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How To Experiment With Mindful Living – Part 2

In the first part of this post, I offered some ways to reduce chronic busy-ness, so that you can begin to live more mindfully.  At first, this can feel like there’s whole lot we’re making ourselves give up.

But in my experience, there’s no point subjecting yourself to extreme deprivation, or being so all-or-nothing that you get more stressed, not less so. You might challenge yourself to reduce something, and in doing so discover that it does add value to your life (though you may also find that what you enjoy changes as you become more mindful).

This journey can be about choosing what you want to keep, and learning what ‘just enough’ of something looks like. Or you might discover a habit you want to let go of as part of your ongoing mindfulness journey (that kind of change can take time, especially if the habit functions to protect you from uncomfortable emotions).

Real change is gradual, and rushing it can be counterproductive, but doing a playful exploration can have surprising outcomes that are well worth a few failed experiments.

Here are a few more ideas to try out living more mindfully, with a focus on reconnecting with the world around you, which is known to boost well being.

Reviewing Consumption 

We’re constantly consuming – food, products and information. Decluttering is having a bit of a moment, but I suspect it’s more than just a shallow trend, and possibly the beginning of a wide-spread rejection of the mindless over-consumption that’s become the norm for so many of us.  These are some ways to investigate consumption habits.

  • Liberate some space in your home, so that you can live more intentionally.  The best decluttering method I’ve come across are the daily 10-minute declutter, starting with what feels easiest.  This is a practice that cultivates the key mindfulness skill of letting go.
  • Get choosy about digital consumption: notice the impact that different streams of input have on you, then make an informed choice to keep the ones that feel uplifting or inspiring, and limit the ones that make you feel drained, inadequate or unsettled.
  • Practice slow shopping as a step towards less buying.  Online options made my own ‘fast shopping’ habit all too easy.  To slow myself down, I shop around more, look for local suppliers, and only buy things I really need.  Whereas convenience can encourage mindless shopping, having to wait for something seems to make me appreciate the things I’ve bought much more.

Increasing Creativity 

  • Do something with your hands – this brings you into the body, and things like gardening, baking, knitting or art can increase a feeling of connection with the earth and its resources. Many people have discovered that these kind of activities can be a valuable positive resource to help let go of mental ‘doing’ like rumination or catastrophising.
  • Learn a new skill – if creation is the opposite of consumption, it can be liberating not to feel so reliant on the consumer industry.  I definitely wasn’t the handy type before I discovered mindful living, and I used be convinced that I’d never feel tempted to take up things like baking or knitting.  But having slowed down the pace of life in general, I’ve discovered the patience to learn, and I genuinely get so much pleasure out of the things I can make myself now.

Reducing Waste

Like many people, more awareness of the world around me has led to me wanting to send less waste to landfill (though I’m not quite a zero-waster – my bin is definitely bigger than a jam jar!).  And I’ve discovered there are some suprising up-sides to this approach.

  • Shop mindfully: this may feel more inconvenient at first, if it involves choosing alternative suppliers and packaging options.  But I’ve actually found that this way of shopping has simplified things and made me feel really good.  I feel much more connected to the products I’m consuming, and to the people I buy them from.  I don’t tend to ‘over-buy’, I throw away far less unused produce, and enjoy my food much more.  I’ve become more creative with cooking, to use up all of what I have, and this actually makes meal planning easier.
  • Take a break from buying: last month, I chose not to buy anything apart from food, travel & services.  I was pleased to discover that all the items I would normally have bought I could actually find for free (it’s amazing what you might already have in the house, or at your local library). This was enormously satisfying, not least for the money I saved by not auto-buying.

Getting outside more

Studies have shown that connecting with nature makes us healthier and happier. An urban life doesn’t have to mean becoming disconnected from the world that we are part of.  These are a few ways to increase that connection:

  • take a cup of tea into the garden
  • walk or cycle to the local shops, instead of driving
  • visit a local wildlife spot like a park, common, pond, or river
  • meditate outside (even if it’s just lying on the grass for a little while)
  • take up gardening, or just learn more about the plants and creatures in your garden
  • open the window, or even just look out of it more often, especially if you need a screen break
  • bring the outside in, with flowers, a fish tank, or a nature table

Resources

If these ideas have given you a taste of mindful living, here are some resources to help you take it further:

A Simpler Way from Happen Films

‘Anti-Consumerism’, a podcast on shopping mindfully from Practically Zero Waste

Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things

Thrive With Less documentary

LifeEdited: Building A Less But Better Digital Lifestyle Ted Talk

Zero Waste Home – Bea Johnson has some inspiring tips for sending less to landfill.

Nourishing Minimalism – I found some of the tips on this site useful for simplifying home life.

In the Stockport/Heatons area we’re lucky enough to have this low waste shop  You might have something similar where you live.

For tailored support on your own mindful living journey, check out my coaching programme.  The sessions take place by Skype, and some of the themes include letting go of habits and developing positive resources.

If you live near Heaton Moor (South Manchester), you might be interested my mindful living workshops.

I also share additional resources on Twitter as I discover them.

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