How to Grow Healthy Relationships in the Garden of Life?

“How to maintain healthy relationships?” A friend of mine once asked me.  Surely, it will not happen by itself.  All kinds of relationships in our life need to be nurtured and taken good care of, with kindness and patience.

Imagine, you are a gardener and relationships are like flowers you are growing in your garden to brighten up your day. Without watering, taking the weeds away, fertilising the soil, talking to the buds and sharing your love with them, they most probably won’t give flowers or won’t grow at all. 

So, garden is our life, flowers are people we have relationships with (any kind of relationships), and we are gardeners. But do we know what the main pillars  are for our garden to bloom?

Self-love – learn from the sun!

Imagine the sun; it shines for everyone without making any choices or differences. The sun does not shine more or brighter for one or the other person, it remains equanimous. If the sun has enough energy, enough of warmth, it gives the full power to the world equally. Same for us: when we are full of love and kindness, aware of our own value, we generate the power of love and we are more able to bring it to the world too.

Of course, there are moments when the sun is hidden behind the clouds, but that does not mean the sun left us for good. So, when we feel a bit blue or down, we should not give up or fall for depression. We should remind ourselves of something positive and try to focus on things we have done great so far. Breath it over and have patience! The sun never leaves us because we are the Sun. The Sun always waits within, patiently to be seen and felt again.

And once you feel it, stay wise. If you give too much to one flower only, you can burn it. If you forget about the other one and do not give it enough of light, it may die too. What does it say about love in general? To keep things in balance. If we are trying to give more than what we have, we soon end up being a slave to our own emotions, most likely creating false illusions. If we do not give at all, we are making ourselves less rich humans, because we came here to love consciously, with awareness to our own energy and needs. By keeping things balanced, we are able to generate enough of love and kindness for ourselves in order to spread it further.

Be the brightest yet most tender sun for your garden!

Communication – bird loves singing when in balance

Taking good care of a relationship is like creating comfortable home together. Imagine love being like a small bird that you hold in both hands. One hand is your own and the other one is your partner’s. The bird is, obviously, your love. If you hold both hands together too tight, the bird won’t be able to breath and it will die sooner or later. Too much care and no freedom will give it no chance to spread its wings. If you open up both hands out wide, you may lose connection with your partner easily, so the bird will fly away and might never come back.

That is what happens when there is a lack of communication or care. Connection fades away. But if you hold both hands together in a comfortable way, making the bird feel like at home, it will want to stay with you. And even if it flies somewhere to explore from time to time, it will come back to you, stronger and transformed into a more beautiful thing, but most importantly, it will want to stay at home, regularly. So, balance and right amount of care, love,  and freedom is really necessary in order to maintain healthy relationships.

However, one part cannot function properly without the other to maintain our relationships in balance. And that leads to trust.

Everything happens in the right time

Trust  yourself, trust others, trust the universe, embrace your fears and have guts to wait for the results.

Each and every plant has its own time to grow. If you want a rose to give you a flower within a week, it won’t. So why do we tend to push and pressure things when it comes to relationships? Why are we not patient enough to wait how things unravel? There is so much beauty in it, and we can learn a lot along the way. Do not spoil your beautiful garden by being impatient or demanding! Have trust that everything happens in the right time! Let grow together with the other person gently. Let things happen to you instead of chasing  after them.

Having trust that giving energy and balanced amount of effort into your garden will show results sooner or later, saves a lot of headache. What more? Everything around, the wind, rain, animals, fertile soil, simply the universe and „coincidences“ will help bring flowers to your garden too. When the time comes.

Having trust is like being fully transparent in front of the other person. It gives peace and harmony to the mind. Why? Simply because we know there is nothing to worry about, nothing to control, just to let live and co-exist. It feels extremely beautiful when we develop this contentment between two different energies which have basically the same source.

Ultimate Understanding 

You are, always have been and will be the ultimate one for yourself. With this understanding, there is no doubt that the right energy of someone else will resonate with you and your attitude towards life on a certain level combining all what was said previously.

Love is not something ready made. It is a miraculous creation. Being created through experiences, situations, care and effort. It is not the peak we climb but rather leaving the valley; it is joyful walking uphill and seeing beautiful views, same as sometimes painful falls and sweat, after which we help each other to stand up in order to keep going. It is a pleasure of the journey itself, a sail on a wide unknown sea when the wind is fortunate but at the same time sailing against the waves.

