When my yoga teacher guides us through our ujjayi breaths, and tells the class to clear our minds, I’m actually always secretly wondering how this mother of three seems to have it all together all the time.
If you’re like me, you feel yourself pulled in a thousand directions everyday. Everything seems urgent, and while trying to please everyone, your temper is short, and relationships with your spouse and children just feel out of whack. And self-care, arguably the most important of all, is practically non-existent.
<Me and Aishah>
While I only attend her yoga classes once a week, I was really keen to know how Aishah always seems so at peace, and always has a kind word for everyone. I mean, I’ve been to some yoga classes where I can’t wait to get away from the impatient teacher before, so I know it’s not just a teaching persona.
One day before class, as we were chit chatting, I asked her if she’d mind sharing some of her tips on mindful living and she graciously agreed.
<I made Aishah wear some of my jewellery while we chatted about mindfulness>
Tip Number 1: Breathe
Well, this is surprising. Her top tip was simply to breathe, and notice your breath. When we’re anxious or stressed, the first physiological thing that happens is that our breath becomes faster and shallower. That reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, and causes stress.
Maybe because we've been been doing this since we were born, we take every breath for granted and simply let it happen to us, instead of noticing how every breath is fueling our lives.
When you notice your breath, the first thing that happens unconsciously, is that your breathing slows down. That kick starts a virtuous cycle where you’ll feel less stressed, and you become more aware of your surroundings, how you feel, and what you’re experiencing, aka, you’re more mindful.
<Look at my face, any doubt that I need tips with mindfulness?>
Tip Number 2: Meditate
I was a bit sceptical when Aishah told me that meditation was an important part of being more mindful. I know many successful people like Anthony Robbins and Oprah swear by meditation, but I was always wary of the religious aspects of meditation.
Aishah, who got her yoga teacher certification in Santa Barbara, USA, shared with me that meditation doesn’t have to look like me sitting cross-legged with my eyes closed and chanting some mantra. In fact, there’s such a thing as “active meditation”. For some people, going on long runs is their form of meditation. I’m sure we all know of that friend (or maybe you’re like that) who says that her daily jog helps to clear her mind.
<That's me showing Aishah my handmade jewellery work>
She pointed out that for me, my meditation probably happens when I’m making jewellery. I’ll tell you right now that she stunned me with that insight. I literally feel like I’m “in the zone” when I’m working with all my gems and metals. Everything fades away, and I emerge from every jewellery making session with a clear plan of what I need to do. How did she know?!
I believe it even made me a better mom. I’m more patient with my children these days. I’m not saying I never flare up anymore, but I’m making progress, and that’s all that matters. So I’m now a convert that my form of mediation truly helps me be more centred and mindful.
<Aishah wearing the Jade with Zircon Vine Floral Ear Studs>
Tip Number 3: Be Grateful, Specifically
What does that mean. We’ve all heard that gratitude is important but that’s so broad that it may be hard to practise in real life. So Aishah shared that it is important to literally be grateful for very specific things. That grounds you, and makes you more aware and mindful of your current situation.
For example, instead of saying that I’m grateful for my husband”, I need to make it more specific and say “I’m grateful that my husband does the dishes very night so that my eczema doesn’t worsen”.
Instead of saying that “I’m grateful for my son”, I can make my gratitude practice more powerful by saying that “I’m thankful that my son is not giving up on his Chinese, but is taking the time to improve himself even during the school holidays.’’ This one is a true story.
And it’s not enough to just say it in your head. Write it down, make it the first thing you do when you wake up, or work it into your routine.
<Aishah wearing the Baroque Pearl and Amazonite Cluster Hook Earrings>
At the end of our chat which went by too quickly, I feel like I got to know Aishah a little better, but she has given me some tangible tips which can really help me with living a more mindful life. I don’t want to go through life just being really busy, and not living. I want to be able to look back at my life, and feel like I made a difference to my children, to my husband and to my friends’ lives. Living more mindfully is the first step in helping me achieve that.
If you want the same things, my friends, I invite you to join me in implementing Aishah’s tips for mindful living. And if you want to join me in her yoga class, she teaches yoga every Friday at 1Fiesta at 9am. She has helped me with my form way more than lots of other fancy studio teachers have. Seriously, try out her class. But one thing though, I'm not sure if she can really count, because when asks us to hold the "boat" pose for eight counts, it always seems like ten. Consider yourself warned. :)