It sounds so simple that it is easy to dismiss, but learning the art of being mindful will completely reshape your reality.
So what does that mean?
Our modern lives often feel like a stress-saturated air raid drill that includes fierce competition for extremely limited resources. This environment creates a mindset that keeps us running from one emergency to the next and promotes unexamined emotional reactions in the name of expediency. It can be incredibly difficult to access your talents, recognize either your own strengths and weaknesses or those of others, or even accurately perceive what is happening around you without learning to observe, consider, and evaluate.
You cannot learn to create or observe magick in the midst of a mad dash for survival.
The development of a “magical lens” requires mindfulness. If your goal is to observe and create magic in your life, you will have to break out of the mold. The first step to the extraordinary is learning to perceive things as they actually are.
Mindfulness is becoming present and aware of yourself and how you are impacting your environment. This is nearly the opposite of what most of us were socialized to do. Multitasking, background noise, and packed schedules are absolutely commonplace. But, they just keep us distracted and running on autopilot; trapped in a work, eat, sleep cycle that robs us of our ability to perceive magic.
When we are mindful, everything we do becomes purposeful. Instead of running through life in a goal oriented fog, we take the time to engage our senses and observe our environment. In order to practice mindfulness, you must slow down and pay attention to your own body.
One exercise I created to help you to get started is Feeling Feelings.
This exercise is designed to teach you how to notice and successfully interpret important signals from your body. The more often you practice this exercise, the more quickly you will integrate the process and begin to recognize your body’s signals in your day-to-day life.
To begin, find a private place where you will not be disturbed for at least 10 minutes. Take a glass of cold water with you. Start off by taking a few deep cleansing breaths. Bring your awareness to the sensation of your breath moving in through your nostrils and traveling down into your lungs. Notice the way it feels when your lungs expand. Hold at fully expanded lungs for a moment and just sit with the sensations. Now notice the sensation of your exhalation. Feel your lungs deflate and the sensation of your breath as it flows out of your mouth. How do your lips feel? Your tongue?
Continue to pay attention to the physical sensations as you breathe in through your nose, hold at full lung expansion, and breathe out through your mouth and hold for a moment, noticing how you feel completely deflated. Pay attention to your diaphragm and how it rises and falls.
You are now tuned in to your body and ready to observe emotions in your body.
Call to mind a memory that makes you really mad. Allow yourself to fill with that anger. Now observe your body. Do you notice tightness anywhere? Perhaps in your throat or stomach? Do you notice cold or hot anywhere in your body? Are you clenching your hands or your jaw? Make note of as many sensations as you can.
After about two minutes of sitting with anger, thank your body for all of the information it has provided you. Make notes in your journal about all of the sensations you experienced in this exercise.
Drink the glass of water you brought with you and repeat this exercise but instead of using a memory that makes you angry, this time call to mind a memory that makes you feel grateful. After about two minutes of sitting in gratitude and noticing it’s sensations in your body, you should be back to baseline emotionally.
On another day, repeat this exercise with different emotions.
You may find it helpful to keep a journal with notes about what you learn while doing these exercises. It will be easier to remember what you have learned if you write it down. Over time, you will learn to recognize how your emotions feel in your body. Then, you can begin to check in with your body in order to understand your emotional state. This will level up your whole life.
The act of creating is foundational to unlocking magic in your life. So many of us are afraid to even try creative pursuits like painting, sculpting, or writing because we have bought into the idea that making art must make money or it is a waste of time. This kind of thinking inhibits our imagination and completely robs us of our ability to explore the creative process.
I created the following exercise to help you break out of this box without having to invest in art supplies. I highly recommend investing in yourself by trying your hand at different creative endeavors like wire wrapping, wood-burning, or any other creative pursuit that calls to you. In the meantime, this exercise can help get the creative juices flowing.
5 New Ways
I recommend adding this exercise into your life every day. It helps to train your brain to be more flexible and creative. It’s very easy, can be done anywhere, and only takes about 5 minutes.
To begin, take a few deep breaths and become present with your body. Just like in the previous exercise, begin by inhaling and feel each breath as you hold, then exhale through your mouth. Once you are tuned in to your body, take a look around you. Choose any object. Think about how this object is usually used.
Now come up with 5 new ways to use that object.
For example, you might choose a pencil, thinking of its normal usage as a writing utensil. But as you sit mindfully examining this object, purposely allowing your mind to expand and explore new creative uses for it, you begin to shape novel ideas. Perhaps it could be used as a pillar or landmark in a 3D map model, or a whimsical character in a theater of inanimate objects. It’s sturdy construction could be the post of a small homemade sign tucked into a flower pot, or it could be affixed upright as the perfect hairband holder. Perhaps its function as a tool can be altered, like using it to punch holes in paper or other materials as part of a larger multimedia craft project. With relaxed, intentional mindfulness, creativity begins to flow and those 5 new ideas are only practice, only the beginning.
When you are done, take a few more deep cleansing breaths and write down the object you chose in your journal along with its new uses.
Teaching yourself to think outside the box helps you to see the magic all around you all of the time. It also helps you to consider multiple perspectives when evaluating your life. This is an important step in developing a “magic lens.”
When you begin doing these exercises it can feel a little silly. Stick with it anyway. Repetition is what will teach you to bring mindfulness into your daily life. Give yourself permission to spend some time every day simply existing and making note of the information provided to you by your 5 senses. Although it is incredibly important, it doesn’t involve a huge time commitment or rearranging your schedule. The important piece is creating a habit of being mindful.
This work trains you to navigate your reality in a brand new way.