So, make yourself comfortable, breath in and out and enjoy the ride! It all starts from knowing yourself.

Photo credits: Jared Rice

Resoluciones de Año Nuevo

¿Te has encontrado alguna vez postergando las metas y resoluciones de año nuevo para el próximo?

Esto se debe, a que muchas veces no nos tomamos el tiempo necesario para realizar todo el proceso que implica establecer nuevas misiones y crear nuevos hábitos para lograr los objetivos del año que comienza.

En este artículo te invito a realizar cada uno de los pasos y ejercicios que  me han servido para mantener constancia durante los doce meses, que si nos descuidamos se van volando.

Todos nacemos con ciertas características que nos diferencian de los demás, inclusive de nuestros hermanos criados por nuestros mismos padres y en el mismo entorno. Por lo tanto, es responsabilidad de cada quien reconocer sus virtudes y sus retos sin avergonzarse de quien realmente es y además, ser consciente de los compromisos personales y sociales que se requieren para transitar esta vida. 

Primero, debes preguntarte: ¿Cuáles son los anhelos de tu corazón? 

Para transformar deseos en acciones primero debes conocerte a ti mismo y esto involucra todas las áreas, toma algún tiempo, pero te sugiero que comiences con una idea general y luego continúes el proceso de auto-observación para ir profundizando en cada una.

En este artículo clasifico las áreas de la vida en siete grupos:

1) Finanzas

Todos tenemos necesidades básicas por las cuales debemos tener una estabilidad financiera. Como por ejemplo la alimentación, educación, vivienda, etc. Ahorrar, mantener las finanzas en orden, asociarse con gente que realice las mismas actividades, son buenas prácticas que te ayudarán a administrar los recursos para vivir en balance y sin estrés. Tú relación con el dinero es como una relación de amistad, necesita atención y agradecimiento. El dinero te puede generar muchas oportunidades pero debes mantener esta relación limpia y positiva. 

Ejercicio: 

Dedícate a observar tu relación con el dinero, como hablas de el, si le echas la culpa por tus problemas o si más bien agradeces por lo que tienes y hasta dónde has podido llegar.

2) Crecimiento espiritual y personal

Todos tenemos la capacidad para ser instrumentos de increíble compasión y perdón, no debemos limitarnos a la creencia popular de que ser espiritual implica vivir en un monasterio o internarse en una montaña sin contacto con el mundo hasta que encontramos aquello llamado “iluminación”, pero el crecimiento personal implica actividades para cultivar paz interior, unirse a una organización sin fines de lucro o simplemente el hecho de mostrar gratitud y compasión hacia otros. 

Ejercicio: 

Te sugiero buscar un retiro donde puedas re-conectar contigo mismo, sin interrupciones, sin distracciones, donde puedas alejarte de los horarios, de las compras, del teléfono… Un espacio donde te dediques solo y únicamente a ti mismo. La práctica de la meditación te puede ayudar a controlar los pensamientos, incrementar la creatividad, crear estabilidad emocional y por consiguiente, mejorar la relación contigo mismo y con los demás.

3) Salud

Sabías que estar saludable es sinónimo de felicidad? La salud no solamente implica el buen estado físico, si no también a nivel mental; del mismo modo que le dedicamos tiempo al cuidado y limpieza del cuerpo debemos purificar y disciplinar la mente. De esto depende todos nuestros pensamientos, palabras y acciones. Si la mente y el cuerpo están en balance, podría decirse que nos encontramos en buena salud.

Ejercicio: 

Asegúrate de dormir suficiente cada día, presta atención a las situaciones que te generan estrés y al manejo del mismo, come natural y sin exceso, elimina las fuentes de toxinas como el alcohol y la comida procesada, mantente activo realizando algún ejercicio físico como el yoga u otro deporte, y práctica la meditación 

4) Familia y amigos

Desde que nacemos formamos parte de una familia, somos seres interdependientes. Compartimos el mismo espacio, los mismos valores y la misma genética. Cuando nos quedamos en nuestra zona de confort, empeñados en nuestro propio bienestar, es como ir en contra de la corriente; debemos aprender a compartir y respetar el espacio y la ideología de vida de nuestra familia y valorar todo el aprendizaje generado en base a esta relación. 

