Published in Explore Magazine:
4 Steps to bring mindfulness to your next adventurous pursuit:
Step 1 – Bring awareness to your breath
Seemingly simple, and seriously profound. Yet reliable access to the focus that breath awareness brings is not simple, it’s a skill, and requires an ability to become more quickly aware of those times you’re preoccupied with planning, calculation, judgement, and general thought.
Step 2 – Bring awareness to your body
Breath awareness can then extend to body awareness. Access to body awareness that is free of judgement is also challenging, especially during adventure; athletes like to quantify their bodily sensations with tags such as tired, sore, strong, good, bad, which are largely based on past experiences which then predict and influence what will happen in the future. Allowing your body to be-just-as-it-is moment to moment can free you to perform more naturally and up to your full potential.
Step 3 – Bring awareness to the environment
Become aware of the urge to tell friends how amazing the scenery is, trust that if they notice you taking a moment to soak in the beauty of the environment, they’ll get the message. Even when you’re in action there are opportunities to be-with nature; and when you’re in the midst of a challenging adventure these moments may be the most inspiring re-fuel opportunities you have access to, the question is, do you have the ability to take advantage of a mindful moment?
Step 4 – Raw Experience
Bring the experience of your breath, your body, and the environment together into an unending moment of raw experience. Photographers know that the best way to capture an image is in the ‘RAW’ format. It’s unedited and holds the most information. When you’re in flow during an adventure you are instantaneously absorbing the raw information moment to moment without the mind trying to edit it down into bite size thoughts. For a moment, there is no separation between you and the mountains, rocks, snow, water, and trail. You become one with all that is. Those moments, in my opinion, are the foundation of why we adventure.
To enact these four mindfulness steps during an adventure requires practice. Try this bare bones meditation:
- Set your timer for 5 minutes.
- Sit on a chair.
- Keep your eyes open with a fixed gaze.
- Be physically still.
- Relax with your awareness on your natural breath
- Thoughts happen naturally, that’s what our mind does. You may however get ‘lost in thought’.
- Mindfulness is the ability to become aware of when your thinking. From ‘lost in thought’ to the moment you notice you’re lost in thought.
- That gives you a choice of where to direct your awareness, in this practice, bring it back to your breath
- Soon, you’ll get lost in thought again,and then you’ll notice you’re lost in thought.
- With repetition, you’ll begin building the muscle of mindfulness so you more quickly realized you’re zoned out.
- This skill will translate to having mindfulness during your adventurous pursuits, allowing more time in the present to absorb the goodness and beauty of all that is. Awesome!!
Now, easier said than done. Join me by listening to this short 5 minute guided bare bones meditation. Prepare by finding a chair and a quite space distraction free for just 5 minutes…