Forget all the crazy rules! Do mindfulness simply and joyfully. Here’s how…

So if you’ve only just started getting into the mindfulness movement or a Yoga practice, there can seem like loads of rules.

Relax the mind, breathe through your nose, soften the shoulders, don’t think about things… All these instruction can seem almost counter-intuitive. 

I mean, isn’t the point to relax - not to worry if you are doing everything right!?! I hear you…

At the age of 21 I had a meditation and mindfulness experience that was on the more strict and challenging end of the spectrum - I went to a 10 day Vipassana Meditation Retreat.

Vipassana is considered one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques, made known in the west through the teachings of S.N. Goenka. Now Vipassana ain't for the faint hearted as it’s 10 days of COMPLETE silence, aptly called Noble Silence - cause to achieve it feel pretty impressed and proud of yourself!

It also runs a schedule for which our modern daily grind is not accustomed: 4am wake-up for morning meditation, breakfast, mediation, lunch and afternoon break (meditation free), meditation, then dinner, followed by an evening lecture.

All this before a curfew of approximately 9.30pm. Lights out, no reading, writing, and certainly no instagram.

My point is that there are many, many ways to get chill. The opportunity to calm oneself, be present with your own mind and go within doesn't necessarily require extreme isolation, deprivation and abstinence. 

You can create small sanctuaries of time by sitting on the office / uni/ home toilet cubicle (seat down) and locking the door, closing the eyes and taking some full and thoughtful breaths. Whilst this isn’t the most lux or sexy of options, it might be all you can muster at a given moment, in between emails, customers, etc…

I personally love Yoga for bringing me into my body and making me aware of the feelings and sensations going on in my muscles and how my brain responds (*yells*) when in Warrior II for more than 30 seconds. I might be biased though, but I am rarely more mindful when I’m on my yoga mat.  

Another option could be to get onto the wildly popular colouring book phenomenon topping the Amazon book charts.

For something easy, and DIY at home though, I recommend exploring your Mandala Art style. Mandalas are a beautifully simple way to use your own hand and instinct for shape and movement, and explore your own innate creativity.

It’s my view, that if you use a colouring in book to doodle your mind to stillness, you cheat yourself out of the possibilities of self-expression.

Through gently growing a hand-drawn spontaneously designed mandala, you slow yourself down, bring yourself into close attention and detail of what’s happening on the page in that very moment, and the results are much, much more rewarding and surprising.

 In fact, I’m offering monthly drop-in Mandala Art Classes at Boda Bar, Edinburgh, starting November 23 – why don’t you join me!?