Ejercicio: 

Tómate unos minutos para hacer una lista de las personas que verdaderamente te importan (no incluyas a tus hijos, si tienes). Probablemente te darás cuenta de lo que ya sabías, pero es importante tenerlo actualizado. Ahora dale vuelta a la página y anota una lista de las 10 personas para las cuales crees ser importante. No tiene que coincidir una lista con la otra. Compara las dos listas y te darás cuenta que las relaciones no son necesariamente recíprocas. Con este ejercicio podrás decidir el tiempo, la energía y la fuerza que usas en cada una de tus relaciones. 

¡Rodéate de personas positivas que te ayuden a crecer!

5) Profesión

La profesión requiere pasión y compromiso. Comienza cuando nos apasionamos por una actividad para la cual tenemos la habilidad y el conocimiento hasta que poco a poco se va convirtiendo en un trabajo. Busca la luz en lo que ya haces y conviértelo en tu profesión. Comenzar a tener éxito en lo que haces es la clave para mantener viva tu profesión. 

Ejercicio:

Qué te apasiona? Cómo lo puedes aprender?  Realiza pequeños pasos a la vez, busca tus talentos. 

6) Diversión y Recreación 

Un determinante en nuestro bienestar físico, mental y espiritual es la forma de ver y resolver la vida, la manera de aceptar los retos con una mente clara y desarrollar la creatividad para resolver esos mismos retos. Estar contento viene desde adentro, sin embargo, existe un sinnúmero de actividades externas que nos permiten reír y disfrutar de la vida de una forma sana y divertida. Estar contento es una parte innata y representa como nos expresamos de nosotros mismos. Observa un bebé y como disfruta de cosas pequeñas, sus emociones son verdaderas y auténticas. 

Ejercicio:

Busca un actividad por semana que te genere placer para tus sentidos (que no sea trabajo), de pronto asistir a una clase de baile, montar a caballo, ir al cine, encuentra algo con lo cual te relaciones y que de pronto hayas dejado en el olvido. 

¡Diviértete!

7) Romance

En una relación de pareja, la comunicación es clave, el respeto mutuo y el entendimiento por reconocer las necesidades de cada uno es clave para que perdure el amor. Establecer pilares fuertes de afecto, entendimiento, valores y creencias son fundamentales para el crecimiento en pareja, así como el respeto a los objetivos y sueños individuales.

“Una relación de pareja es la unión en un momento determinado entre dos seres que han descubierto su amor propio y están comprometidos a cultivar y mantener ese amor para poder dar y recibir sin expectativas”.

Si cada parte comparte el mismo nivel de disciplina y perspectiva es muy probable que la relación funcione. Pero nos esforzamos por querer mantener relaciones románticas con personas completamente opuestas a nosotros. 

Ejercicio:

Has un listado con tus necesidades y otra lista con las características que te gustaría encontrar en una pareja romántica. Luego compara las listas y trata de observar si lo que pides es algo que estarías dispuesto a dar. Te sorprenderá saber que a veces no estamos lo suficientemente claros de lo que somos ni de lo que estamos buscando en otros. 

8) Entorno Físico

Existe un concepto hindú llamado Vastu Sastra, y se refiere a la organización de espacios y arquitectura y en los textos habla de cómo el espacio físico nos afecta tanto a nivel físico, mental, emocional y espiritual. La congestión y desorganización de objetos en el hogar y áreas de trabajo podría bloquear la creatividad y la claridad mental. Limpiar los espacios genera paz y un entorno ordenado. Estudios han demostrado que mantener los espacios ordenados pueden reducir la irritabilidad, el estrés, mejorar la productividad y evitar las distracciones. 

Ejercicio:

Es tiempo de eliminar el desorden; comienza por uno o dos cajones y selecciona lo que puedes regalar, botar y guardar. Asegúrate de dejar solo lo que necesitas y acomódalo de acuerdo a la frecuencia de uso. Luego toma un momento para conectar con tus sentimientos, te sientes más ligero? Con más energía? Inspirado a continuar el proceso de limpieza? Y así continúa en todos los espacios del hogar y del trabajo hasta que logres completarlo todo. 

Te animo a que revises cada área y califiques tu nivel de satisfacción en una escala del uno al diez, donde uno es igual a insatisfecho y diez es igual a completamente satisfecho. 

