How often have you said to yourself that you need a break, you need some time out that you're not getting time to yourself? I think we can all relate to this feeling, some of us feel it more often than others. I felt like this all the time and sometimes I still do. When we think about consciousness it's like some unattainable higher state, one which only the most spiritual amongst us can achieve.
But, becoming conscious is a staple of Ayurvedic living and it hugely impacts on your wellbeing, it doesn't require any special training or knowledge nor does it require hours of meditative practice. For me, becoming conscious came when I had my children, the experience so far has in many ways been an awakening for me. I've learnt more about myself as a person than at any other time in my life, but we don't need to have a life-changing experience in order to become conscious at all.
By simply taking a few seconds to think about what you are doing or saying can be all it takes to lead a conscious life. In doing so you will find many other knock-on benefits. An Ayurvedic life is a balanced conscious life, understanding ourselves and those around us better and living in harmony with them. In doing so we live a contented life.
Here are my top 5 tips to living a more conscious life.
1. Conscious eating - Think before you eat
Ok, so you've probably heard this one before. But it's much harder than we think. We're used to eating in front of a screen or whilst in the middle of thinking about something else, for so of us it's constantly eating on the go. Now if you've not practiced this at all then the simple act of thinking about what you're eating might be stressful in itself but it's all about taking baby steps. Try eating one meal a day without any distractions, put your phone away, switch the telly and computer off perhaps try eating on that dining table you never use. Put some nice music on and simply enjoy what your eating. Or, when you're reaching for that 3pm sweet lull, think about what you're wanting to put in your mouth. You'll be surprised, by just taking a few moments to think about you're craving will reveal that what you actually need is probably a handful of nuts instead of a chocolate bar.
2. Conscious being - Check in with yourself
Our minds are constantly in 'doing' mode that we rarely check in with ourselves, by that I mean taking a couple of minutes to simply be. Just what do I mean by that? It's to coin an old phrase literally to take a moment and 'smell the roses'. This can literally be anywhere, in the shower in the morning, whilst sipping a cup of tea in the office or last thing before bedtime. Take this time to simply be present don't think about the past or future, just be present. Think about how your body feels, how your mind feels, how your life feels. And that is it, we have a tendency to over analyse things but this practice is all about letting yourself not get caught up in any negative thinking, just accept things the way they are, simply be.
3. Conscious conversation - Speaking mindfully
So, you're probably reading this thinking, hang on a second, I think before I speak all the time. I only say things which are needed, but how often have you consciously taken some time to think about what you are about to say before you do? I have plenty of examples of situations where I rushed in with what I thought I should say and in fact, it ended badly. Taking a few moments to think about what you plan on saying and what impact it might have on the recipient will often result in you either not saying it or saying something completely different. Our 'on the go' life often leads us to speak in the same manner quick and reactive, and more often than not it's something negative. It's as if moaning has become the staple of many of our conversations taking a moment to think might just result in us saying more positive things, which in turn lead to a positive return.
4. Conscious expressions - Smile
When was the last time you really smiled at someone? I'm not talking about those involuntary smiles you might give out when the person in Pret a Manger smiles at you as pay for your lunch. I'm talking about genuinely looking a stranger in the eyes and giving them an authentic smile. If you can't remember then it's time to change. Smiling has so many benefits to our wellbeing, it makes you feel human for starters. Have you ever thought that it's only humans who have the unique ability to give a genuine smile? Smiling triggers off so many of the feel-good neuro-transmitters which can lower your heart rate and your blood pressure. So smiling is great for your health! This really special expression can change a persons day and make them feel great about themselves. Try flashing a genuine smile at someone today and see how it makes you feel.
5. Conscious lifestyle - Creating less waste or upcycling something
My grandmother was a master of upcycling, she never used to throw out a glass jar when I was a kid, always keeping it for her homemade chutneys or to keep dried fruit and nuts in. She always re-used plastic bags long before we had a plastic bag ban in the UK, and her particular favourite upcycle was to carefully open presents so she could retain the wrapping and use it later to cover her books!
When you take a moment to think about all things you waste you realise that we produce a lot of waste and most of it is totally unnecessary. When we become conscious of our waste we become more attuned to our environment. It's one way of living in harmony with our surroundings and ultimately our planet. So try finding just one way you can reduce waste. In our house, we no longer use plastic bottles, and we've switched to eco-friendly laundry liquid and cleaning products because a house with young children means a lot of dirty laundry and cleaning up but one which I don't want to contaminate with yet more chemicals.
Take baby steps by trying out one technique a week and see how it affects your wellbeing. Don't fret if you can't do all of them, we're all on a journey when it comes living more consciously it's a gradual transition and it shouldn't be any other way. I'd love to hear how you're experiences of implementing some of these techniques so do leave me a comment below and tell me about them.