Mindfulness Hacks

Mindfulness Hacks may sound like an oxymoron, but it is possible to set yourself up to ease into mindfulness in the midst of craziness. 

Despite the Buddhist Philosophies of non-attachment to attain happiness, as a Yogi, I can be attached to Yoga – that is the modern day asana, physical, practice.  I use it as my “me” time, my time to “sweat it out,” my source of relief when I am having a bad day, etc.  For me, this works, but recently I did not have the time to go to a studio to practice.  Work was all encompassing and stressful.  I was not getting along with the employees at the office and I needed to develop some tools that would, to say the least, keep me sane.

We often forget, or we don’t know, that there are 8 limbs to Yoga and that asana is just 1/8 of those limbs.  When you live in a city that never sleeps, the other limbs seem futile or difficult to practice, but they do not require a lot of time and truly make a big difference in your daily life. Here are a couple of yogic tools I found helpful to cultivate mindfulness in my not-so-yogic work environment.

Hack 1: Listen to your Affirmations

I found about 10 affirmations that I needed to hear, wrote them down and then recorded it on my iPhone.  I listened to these affirmations on my walks, on the subway, even while in the office.  Your brain has about 90,000 thoughts per day and if you start changing your thoughts by listening to yourself tell yourself whatever you need to hear then it does work.  Your thoughts slowly change from negative ones, stuck in the past or anxious about the future, to positive uplifting thoughts. A great place to start is with "I am ____". What are three qualities you're working to cultivate? Patience? Grace?  Enough? Strength? Confidence? Love? 

Hack 2: Meditation App

I always found sitting still to be hard.  I never liked being alone or "doing nothing". But, I created an area in my apartment where I sit on a comfy block, nice and tall, close my eyes and listen to the guided meditations I found.  An easy app to start with is Insight Timer.  They have guided meditations on there from all over the world.  You can browse the type of meditation, look at reviews, and even do a short one if that is what you are in the mood for. I found a 10 minute morning meditation with music by Jonathan Lehmann and it brought a smile to my face for at least 3 hours.  I went into work feeling like nothing could ruin my day and that lasted for awhile!  

Hack 3: Simply being healthier: Sleep more, eat healthier

During times of stress and when I don’t have time to do asana I tend to sleep less and eat whatever is around me – usually a quick pizza or bagel.  But, this time, I made sure to get my sleep in and not eat terrible food.  There are plenty of places to pick up a quick juice, fruit, salads all over New York. You just need to make the conscious decision.  Nourishing food will give you the energy you need to sustain yourself throughout your days and make you feel better about yourself too!  

These three tools truly helped and got me through a very stressful time. It took me a long time, with trial and error, to cultivate these habits. I can't tell you how long I procrastinated meditation, but now I’m hoping I never stop.

By: Rachel Cohen