En este cierre de año te invito a realizar un pequeño ritual donde agradeces por todo lo que tienes, tus relaciones y las metas cumplidas en el presente año. Luego, escribe una lista con tus resoluciones de nuevo año tomando en cuenta todas las áreas y luego busca un lugar tranquilo donde puedas cerrar los ojos, inhala y exhala algunas veces hasta sentirte en calma y trata de visualizarte cumpliendo todas las nuevas metas. Cómo sería tu vida si todos los obstáculos fueran removidos? Créete capaz de lograr cuánto te propones, si no sientes ahora mismo esa confianza, comienza por crear una lista de tus logros anteriores donde te has sentido victorioso. 

Finalmente, conecta con esas cualidades que te hacen sentir orgulloso de ti mismo y crea afirmaciones que te motiven a diario a cumplir tus deseos. 

“Desde el ser que habita en mi, honro y agradezco al ser que habita en ti.”

Namaste 

Change Your Fixed Mindset to Access Your Hidden Potential Within

growth-mindset-to-access-hidden-potential

It’s a shame to say that the majority of people living in the modern world have a fixed mindset. By this, I mean that you, as an individual, believe that you have what you’re born with and you are who you are. Some might say that your fate has been decided and life is what it is.

However, others believe in what is known as a growth mindset. This is a frame of mind where you believe that you have to control your mind, your physical attributes, and the way your life is. You just have to be open-minded, work hard and take control of your own decisions.

Of course, summing up both a fixed and a growth mindset in just a hundred words makes it seem far simpler and easier than it actually is, so let’s dive in to see what changes you can make in your life that will help you transfer from a fixed mindset into a growth mindset, which will allow you to unlock your hidden potential within. 

Understanding a Fixed Mindset

Of course, there’s no way you can move on from a fixed mindset unless you fully understand what it is.

“First of all, it’s not a life choice or a way of being. A fixed mindset is simply a bad habit we pick up while growing up and in our everyday lives. You have to realise that you have full control over your mind and the way it works,” explains Darren Harper, a neurological scientist and writer for Academadvisor.

It will hold you back in every situation you find yourself in; it will stop you facing challenges come up against, and it will stop you being the person you want to be. Life is full of risks and the unknown. The only way to get the most out of it is to embrace it.

There are No Challenges, Only Opportunities

How often would you say you face a problem in your life? Once a year? Once a month? Every day? If you’re like pretty much everyone else on the planet, you’ll be facing problems every single day of your life. Some will be big, some will be small, some can be life-changing and some could be not having enough change to buy your coffee.

However, the first step to adopt a growth mindset is not to see problems in your life. There are no problems, only solutions. There are opportunities in everything. They could lead you to a new business model or an amazing book idea. It is up to your choice and the way of seeing it. 

Harness the Power of Writing

Writing has been renowned for thousands of years to be one of the most therapeutic and beneficial tool that human beings can do for themselves, and without exception it puts you on the path to adopting a growth mindset.

Consider the people you would define as successful. They know how they want to communicate. They know the message they are trying to say, and they know how to present it to any audience. If they’re giving a speech, they’ll write down various versions beforehand so they can make sure they get it right. They’ll also write every day about their thoughts, feelings and exciting concepts that spring to mind.

According to study, writing can help you to heal emotional wounds, feel happier and heal from depression and anxiety. Using tools like State of Writing and Via Writing, you too can learn about how to write comprehensively and accurately to wide your brain power, allowing you to articulate yourself properly in any given situation or opportunity.

Don’t be Afraid of Failure

One of the biggest problems we face in life is being held back by our own fear. It doesn’t matter what you set out to do; whether that’s asking a girl to the dance, starting your own business, starting a family, or taking your driving test,  – a fixed mindset is one that will leave you creating excuses in your mind why not to do it.

By implementing a growth mindset, you don’t see failure as something where everything’s gone wrong, and it’s the end of the world. You see it as all the experience you need to succeed.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many things you can do when it comes to changing your fixed mindset into a positive growth mindset. Of course, this is going to take time, but with the right amount of drive and motivation, anything is possible.

Photo source: Pixabay

Cómo cultivar el mindfulness

Minfulness se ha convertido un término de moda de un tiempo a esta parte. Sin embargo, en muchas ocasiones se malinterpreta y desconoce su verdadero significado, más aún cuando se aplica en el contexto de la meditación.

Hay estados mentales, sensaciones o sentimientos que en ocasiones son difíciles de describir, y que algunas lenguas han tenido la capacidad de recoger en un solo término. Este es probablemente el caso de mindful, que, quizá por su afilada certeza en describir un estado mental, se ha adoptado con naturalidad en nuestro propio idioma.

