A few years back, when I first began taking yoga, an instructor (yogi Jess @ Blue Ridge Studio) shared with me how the purpose of yoga was to get out of our heads and into our bodies. It took a minute to sink in, but it made perfect sense when I truly grasped the rationale behind the concept. Our mind is designed to be a tool to facilitate our existence.
When we have a healthy state of self-awareness we survive and ultimately thrive. However, if left unchecked, our mind holds the potential to produce detrimental effects. The most commonly observed effects manifest in varying degrees of anxiety and depression. These are basically two sides of the same coin. One is looking forward to things outside our control and one is looking backward to things outside our control. Equally crippling.
If we can manage to focus our attention on our body we shift our experience. As we redirect our attention, we break our thought stream. This results in entering the present moment. This is the only place true peace resides.
What I loved about this researcher’s work was how she provides an easily accessible approach to getting out of our minds by simply tapping into our 5 senses. Similar to my very first meditation (the longest minute of my entire life), I believe this could be an easily accessible entry point into a space we generally only stumble upon. By starting the day with the intention to tune into one of our five senses, we can implement a practice that is certainly easier when compared to the immense pressure associated with sitting and attempting to meditate for the first time (even for a minute).
The five senses are, after all, our only connection to the external world and serve as confirmation that we are alive. And truth be told, feeling alive is what we are all unknowingly chasing. Chasing, but unfortunately, only catching on rare occasions. Each of us has experienced it from various sources, engaging in extreme sports, riding roller coasters, falling in love, traveling to new locations, seeing brilliant works of art, and standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon.
These are the moments, due to their inerrant novelty, that catapult us into the present moment. But what if we didn’t have to go to the Grand Canyon or board a roller coaster, to experience this feeling? What if we could develop a habit that would help us to reside in our body experiencing life through our five senses, continuously being reminded that we are alive?
Just try it. It’s low risk, easily implemented, and with immediate benefits. As you make your way in the coming days, decide to stop and really smell the roses, to pause and genuinely engage in petting a puppy, to hesitate before you put in your earbuds and really listen to the score the birds are offering up, to give yourself permission take a minute to observe the finest details of everyday objects you come in contact with and to savor every single bite of food you encounter as if it’s your last. Do this and I promise you, you will most certainly feel alive.