The power of the pause

If you’re yearning for more presence in your life, here are 10 different
ways to find stillness through meditation and mindfulness.

In a world in which you can feel like you’re being pulled in a thousand different directions, stillness is the key to clarity, productivity and greater fulfilment. When you carve out space to turn down the noise, not only do you boost creativity, you can also improve your sleep, feel more at ease and become more optimistic. Broken down into two sections — slow down and get still — here are 10 ways to cultivate stillness through meditation and mindfulness.

Slow down

01 Nature hang
Biophilia is a term often used to describe the healing power of nature. There’s nothing quite like a date with nature to help you slow down, restore and clear your head.

02 Cook with love
With the right preparation and plenty of time, you can make cooking not only enjoyable, but also a great way to slow down and put intention behind what you’re doing. Taste the difference.

03 Moving meditation
This is good preparation for seated meditation and for days when the head noise (aka “monkey mind”) feels too much. Complete four or five sun salutes (or any other flowing movements if you’re not familiar with yoga) and get lost in the sound of your breath and the sensations you feel.

04 Power down
Try turning off all of your devices one hour before going to bed. Research has shown that screen time before bed affects both your ability to fall asleep as well as your quality of sleep. But what to do instead? Find a quiet space to journal anything unprocessed from the day or try one of the suggestions from the stillness practices.

05 Take silence
When I lived alone (and before baby), I used to do this every Sunday morning. From the moment I’d wake until lunchtime, I wouldn’t look at devices nor talk unnecessarily. Instead I’d walk, practise yoga, meditate or simply lay back and restore. At first, it can feel strange but after some time, it becomes so, so sweet. Even just start with two hours one day and then stretch it out another.

Get still

06 Meditation
A complete game changer, meditation is medicine. It is such a shame when I hear people have given up meditating because they can’t quieten their mind. Can I tell you a secret? No one really quietens his or her mind completely. The idea is that you notice the “noise” (mind chatter) and then practise stepping back from it, either through an anchor in the body, breath or a mantra. The more you bring yourself back to the present moment, the more frequently you can experience gaps between your thoughts.

07 Rest in reclined butterfly pose
Take five minutes to lie down, bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees knock out to the sides and towards the Earth. Place one hand on your abdomen and the other just above so that you can simply tune into the rhythm of your breath.

08 Watch the sunrise
Witnessing the beauty in nature is one of the best ways to feel deeply connected to yourself, to your surrounds and to others. Watch the sun come up and drink in its healing gentle morning light.

09 Conscious connection
When was the last time you had a completely connected conversation with someone without checking your phone, wishing you were doing something else, working to some degree or without it being somehow productive? It’s amazing what you learn about someone when you take the time to get still enough to really listen. Lean in — this person in front of you could be one of your greatest teachers.

10 Breathe
Taking just 60 seconds to breathe slowly (not necessarily deeply) will have a profound effect on your state. Small act, huge results. Choose times of the day at which you make this a regular ritual so that after some time, it becomes second nature. Your breath is a portal to presence and a totally underutilised tool for overall mental and physical health.