El diccionario define el sustantivo mindfulness con tres sinónimos: attentive, aware, careful; o lo que es lo mismo, atento, consciente, cuidadoso. La acción de practicar el mindfulness convierte a una persona en mindful. Y he aquí una curiosidad; bajo la misma pronunciación se pueden entender dos palabras diferentes, con un significado exactamente opuesto y cuya diferencia cobra aún más sentido simbólico si hablamos de su aplicación literal en el contexto del estudio de la mente… Ambas palabras se diferencian tan solo por una consonante: mindful o mindfull. Lo que en castellano serían, tener o poner atención plena en cada cosa que se hace, y tener la mente llena, respectivamente.

[Fuente: https://peacerevolution.net/]

¿Cuál es la diferencia?

Pasamos media vida con la mente anclada en el pasado y en el futuro. Pensamos en el pasado lejano lamentándonos por cosas que hicimos y evocando recuerdos de vivencias que nos gustaría repetir, a la vez que estamos pendientes del pasado inmediato constantemente ¿dónde dejé las llaves? ¿cerré la puerta del coche? Lo mismo ocurre con el futuro; nos recreamos en imaginar situaciones futuras a la vez que necesitamos pensar en el futuro inmediato para nuestra toma de decisiones inmediatas; ¿qué comeré? ¿llamaré hoy a tal persona o mejor mañana? En definitiva, llenamos nuestra mente de pensamientos, y nos convertimos en mindfull, en mentes llenas.

Estar con la mente en el pasado y el futuro conlleva a que le reste poco espacio para concentrarse en la situación actual, la que estamos viviendo aquí y ahora, en definitiva, al único momento que verdaderamente nos pertenece y sobre el que realmente tenemos control. De este modo, pasamos a meter esta realidad, muchas veces cargada de rutina, en el saco de lo mundano, de aquello que se hace sin pensar, pasando así también a vivir de un modo en el que la multitarea no solo se premia sino que se motiva intencionadamente… ¿por qué no iría yo a aprovechar a leer los últimos titulares en mi teléfono mientras me preparo un vaso de café y me lo bebo como desayuno?

Como consecuencia, vivimos una vida a la que nosotros mismos le restamos interés. Algunos, para recuperar la plenitud, se someten a experiencias extremas, “vivir la vida a tope”. Otros, buscan todo lo contrario; ser mindful, o lo que es lo mismo, poner atención plena en todo lo que hacen, sin importar cuán de mundano y rutinario parezca, para conseguir la misma sensación: ESTAR VIVIENDO LA VIDA CON PLENITUD, CON CONSCIENCIA aprendiendo así a disfrutar de ella en cada momento.

¿Por qué no iba a ser un disfrute preparar el desayuno de cada mañana, oliendo el aroma que desprenden los granos de café al ser molidos, escuchando el sonido de del agua ebullendo borbotones de café, preparando la mezcla perfecta de ingredientes en una taza, paladeando los primeros sorbos…? Ser capaces de disfrutar de algo así requiere entrenar la mente para estar concentrada en una única cosa. Pero lo que es mejor, esta consciencia de los pequeños detalles, acaba por atraer GRATITUD. Gratitud por un día más, por una mañana más, por un desayuno más… ¿o es que acaso tenemos la garantía de que el café de la víspera no fuera a ser el último?

Vivir la vida de forma mindful o con atención plena son el resultado lógico de la práctica de la meditación. Con ella, aprendemos a parar la mente, a llevarla a un estado de quietud, a observar y a ser neutrales. Y, lo que es más importante, con este descanso mental atraemos un profundo bienestar, una fuente inagotable de positivismo.

¿Y tú? ¿Quieres ser mindfull o mindful?

It’s the Little Things in Life: Happiness Practices Around the World

Happiness Practices Around the World

Happiness isn’t all about grand ambitions and big achievements, it’s also about the little touches that make daily life a bit nicer.

All over the world, people have found their own ways to brighten up a difficult day without the need to spend money. Our new series of illustrations takes a look at a few that you might like to try for yourself.

Japan: ‘shrinrin-yoku’

Happiness: ‘shrinrin-yoku’ Peace Revolution
Japan: ‘shrinrin-yoku’

It may sound like an ancient rite, but Japanese forest-bathing was first developed as a scientifically verified aid to conventional medicine in the 1980s. Take yourself for a mindful walk through the woods when you feel low and you can rejuvenate mind, body and soul.

