As my practice with mindfulness deepened over the years, I came to discover the informal yet deep ways this path can serve my wellbeing, moment to moment. I began to see more quickly patterns of thought and mood more and more easily. Have you ever noticed when your thoughts are negative, they are ‘my thoughts’, I take them as true, as fact, as meaningful. When a dear friend may admit such thoughts, do i believe them to be who they are, true, factual, meaningful? Less likely right?? More on thoughts in another post. For now, I’m sharing a practice that formed for me, and serves me as a way to meet thoughts and moods as they are rather than see them as a ‘fait a complet’ for the day. I realised there was a pattern of daily healthy habits: my mindful 5 a day. They are like a set of conditions that lead me to a path of well being and when one is missing, this can explain, and therefore help me to understand, why I may feel off track, why i may make less helpful, less mindful choices and take more compulsive actions that may not serve me so well.
So when I notice my mood is low and the thoughts that are showing up are only serving to lower the mood further, I have this ‘5 a day’ checklist to go to and see if i met these conditions in the day. If not – it can help me to gain perspective on the thinking – definitely unreliable and not to be believed, fed or followed – and in that way of seeing, the mood shifts and I may also choose to complete the missing link of the day. It may not change the mood drastically, but it may soften the moment and help me through to the next one with more ease, clarity and care.
My 5 a day?
- Sleep. Have I given myself a decent duration of a night’s sleep? How can I rest or nap now? Even for 10 minutes.
- Meditate. Morning meditations set me up for the day: I feel more grounded, stable, connected and ready to greet whatever arises next. Did i make time this morning? If not, when i can practice, if not now, when?
- Eat. We know what we need to have a balanced, nutritious diet. Full-disclosure, I am a sugar-addict, it’s in the genes. I’ve tried it all – zero tolerance, healthy alternatives, denial. Now i question balance – have i given this body more nourishing than not-so nourishing fuel today? How can I bring some balance now? How can I start again tomorrow?
- Move. Bodies are made to move. My work is sedentary, my preference is for quiet time. For years when I my heartrate quickened, I felt I was triggering a panic attack! Now I commit to walking in nature, mindful movement and yoga. So i ask did I practice yoga and walk today? If not, what can i do now? For 30 minutes.
- Connect. Humans are social creatures. As newborns, we need carers to tend to our needs. We thrive in community together. I love solitude but I also love connecting with beings who matter and keep the heart opened. So I ask – did I check with friends or family today and share a conversation? Can I pick up the phone now or message and arrange a visit soon? Can I make some time for being with beloved pets or in nature, connecting with the more-than-human world that surrounds us?
So what is your 5 a day? It may be more or it may be less? What actions and activities do you know serve you well to remember to make time for each day? Share your story …
“The last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you become the plaything to circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity…” – Victor Frankl