourselves. For instance, you can use stop signs, red lights and bus stops as reminders “to turn inside, re-establish awareness and check in with our senses and our mood,” Gunatillake writes. Plus, “exit signs on motorways or in buildings become invitations to let go of negative thinking. Street names are reminders to drop our attention into our feet.” Gunatillake encourages readers to be playful when interpreting all sorts of signs in our different surroundings.
Focus on RAIN. This is especially helpful when we’re distressed and overwhelmed. Recognize what is happening. Allow it to happen. (In other words, don’t judge it—or yourself. Don’t seek out distractions.) Investigate the experience. What other details can you notice? What other sensations are happening simultaneously? The last part is Not me. As Gunatillake writes, “Are you able to see that by observing the difficulty, it is not a part of you?”
Think narrow. When Gunatillake is having a hard time, he tries to reconnect to his sense of wonder. When our minds are in worry or negativity mode, it’s tough to take on a bigger perspective, which is why using a narrow approach can help.
Gunatillake suggests simply looking at the back of our hand. As he writes, “Look at it in as much detail as you can. The pattern of tiny triangles that make up the skin. How those triangles vary in size across different parts of the hand. Look at how the little hairs are thicker at the point they come out of the skin and then taper to a bit of a point. Notice the variation in the density of hairs.”
Thoughts of self-judgment will likely arise. My hand looks so old. This exercise is silly. I don’t have time for this. That’s when we can notice how different it is to hear these thoughts versus simply paying attention to the details of our hand. Try to reconnect to how extraordinary your hand really is. “In all the turmoil that life brings, it can be hard to remember that we are still full of beauty and mystery,” Gunatillake writes. Which is why it’s important to have various tangible reminders.
Which practices resonate with you? What is your favorite self-care practice?