• Kara Cushway

Practices for a More Mindful Month

Know what’s absolutely crazy? It’s August already! Last time I looked, we were just moving to Oklahoma, it was May, and raining all the time, I had to wear a sweater outside … and now the grass is yellow and you can’t drive your car right away when you start it because it’s too hot inside to even breathe.

Last week I reflected on Lughnasadh, the festival marking the start of the harvest season, and one of the ways I proposed celebrating it is by starting anew, or by renewing the yearly goals you set in January (if you are a resolutionist*. *I made that word up.) Even if it’s only a mental fresh start, I am totally on board for clearing the cobwebs, taking a deep breath, and making a (loving) game plan for the rest of the year.

That’s exactly what I’m doing in this post today. I’ve never had a “bucket list” for a particular month before, but that’s sort of what this one is. These are some of the things that I have always wanted to do but don’t often get around to doing, not to mention things that make me feel better about myself and my impact on the world around me. These are some small things I can do to have a more mindful month.

1. Catch a sunrise. I’m almost never awake for the sunrise, which is truly disappointing! I love the early morning when everything’s quiet and there’s plenty of time for yourself, not to mention the uplifting sight of the sun coming up. This month, I’d like to wake up early at least once and enjoy the rising sun.

2. Try meditating. The other day, Adriene (from Yoga with Adriene) posted a suggestion on Instagram that we take a break from waking up and immediately getting on our phones. I didn’t do this at the time, because, frankly, I forgot, but I’d love to do it this month, possibly in collaboration with my goal to witness a sunrise. For at least 5 days this month, I want to wake up and meditate and connect with my body BEFORE getting on my phone or zooming off on the day’s tasks.

3. Watch your words. Frequently guilty of NOT doing this. Whether it’s complaining, gossip, or some other kind of negative talk, it can be difficult, in the moment, to notice that you’re speaking negatively, or in a way that sows negativity. Any kind of negative speech makes an impact on your mental state and on those around you. Being more aware of the words I speak is one way I can practice mindfulness, with the understanding that complaining and gossiping are essentially bad energy that I am creating. Why would I consciously want to create negative energy in my own life? This month, I’d like to practice being more aware of my words, and sharing warmer ones with myself and the people in my life.

4. Use reusables. A year or two ago I was introduced to the concept of “zero waste,” and while I don’t think actually producing zero waste is a reasonable goal for anyone, that introduction made me much more conscious of the types of packaging I’m constantly bringing into our home when I shop for groceries and other household items. Though I’ve already been using reusable grocery bags for a couple years, I haven’t been bringing reusable containers like glass jars or Tupperware when I pick things up from the meat or fish counters, or remembering to pack my reusable coffee mug when I want something from a coffee shop. This month I’d like to try getting coffee in my reusable mug for the first time, and asking the butcher to pack any meat I buy in a container I bring from home so I’m not throwing out plastic and foam packaging.

5. Connect with nature. This one could go along with catching a sunrise for several mornings a month, but in August, we’re facing the winding down of the summer season, so it’s a great time to remind ourselves to get outside and enjoy the sun while it lasts. (Here in Oklahoma I don’t have to worry about the sun – or heat – going anywhere soon, but a girl can dream of fall.) For myself, I’d like to get out and swim a couple more times this month before the pools close on Labor Day weekend! But of course you can always go hiking, biking, stargazing, boating, or walking in the forest, among many other things, to connect with nature.

6. Organize. This might seem a little unorthodox when it comes to practicing mindfulness, but I firmly believe that having a clean, organized home is a great way to practice mindfulness. I’ve always had trouble relaxing and de-stressing in a messy or cluttered room. Take a look around and see if there’s a room in your house that could stand to be organized or cleaned. It might not be a room specifically, either; perhaps there’s a chore you’ve been putting off for a long time. Get it done! That in itself frees up some mental space. This month, I plan on going through everything in our basement storage area and seeing if I can organize, tidy, and/or donate things so it’ll be easier for us when we move again in the fall.

7. Eat more fruits & veg. I know you’re probably tired of hearing this. I am. But apparently fruits and vegetables are totally good for you! And I KNOW I don’t eat nearly enough of them. What’s more is that I know I feel better when I eat fruits and vegetables and other whole foods as opposed to the packaged and processed foods we all know are slowly killing us. Being aware of our eating patterns, and working to include a few servings of fresh vegetables and fruits a day is a great way to practice mindfulness.

Do you struggle with mindfulness? What are some of your favorite ways to practice this skill?


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