Calm in the City
Mindfulness is simply being aware of now without wishing it were different. Traffic, pollution, early morning commutes, the inevitable late nights that come with living in a city…These are not the first things that come to mind when you think about mindfulness.
The new ‘it’ term, mindfulness is taking the city by storm. Guided meditation and how to practise mindfulness workshops are springing up everywhere. Candlelit yoga classes end with focused mediation, Instagram is brimming with bold quotes over arty backgrounds.
But what actually is mindfulness?
The way it stands, it appears it is something you have to pay to learn how to do. Pay for a class, leave in one hour a new mindful person. Buy a book with an instagrammable title, read it on the tube and your practising being mindful. Pin a couple of quotes onto a Pinterest board, read them every day, now you’re mindful…
All of these things are ultimately the antithesis of mindfulness, of being aware. You don’t need expensive candles, a darkened room, Lulu lemon leggings and a cup of over priced, over brewed tea to a background of harmonised chanting.
Mindfulness happens in your thoughts, inside you. You determine what you think of, the practise of mindful thinking is free, easy, and something you have the time and ability to do every single day.
It’s the little things in life, it’s the first sip of coffee, the billow of white breath on a crisp Autumn morning, the crunch of fallen leaves, foaming bubbles in a hot bath at the end of a long day, the coziness of a warm bed on a lazy Sunday morning…
Brief, fleeting moments of enjoyment which, over time, have become normalised and now blend seamlessly into our daily routines. Remind yourself of why you started doing these things in the first place, and how you felt when they were a new and exciting experience for you. Hold onto that feeling as much as you can. Enjoy.
Outside. The easiest place to focus, calm and reset for a more positive outlook. Despite it’s immediate grey, hectic, frantic appearance, the city is an incredibly calm place; you just need to know where to look. The ever changing sky, the backdrop of the city silhouetted against it, is the perfect place to start. Stormy grey, misty blue hues, pink, purple streaks of light, flitting white clouds, iridescent blue with a shimmering haze.. Take note of the sky and observe how it changes as time passes. Find a moment, however brief, to sit and observe. A crushed seat in the window of Timberyard, gazing out at the rush of passers by. Enjoy the feeling of calmness, of stillness, you have created before turning to Instagram, Facebook, the news. The quieter you become, the more you can hear.
“With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy?” - Oscar Wilde
Move. There is far too much emphasis on the need for yoga and mindfulness to be combined as one. However, it is the stillness, both external and internal, yoga provides which enables greater steps towards mindfulness. Developing an awareness of breath, of how the body moves, can only yield positive results and a calmer mind.
Calmness is not something that can be bought, owned, smelt or worn. These things can all contribute to the atmosphere you create around you, but ultimately, you create your own calm. And that is all there is to it.