Hawaii: ‘Ho‘oponopono’

Happiness: ‘Ho‘oponopono’ Peace Revolution
Hawaii: ‘Ho‘oponopono’

Hawaiians have a good awareness for the idea that anger and resentment hurt the person that feels those emotions more than the one who provoked them. Literally meaning “to make right”, the double use of the word pono – right – indicates that you must make things right with yourself as well as the other person. When you feel your anger swell, sit down with that person and talk openly about your feelings.

Norway: ‘friluftsliv’

Happiness: ‘friluftsliv’ Peace Revolution
Norway: ‘friluftsliv’

Norwegians define themselves by their connection to the natural world and outdoors living. The winter is so dark that they have to roam a little to keep their spirits up, and summer days last so long that there’s always time to visit nature. Putting some time aside each day to walk in the park or really listen to a nearby river can help you find your place in the world.

Germany: ‘gemütlichkeit’

Happiness: ‘gemütlichkeit’ Peace Revolution
Germany: ‘gemütlichkeit’

When you picture a group of Germans sitting around and laughing, that’s gemütlichkeit. Difficult to directly translate, it describes a very special kind of social bonding where being playful and lively can create a sense of belonging. You can create this feeling with your family or friends by treating each meeting as an occasion and always taking an opportunity to dance or sing together.

Spain: ‘siesta’

Happiness: ‘siesta’ Peace Revolution
Spain: ‘siesta’

The famous Spanish afternoon nap has been around for thousands of years and, if it used to be considered a physical necessity, today it is often regarded to be a luxury. Even if you don’t live in a hot climate, a 20-minute nap after lunch can help avoid that energy dip that derails so many good starts.

Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil: ‘mate’

Happiness: ‘mate’ Peace Revolution
Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil: ‘mate’

“Yerba mate raises morale,” wrote the French Society of Hygiene in 1909, “sustains the muscular system, augments strength and allows one to endure privations. In a word, it is a valiant aid.” This miraculous tree leaf tea can be taken alone as part of your morning ritual or sipped from a calabash bowl and passed around with friends.

Turkey: ‘keyif’

Happiness: ‘keyif’ Peace Revolution
Turkey: ‘keyif’

If keyif is a central part of Turkish national culture it is also, in practice, a very personal thing. Keyif means just finding a moment to be by yourself and to quietly live in the moment. You can choose to do so on the beach, on a park bench or in the bath.

Bosnia & Herzegovina: ‘kafa’

Happiness: ‘kafa’ Peace Revolution
Bosnia & Herzegovina: ‘kafa’

The tempo in Bosnia is somewhat slower than elsewhere in Europe, and kafa – the coffee break – is a big part of that. Sitting down with this specially prepared brew means committing to a discussion of world affairs and personal gossip, and forgetting about time for a few moments to concentrate on the flavor of the coffee and on the quality of your company.

Nigeria: ‘ubuntu’

Happiness: ‘ubuntu’ Peace Revolution
Nigeria: ‘ubuntu’

The word ubuntu is taken from the Zulu phrase ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’, which is the idea that a person only exists and thrives through community. If you are open and affirming to your neighbours, you can acknowledge your part in society and strengthen yourself by strengthening others.

Next time you find yourself in need of something extra to brighten up your day, remember these nine things that make people happy around the world.

Source

Shinrin Yoku (2017). Take a walk in the forest. shinrin-yoku.org
James, M. (2011). The Hawaiian Secret of Forgiveness. psychologytoday.com
Gelter, H. (1999). Friluftsliv: The Scandinavian Philosophy of Outdoor Life. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 5, Summer 2000
Whiteoak, J. (2007). Making ‘Gemutlichkeit’: Antecedents of ‘Bavarian-style’ Musical Entertainment. search.informit.com.au
Willis, S. (2017). Siesta. msu.edu
Trigg, R. (2017). The aperitif: All you need to know about France’s ‘evening prayer’. thelocal.fr
Smith, J. (1988). More Than a Drink : Yerba Mate: Argentina’s Cultural Rite. latimes.com
McKirdy, C. (2016). How to Drink Yerba Mate in South America. vice.com
Thomas, O. (2010). Cultural encounters in Istanbul. bbc.com
Sarajevo Times (2016). Drinking of Coffee in BiH: A Ritual that is much more than plain Need for a Drink. sarajevotimes.com
Kimmerle, H. (2012). Ubuntu and Communalism in African Philosophy and Art. rozenbergquarterly.com
Ifejika, N. (2006). What does ubuntu really mean? theguardian.com

Illustrations: NeoMam Studios

How to Be Mindful in Technological Age?

mindful technology

It’s a quiet room. You’re alone, seated on a low cushion. Sunlight pours in through the window, and you can feel the warmth on your face as you close your eyes. Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, listen for the sound of air passing through your nostrils. Sit empty for a moment before you breathe again.

