Between work, life-min and all those weddings you absolutely must remember and be present at the celebration of, getting from one week to the next can start to feel pretty intense around about now. So we've been confabbing with meditative master and founder of Barefoot Yoga, Faye Fenton. Here are her top five ways to feel better and more present. *Warning — no heavy machinery should be operated during the reading of this week's issue.*
Keep a gratitude diary
When you wake up, reach for a notebook rather than your phone, and write down three things you feel grateful for. However tiny, there's always something: it could simply be your warm bed. The things we tell ourselves and notice in this waking up period set the tone for the day, so make it positive. And before you turn your light off at night, make a list of three awesome things that happened today. Stop and luxuriate in those contented 'now' feelings. No need to grasp for the next thing — tomorrow is tomorrow.
Five Senses Withdrawal
Observe and then withdraw each of your senses in turn. Take in all the sights near and far, sharp and blurry. Notice the contrasts, then close your eyes. What do you smell? Subtle or strong? How does your skin feel? Is a breeze making those little hairs stand on end? What can you sense with your tongue? Finally, what sounds can you hear? Start close up and work outwards until you reach the tiniest, furthest sound. A lawnmower? The hum of traffic? Once you're there let go of all other sounds and all other senses and just tune into that single sound.
Seed Thought Contemplation
Go inwards and contemplate... literally anything. It could be the difference between a circle and a square, or asking 'what is meditation?' It doesn't matter what the question or issue is. The single point of focus chills you out and you emerge wiser. Tracing this method back to the second century BC, Patanjali (some say he was a collective rather than an individual) called this the 'Rain cloud of knowable things' — a rather lovely way of looking at a question.
Take an internal selfie
When did you last really notice how your mental and emotional states are manifesting in your physical body? Perhaps you have tension in your neck or shoulders? Or maybe you have fidgety fingers or legs? Perhaps your emotions manifest in your gut? What triggers these physical feelings? Work towards stopping unwanted, no longer useful patterns of behaviour that are running on auto-pilot without permission from YOU. Then you can start to correct and redirect your energy.
Get on a yoga mat
Choose hot and sweaty, or gentle and relaxing, according to the day you've had. Whatever class you go for, you're working towards a mind and body workout that stops you from re-running those emails or "to-do" lists in your head. Challenging postures, flowing sequencing, remembering your right from your left, instructors constantly telling you to actually breathe — you won't have time to focus on anything other than the here and now. Get ready to smile at strangers, and, if it's an evening class sleep ever so well.