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Mindful : August 2016
Close your eyes and in your own time, without forcing anything, take three long, deep breaths. Allow yourself to make an exaggerated sigh- ing sound on the exhalation, seeing if you can let go a little more with each out breath. Gently hold your atten- tion on your breath and, after each exhalation, allow your next breath to come when it’s ready. This short pause between breaths can be very calming. Once you have taken three deep breaths, allow your breath to resume its natural rhythm. Take a few moments to tune into the sounds around you, and pause. Notice the sensation of air on your face, and pause. Bring your aware- ness down into your feet, and pause. Really feel the connec- tion your feet are making with the ear th beneath you. Allow yourself to feel grounded, connected, and suppor ted. Allow yourself to become really aware of where you are. You might say silently to yourself, “For the duration of this hike there is nowhere else I need to be; no one else I need to be pleasing. This is my time. Time I’m giving myself to recharge and recon- nect with nature.” When you are ready, gently blink your eyes open and re- orient yourself before starting your hike. PRACTICE Note the Pause between Breaths well-being, helps alleviate stress and anxiety, promotes creativity, assists with recovery from mental fatigue, helps restore attention, boosts the brain’s ability to think, and engages the senses. While a reg ular seated meditation practice is a very important part of my life, I find opportuni- ties to practice mindfulness in many other ways. Short, simple mindfulness exercises incorpo- rated into an activity such as hiking are an easy, enjoyable, and surprisingly effective way of being more mindful. Next time you head out for a hike, why not make it a mindful hike? Stop Before You Start We rarely pause between activities. As a result, we can carry the stress and tension of a previous activity, conversation, or train of thought over into what we are about to do. Before setting off on your hike, take a few moments to allow your- self to come into the present moment (try the “Note the Pause between Breaths” practice), let- ting go of any thoughts or concerns that might be on your mind. → August 2016 mindful 73