Your phone buzzes on the floor besides you.

Don’t think about the phone. It’s probably nothing. Come back to your breath. The phone vibrates again. Maybe someone commented on the photo you posted a few minutes ago of the sunlight coming through the window. Don’t think about the phone. Focus on your breath. Maybe it’s your friend getting back to you about dinner tonight. Don’t think about the phone.

It’s not so easy.

With the convenience and availability of modern technology, the desire to stay connected and entertained often overpowers our ability to live fully in the present. However, these same technologies can also have positive effects if we choose to be intentional about how we use them. Here are three examples of disruptive technologies and what you can do to live alongside them in a mindful way.

Smartphones

The proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and computers with access to an endless amount of digital information might seem purely distracting. Once you’ve tuned in to a variety of social media platforms, streaming video services, professional communications, and countless ways to document your life, it can be easy to fall into the trap of constantly feeding on these. A ringtone or vibration from your phone can instantly pull your attention away from face-to-face conversations, meals, driving, sleep, and any semblance of stillness. This is where being intentional can save you.

One strategy for maintaining a healthy relationship with your phone is to designate specific times when you won’t access it. This could include meal times, focused work sessions, and when you’re sleeping. The temptation to stay connected may be too powerful to simply silence your phone and set it nearby. Instead, find a drawer or a box in another room to store your device so you won’t have to look at it and wonder what you’re missing. Another approach is to install an app that monitors how much time you spend on your phone. Some of these allow you to set limits and will alert you when you’re close to reaching your daily maximum.

Video Games

Video games may seem to embody the opposite of mindfulness. However, some groups have developed new ways of using these to promote mindful, productive behavior. For example, the International Committee of the Red Cross teamed up with video game developers to create realistic training modules for health care providers preparing to enter conflict zones. In more domestic settings, educators have begun to incorporate the language and reward systems from video games in their teaching and tutoring methods through a process called gamification. Without including actual gameplay, teachers have found ways to re-envision traditional assignments through the lens of something many of their students find more entertaining.

Those who enjoy video games recreationally can also benefit from reassessing the way they play. For example, setting a specific amount of time to play can keep you from spending an entire evening outside of reality. If you want to use video games as a meditative practice, it can also be helpful to choose games that are inherently soothing. For example, I occasionally play video games with the intention of relaxing, yet within a few minutes I find myself frustrated, yelling at the screen. At this point, I’m more stressed out than when I began, and it’s difficult to stop because I feel I haven’t accomplished anything.

After I recognized this pattern, I started looking for games that wouldn’t trigger so much aggression in me. The creative mode in Minecraft features an open landscape where you can build an infinite amount of things out of different materials. Separate from the main game mode, there’s no conflict and no consequences, just ample space for creativity. This might sound boring, but for me, part of being intentional about gaming means choosing to play a game that will actually help me relax.

Artificial Light

Even one of our most essential technologies, artificial light, can have serious disruptive effects. Excess light pollution emitted from populated areas can negatively affect local wildlife by disorienting animals that depend on light from the sun and stars for navigation. And while it can be disheartening when you can’t see the stars beyond the glow of bigger cities, artificial light has negative effects on our health as well. The light we depend on to brighten our homes, streets, shops, TVs, computers, and phones throws off our natural circadian rhythms, which leads to insomnia and daytime fatigue.

The best way to combat the ill effects of artificial light is to limit your exposure after dark. This includes restricting the time spent on your phone or watching TV before bed. And though you shouldn’t be expected to walk around in the pitch dark in your own home, turning on a low, warm lamp in the evenings can decrease the energizing effects of artificial light.

We need to be careful about how we use today’s technologies, though not all technology is inherently bad for our mental states. Entire industries have risen with the goal of aiding our efforts to look inward and reach a more natural, peaceful state of mind. If you have trouble finding still moments in your life, you could try a number of apps that lead users through simple daily meditations. And essential oil diffusers, white noise machines, and Himalayan rock salt lamps can have a drastic effect on the ambience of a room.