We all need a simple daily practice to get us through lockdown – here’s how to find one that works for you
24th Apr 2020
It’s time to carve out 10 minutes a day for a simple, soul-soothing daily practice, writes Niamh Ennis
I’m not reacting well to being told what I should and shouldn’t do during this enforced period of lockdown.
Now, I must declare that I am utterly compliant on all government directions, but feel that’s as far as I am prepared to go with being told what to do.
I’m definitely not going to do a ‘Couch to 5k in a week’, nor am I going to learn Mandarin by the end of this month! But I will admit to having succumbed to a few of the more common ways of passing this extra time we have at home.
I am now a baker. I have made three banana breads and one Easter cake. All delicious. I know this because I ate three quarters of each of them! It took this to remind me why it was that I had not baked before, which is this: I knew if I did I would eat them. I was right.
I am now also a gardener, albeit, a passive one. My husband has planted beetroot, lettuce, brussel sprouts and potatoes in our back garden. So now we wait. Patiently.
I have an oven I can now use as a mirror, a kitchen drawer that has its own colour coded filing system and a sock drawer that is sparking so much Marie Kondo-inspired joy.
While some of these I admit might seem, well, a little obsessive, I am simply sharing these with you to prove that, whether we admit it or not, we have a little extra time in the day than we normally would have.
And yet I must reiterate that I don’t believe any of us should be told what to do so, please, if this resonates with you, do it, if it doesn’t then that’s fine too.
For me, the idea of a daily practice is quite simply giving yourself permission to slow down
But what I would love would be to see each of you introduce a new daily practice into your lives. For me, the idea of a daily practice is quite simply giving yourself permission to slow down, for your mind to slow down in order to create space and make room for something new to drop in.
Think of your mind like a cluttered press. You are constantly opening it just to stuff more things into it. But what would happen if every day you put a little order on a small piece of it, one shelf at a time, and if during this time you might be tempted to take things out of it, that you know are just using space but are not serving you any more.
In time your press would start to feel and look a lot more organised, more ordered and you would dread going to it less and less.
When you open it now you would even start to feel a sense of freedom and that in itself is intoxicating.
As the days and weeks and months progress there would be infinitely more space in your press and that would allow for new, important, necessary things to reside in your press, even just temporarily.
Your mind is your press. And by creating a daily practice you will be spring cleaning your mind daily.
It is more important now than ever to spend time with ourselves, listening to ourselves, tuning in to what it is that we need right now so that we can learn how to create space and make room for our own thoughts and feelings to rise within us.
So what would this involve?
There are several daily practices that you can choose from. These can vary from journaling, meditations, movement, nature, visualisations, affirmations and gratitude.
The misunderstanding when people think about creating a daily practice is that they aren’t really clear at first WHY they should do this or indeed HOW to do it.
They also buy into the myth that it requires a massive time investment and immediately allow resistance to move in.
So let me quash a few of those beliefs.
You do NOT have to do ALL of those practices I listed above. Select the ones that resonate with you the most and start with them.
For me, journaling and getting out in nature are my two non-negotiables. I journal for a minimum of 30 minutes every single day. I just love it. The days I don’t, I miss it. Some days I just empty the contents of my head onto paper using stream of consciousness journaling and then, other days, I need prompts to get me started.
I have been journaling since I was 6 years of age so it feels very much a part of me.
Since getting a dog three years ago, I now have a reason to get up early and take her to the woods which allows me to indulge in nature and get some mild exercise in, for me and her, making it a win-win situation.
Creating a daily practice does not need to be complicated or time consuming. But what it gives you in return is fairly significant
I also try to meditate for at least 10 minutes each day, some days are easier than others, where I use guided meditations and listen to voices and accents that I know I can relate to.
I have to admit that this is the daily practice I struggle with the most, especially since the beginning of this pandemic! My mind is finding it harder to be silent. But I am not abandoning the practice either. I know this works and so I’m sticking with it.
I have a few affirmations that I will say, or write, each day too. For example, ‘I love money and money loves me’ or ‘I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, everything is always working out perfectly for me’ or ‘I am always doing my best’. I like to use simple, positive statements that mean something to me.
A few times a week I will do short yoga classes, mostly online with www.yogawithadriene.com but some days these might resemble stretching more than yoga! It depends on my mood.
What benefits can you expect?
Creating a daily practice does not need to be complicated or time consuming. But what it gives you in return is fairly significant. It helps you create space in your head and most importantly it begins the process of reconnecting your head with your heart, your thoughts with your feelings, your logic with your intuition.
So many of us live entirely in our heads. It feels safer there. We can plan, control, organise and get things done there in that space.
But the truth is when we move into our hearts, when we open ourselves up to trusting that maybe we don’t need to control everything, maybe we can let go of that insatiable need to always feel like we are managing every detail of our lives, and just release that grip, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day, that we will start to notice our lives will slowly start to feel different.
We might then notice that feeling move from different to better.
So try it. Start small but be consistent. It can also be an idea to keep record if you notice yourself feeling any differently, it will help you track your progress. Please don’t start a practice that you know you just won’t like.
If it doesn’t resonate avoid it. But if you find one that works then keep repeating it. Your mind will most certainly thank you for it! You will feel lighter and it is then that new thoughts and ideas will find the space to drop in.
Remember nothing changes until you do. So maybe, just maybe, this is your time!
Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Transformation Coach www.niamhennis.com, working with women who are adapting to major changes in their lives.
She has just launched Bounce Back – a four-week intensive programme designed to support those who are adapting to career changes, looking to pivot or start their own business.
To find out more and set up a free discovery call click here
Read more: Stop trying to fit in: how to find your authentic voice and embrace your true self
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Read more: I tried yoga for the first time ever during lockdown, and I have some thoughts
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