Gentle Ways toward Living more Consciously
A version of this article appears in Green Is The New Black'a Conscious Living Guide published online in October 2017.
We know that there are a lot of folks out there who are pretty keen on becoming more 'conscious', in regard to how they live and interact with the world around them. The only thing standing in their way is not knowing where to start. We know how daunting 'conscious living' sounds – so, if you're someone on the cusp of living a more 'conscious' existence, we've got your back.
Conscious living starts with first being conscious about what goes on within. Here's a short list of gentle ways you can start with:
Prioritise daily self-care.
At any point in the day, carve out 15-30 minutes of no-distractions-me-time to enjoy the company of, well, you. You don’t have to force yourself to meditate – you can journal, run a scented sea-salt bath, or even just sit by the window (of your home or on a double decker bus) and watch the world go by. There are after all, a million ways to 'pause' and be more 'present' – so, find something that works for you. The critical thing is to revel in your version of self-care. Savour it.
Make it a practice to set intentions for your day ahead. On days where you feel more overwhelmed than usual, it’s perfectly fine to have a single intention for the entire day. It can be anything from, say, aiming to complete a complex work task (here's the pomodoro productivity method – we've heard good things about how it has helped people tackle their work load), visualising an important conversation you hope to have with a loved one or someone significant to you, to articulating a personal goal you have ignored for a long time, e.g. 'I'm not a patient person. So, today, I will practice being more patient.'
Disconnect to connect.
How many times have you caught yourself reading your emails and forgetting to breathe while you were doing so? Without any need for explaining, we all know that holding our breath doesn't do anything useful for us. Start incorporating smart gadgets/apps into your life every day to remind yourself to prioritise yourself while you're at work. Every single small act of 'self-kindness'–like taking deep breaths when you're overwhelmed, drinking water every hour or getting off your seat and walking to the pantry to stretch your legs every 45 minutes–makes a difference. If you’re tired of looking at your smart device, here’s an accessible guide called the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Print it out and pin it next to all the other important reminders you have on your desk.
Breathing is free! No shame in doing more of it.
Make 'mental pauses' a habit.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed or frustrated by how a conversation is going, try to take a quick 'mental pause' to evaluate the best way to respond, instead of reacting too quickly or worse, lashing out at the other party(s). If things have already gotten rather heated, opt to be the more mature individual and suggest a timeout. This will save you from dealing with a negative emotional rollercoaster ride which usually comes later when you replay the conversation in your mind (as most of us tend to do). None of us will benefit from unnecessary bouts of all-consuming anger, disappointment, embarrassment or regret.
Become versed in something new.
This one is for those who appreciate novelty. Dedicate an hour each week to learn something new –that's really just 4 hours a month solely committed to improving yourself. It could be anything from a new language (we heard there are great apps for that), to something intense but fun like beat-boxing. That 'something new' could also encompass learning new ways to slow down, and connect with your inner self – yes, we're going to put in a shameless plug here: you're most welcome to join us at our refreshing, calming and restful PAUSE Signature Session to experience the art of slowing down. We look forward to seeing you there.
Did you find the above-mentioned suggestions useful? Let us know in the comments or feel free to email us any time at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat about your journey towards conscious living (we love receiving mail about readers' experiences–it's one of the ways we pause at work!)
- What is a PAUSE Signature Session? Find out here.
- What is a PAUSE Signature Session like for a first-timer? We interviewed Nora, Rini and Ruth - let them tell you how it went.