The Art of the Pause: 8 Easy Ways to Live More Mindfully Every Day
How to build restorative moments of mindfulness throughout your day
Mindfulness is very much a part of all good art. Artists have their white space. Musicians take a deliberate rest. Writers and actors practice the dramatic pause. These techniques allow the creative to express their art in a more thoughtful way. What if we were to take the same kind of breaks in our everyday lives? Taking the time to pause allows you to settle your mind—and step away from the mindless daily hamster cycle of craving and reward. It also gives us the opportunity to check in so we can go about our day in a more mindful way. Once you incorporate this practice into your daily routine, your workday, relationships and family life will feel more meaningful and less frenetic.
So how exactly do you plan a restorative pause? Ayurvedic lifestyle educator and wellness consultant Alison Kleinert explains 8 easy ways to recharge.
1. Set a daily intention
Knowing what you want in your life and creating a daily practice to speak it, feel it and think it can be very powerful. Intentions are not to be confused with action-oriented goals, like “get a new job” or “lose 5 pounds.” They are more about feelings and values. Think of them as guiding principles for how you want to live your life on any given day (i.e. “I intend to be present,” or “I intend to relax”). Once you determine your intention, set a timer for 11 minutes each day and simply recite it like mantra using a bracelet, a candle or any other sacred object to focus your attention.
2. Give Yourself A Daily Massage
A daily oil massage is an important part of any Ayurvedic daily routine. In addition to its relaxation benefits, it hydrates skin and stimulates the lymphatic system, boosting circulation and strengthening your immune system. For optimal benefit, apply the oils after you shower while your skin is still damp, starting at the feet and working towards the heart. You can use coconut, grapeseed or almond oil with a few drops of your favorite essential oil (lavender, rose, chamomile and ylang-ylang help relieve anxiety; for a more energizing effect, try bergamot or grapefruit). For a real treat, splurge on UMA Anti-Aging Body Oils—their light but intoxicating scent will stay with you all day.
3. Eat More Mindfully
An Ayurvedic diet teaches you that it’s not what you eat, it’s what you digest. Of course, in order to do that properly, you need to be present with your food. Take the time everyday to sit down and savor the tastes, aroma, texture and colors of your food. Try not to eat at your desk or have stressful conversations during meals. It doesn’t matter if you are eating alone with others; go the extra mile to make your food look and taste as appetizing as possible, then give yourself permission to really enjoy it on every sensory level. To learn more about mindful eating, check out The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health, $9.35, amazon.com If you live in or around NYC, you can also sign up for Rooted Violet’s conscious cooking class, in which you will learn how to make a series of delicious summer recipes with healing spices.
4. Get outside!
The Japanese art of “Forest bathing” is all the rage and here’s why: Studies show spending time outdoors reduces stress, improves short term memory and concentration, enhances creativity and—our personal favorite—elicits feelings of “awe.” Obviously, everyone can’t afford to take a two-hour hike through the wilderness everyday but a short, 5-10 minute walk outside? Most people, even city dwellers, can manage that. Whether you are walking your dog, or even taking your child to school, try to take a few extra minutes to literally stop and smell the peonies. If you work at home, consider moving your office outdoors to a nearby park for a couple hours. Stuck in a windowless office? Consider revamping your walls. Studies show even simply looking at quiet pictures of nature can reduce stress. I defy you to look at this Forest of the Morning Sunrise wall decal and not feel the cortisol seep out of your body.
Two hours before you go to sleep, make a ritual out of taking a warm (not hot) bath. A 20-30 minute soak raises your internal body temperature a few degrees; as your body cools down afterward, the quick drop tells your body it’s time to go to sleep. To enhance the soporific effect, light a candle, put on some gentle meditation music and pour in some calming bath salts (we love Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Himalayan Bath Salts, $70, amazon.com). Just be careful the heady scent doesn’t put you to sleep while you’re still in the bath!
The calming effects of chamomile tea (not to mention valerian root) are well documented. But one herb with which you may not be as familiar? Ashawagandha, $13, amazon.com. This Ayurvedic herb helps reduce stress and fatigue. Add it to Sweet Rose Tulsi tea with steamed milk and a drop of liquid butterscotch stevia for a calming bedtime drink.
Smythson leather notebook, $75, smythson.com
7. Write in a Daily Journal
Journaling is a great tool to help you stay more mindful. Even just taking five minutes a day to record and process your thoughts can help clear the mental static and focus your awareness. If the thought of writing everyday seems intimidating, give yourself a simple assignment. Start by writing down 5 things each night for which you are grateful. This practice will help you find and celebrate the beauty in your everyday.
Here’s a tip: Don’t wait until you are falling asleep in front of Odd Mom Out (coming back to Bravo on Wednesday, July 12, woot! woot!) before thinking about washing your face. Make it a priority— something you look forward to doing—by scheduling it early enough in the evening that you take the time to enjoy the process on every sensory level. Think about the smell and feel of your cleanser, the warmth of the water. Choose products with scents that trigger feelings of relaxation and well being. We love Mario Bedescu Cucumber Cleansing Cream ($12) for its luxurious creamy feel and refreshing cucumber scent. Here are a few other beauty products that will elevate your night time routine:
- Blithe Anti-Polluaging Himalayan Pink Salt Cleansing Water ($36, glowrecipe.com) This light, non-greasy micellar water removes even the most stubborn waterproof eye makeup in seconds—no pulling or scrubbing required.
- Sapelo Skincare Springtide Serum ($195, sapeloskincare.com): This lightweight serum is made with rejuvenating salmon egg extract but doesn’t smell fishy at all.
- Kat Rudu Botanical Flower Mist ($42, katrudu.com): Spray this hydrating blend of chamomile and rose onto skin before moisturizer.
- Crème de la Mer The Moisturizing Gel Crème ($310, nordstrom.com): A lightweight iteration of the cult cream, this decadent gel has the same famously rejuvenating miracle broth but none of the heaviness of the original. It absorbs into skin instantly, leaving it plump and dewy, as opposed to sticky. Bonus: It’s light enough to wear under makeup during the day, which makes the price tag a little easier to swallow.