Funny how taking a pause brings forth creative ideas, interests and strengths you didn't even know you have in the first place. Yes, we are one of the small businesses put up in the midst of a lock down. We are a lifestyle brand that supports a movement, a movement that contributed to our fruition. The simple answer to the title of this blog is the slow life, more popularly known as mindfulness.
I remember my bestfriend and I sitting outside Dunkin Donuts one cold December night last year. We were writing down our goals for the following year. They were mainly about business ideas and other possible sources of income.
Two months into 2020, I kept looking for opportunities and researching industries but nothing seemed to click with me quite well. I had accepted that it would be just another resolution I'll never get to tick off my list. Then Covid19 happened. We were among those privileged enough to get paid to stay at home and not work for 6 long months. I had so much time in the world, I have done everything you could ever imagine just so I could convince myself that I was still productive and in control. I watched anime for the first time, saw all the hyped up series on Netflix, exercised every single day, listened to podcasts, read books, you name it. But what changed everything was the moment I started meditating. That's when I learned what true "pause" means which basically is being mindful of the present moment. It was a struggle to quiet my anxious thoughts and it still is. I have to constantly pull myself back to the now (perfectly normal). Gradually, I was starting to notice things I was too busy to see back then. I was too caught up in the hustle and bustle of the city, the pressure and societal expectations that I didn't even know my mom was studying aromatherapy! My past life and career choices, my patterns and tendencies, my hobbies and interests, my beliefs, what I am good at and what I value, all surfaced onto my consciousness and made sense. Somehow, I was able to connect the dots. It was like an epiphany. You know, that feeling of a bulb suddenly lighting up inside your head. These striking realizations all led to the actualization of the business, from the chosen niche, name, core values, packaging, branding, mission and vision, up to the marketing strategies.
I still have a lot to learn about myself. It'll be a lifelong journey. This, however, is a huge jump. There are many benefits to mindful living but it is the increased self-awareness that makes the big difference.
So what exactly is mindfulness? According to www.headspace.com:
"Mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment — free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them"
You may think you are taking a break when your mind is actually elsewhere, consumed in thoughts. To be fully present is hard especially during the first tries but it is a quality that every human being already possesses. You just have to learn how to access it. It is a challenge to be mindful all the time but intentionally trying to be, in your own little ways, is way better than not trying at all.
Here are 3 simple practices you could do on the daily to be fully present:
Often when we eat, we eat on autopilot that we barely feel satisfied and nourished. Practice not multi-tasking when you are eating. Put away your phone. Don't eat while watching TV, doing some chores or working. When you eat, eat slowly in controlled portions, notice the smell of the food, focus on chewing, feel the texture, savor its taste and imagine it roll over your throat as you swallow.
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
As you go outside, feel the meeting of your feet with the ground and the movement of your legs and body. Look at the trees, lights, people and establishments for a little longer. Listen to the wind, the birds and the sound of moving vehicles. To walk mindfully is to be fully aware and engaged in the blessings of nature. Do it with intent and you'll see a whole different world you might haven't noticed before. Discover the beauty in the mundane.
Start at 10-15 minutes. Practicing it regularly though is key to strengthening your mindfulness muscles so it would be easier for you to be present throughout the day. It is during meditation that you can concentrate on your body, senses and breathing. Breathing in and out help you momentarily get out of your thoughts and keep in touch with your true self. Remember you are not your thoughts. There are a number of great guided meditations on Spotify and YouTube that you can follow. Use of certain essential oils can aid your sessions as well. You may diffuse Frankincense essential oil in the background or apply Grounding, a ready-to-use roller blend.
It's ironic to live a life so short and make full sense of it only when you take a pause and I couldn't think of anything more important to achieve in this lifetime than the awareness of one's self. That way, you'll discover what truly matters and how you could best bring value to others. Everything you need is already within you and if you are aware of that, the rest will follow.
I have prepared soft copies of these 3 highly-recommended Mindfulness books for you. Subscribe to Alwan Digest with your email addresses to have the copies sent right to your emails.
- Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan
- The Power of the Now by Eckhart Tolle
- The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
Let us know how mindfulness improved your life! Comment them below.