Think that just because you live in the hustle and bustle of a big city that you can’t practice mindfulness? How can you possibly relax into a peaceful trance while cars are zooming by and you can hear your neighbors arguments from your bedroom? Well you can. And you will.
I’ve lived in a city for about 8 years and practiced mindfulness daily. Ever so slowly falling into a state of complete awareness mixed with total relaxation. How? Mindfulness.
Follow these 5 easy steps and you too can feel at ease and at peace even in a big city.
Step 1. Practice mindfulness as you are and where you are. On a crowded bus or subway? Perfect. No need to even close your eyes- this type of mindfulness is done with your eyes open. The first step is to find something to gaze at- it can be a tall building, the subway seat in front of you, the bus driver, even a subway pole. Just let your gaze drift gently at your point of view.
Step 2. Engage the senses. What do you smell? (I know, it might not be a sea of lavender, but anything will do!) What do you hear? Chattering all around you, the hum of traffic out the window? Dings of the subway? Muffled noises from the subway speaker system? What do you feel? The cold pole in your hand? The buzz of the seats as you’re moving through the tunnels? Maybe you are out walking through a crowded street- do you hear loud sirens? Do you hear people talking? Do you feel the cool air on your skin? Do you smell the nearest hot dog stand? What do you see? A dog walker, a tall building, a restaurant. Anything will do! Just be sure to keep a record of all your senses running through your mind.
Step 3. Breath. You might be so busy that you forget to breath. That’s ok! But while we are practicing mindfulness- let’s bring the breath into awareness too. As you focus on your gaze, breath deeply- in through your nose and out through your mouth. Make sure you feel your stomach grow with each breath in, and contract with each breath out. (Imagine a balloon growing and contracting with each breath if you need a visual reminder). This type of belly breathing is perfect for your mindfulness moments.
Step 4. Leave the judgements at home. If your mind wanders, that’s ok! You can just say to yourself, “my mind went for a walk, I think I’ll go back home now” and bring your mind back to the mindfulness moment. Re-engaging the senses can be a very helpful tool.
The next time you find yourself on a busy street, crowded bus or subway, I hope you remember you can practice your mindfulness in the moment! You can feel at peace, even in your city life.