Living a mindful and intentional life. Sounds awesome, right? But if you’re new on this journey, or maybe have fallen off after a while of being on it, the path can be overwhelming and/or you may feel like you don’t know where to start. It can also be challenging because society tends to value the opposite – being busy. Valuing a work-filled life. Of course, there isn’t anything wrong with these things if they are truly your values. But I’m going to guess if you’re here, they aren’t.
So where to begin? To answer this question, I called out to some amazing bloggers who write about living a mindful and intentional life, and asked them to share a tip they would tell someone just starting out on this journey. Check out their responses below.
Check in with your body. Right now. Are you tense? Are you tired? Are you feeling ok? How often do you stop and just check in with your body? I used to NEVER do this. I would just rush about my day, only thinking about what I had to do next or where I needed to be next. Imagine my surprise when I started regularly checking in with myself and found that I was constantly holding tension, my jaw was often clenched, and my breath shallow? Maybe you have started realizing you're like me. Or, maybe you constantly are getting sick, have a headache, or are always tired (obviously I'm not a doctor here, so if you have concerns about your health, you should talk with your doctor). In my experience, these are all clues that your body is telling you to slow down, and that it is in need of some TLC.
Just like your body gives you clues and insight into how it is feeling and what it needs, you have another part of you that also gives you clues, insight, and direction. Your intuition. Your intuition can give you guidance in all aspects of your life, if you choose to listen to it. Have you ever had 'a feeling' that something wasn't right or in contrast, that something was absolutely the right choice? That was your intuition. Some people describe it as a 'gut feeling'. If you are interested in learning more about listening to your intuition, I would highly recommend the podcast 'The Lively Show by Jess Lively' (here is her website). I have learned a lot about listening to my intuition by listening to Jess.
Another method that can be great for stopping and listening to your body and/or intuition is through meditation. I would recommend checking out my 2-minute guided meditations (with nature photography). These are quick and guide you through the meditation, so they are perfect for those just starting out, or those who want to use it as an intro to a longer practice.
If meditation isn't for you, or you want to try something else, I wrote about 5 ways to meditate, without actually meditating. These activities can provide some of the same benefits as meditation. You can find that post here.
Listening to your body and mind is a great way to start living a more intentional and mindful life. It makes you aware of what is going on. Whether listening to your body's physical cues or your internal guidance with your intuition, you can be sure to be on the right path to living a life you want to live.
Laura - The Mindful Mom Blographer
The first time I ever meditated (which is only one form of mindfulness), I felt so silly. I remember sitting there, with my yoga classmates, feeling as though they were all staring at me. I thought I must have looked pretty silly. So I kept opening my eyes to check if they were staring at me. My lack of confidence got the best of me.
Obviously they were not staring at me. Everyone in that room had their eyes closed, were sitting or lying in their relaxing pose, and were totally immersed in their own world. Nobody gave a darn about what I was doing.
Then I felt silly because I was worried I looked silly.
Starting something new will always make you feel silly. So just be silly. Have fun with your mindfulness practice until you feel comfortable enough to sit in that meditation room with other people. Channel that feeling of silliness, use it to fuel your practice.
Don’t be afraid to feel silly. In your mindfulness practice and in your life. You never know what wonderful things you will experience!
Megan Johnson - Learning Lotuses
As a yoga teacher and practicing yogi, I am always looking for ways to practice awareness, practice being in the now. I find that journaling and paying attention to my breath and my thoughts helps me become more mindful. I think a way to introduce mindfulness to your life is by slowing down. Slowing down applies to anything from work, to food, to relationships. When you slow down you become more aware of what you are doing. I find that slowing down allows me to be more precise, more detailed, more focused. I am able to complete my work faster and with better results. It gives me the opportunity to really focus on what's in front of me. It teaches me how important the things and people that I have in my life, really are.
When I slowed down, I became more aware, more aware of myself, more aware of the impact my behavior had on others. I feel like slowing down deserves its own blog post, it's so important, but we often dismiss it. When you slow down you can really allow what you practice become part of you and master what you are doing. When you fully immerse yourself in something, magic happens.
As you begin in your mindfulness journey, slowing down can be challenging. Focus on one task first. Allow yourself the time to really laser focus on what you are doing. Take a few breaths and give yourself a mental check, acknowledge your slowing down and how it gives you space to become more aware.
Dagmara - Dagmara Postelle
Take it as a journey
Write it out
A friend encouraged me to write out my “ideal normal day” when I first started seeking a more intentional life. What an ideal normal day would feel like, what I would do with my time, where I would live, what would my family be doing? It took me about an hour to write, but I have referred back to that little document again and again. It has been exhilarating to see parts of that vision become a reality the past few years! When you know where you want to go you can be much more intentional in your decisions.
Maegan O'Loughlin - This Blue Dress
Don't get frustrated
Don’t get frustrated if you try things and they do not work right away. Especially meditation. I had a life coach once tell me that meditation is like doing a pull up for the brain. It’s hard, and at first, you may not be successful. But the more that you practice, the better you will get at it. One day, you’ll be able to do the pull up. Then 2, then 3….
Mindfulness practices are unfortunately a lot of work in the beginning. Creating the habit is not easy, but the results that they have are so worth the effort. Go on. Do that pull up.
Caitlin Downs - Snuggleosophy
A huge thank you to Megan, Dagmara, Elva, Maegan, and Caitlin for sharing their tips with us. I would highly recommend checking out their blogs - they are full of great information and resources to help you incorporate mindfulness and intentional living into your everyday life.
Megan Johnson – Learning Lotuses
Dagmara – Dagmara Postelle
Elva Fisher – Pursuing Delights
Maegan O'Loughlin - This Blue Dress
Caitlin Downs - Snuggleosophy
What tip would you add? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!