Have you ever felt that all the self-care practices you knew were too time-consuming to stick to? I have. If you’ve worked with me you know I’ll find you shortcuts for everything: self-massage, meditation, breathing, detox, relaxation. Consistency is key if your self-care is to yield the biggest return on investment over the long-run. That’s why I’m a big believer in keeping it short and sweet for easy integration in daily life.
On that note, I want to share with you about micro-practices. If you thought a 5-minute meditation was short, with micro-practices we’re talking 20-40 seconds top. And there’s actually nothing to practice. Now I know I got you confused. Let me explain. I learned about micro-practices from Daniel Odier, a teacher of Kashmir Shaivism and Tantra. A central aspect of tantric philosophy is to recognize the pulse of Life present in each moment as it is. Our sensorial experiences are used to engage deeper with life, and as such become a gateway for greater aliveness. Micro-practices are not about changing anything you do. It’s about bringing your full presence to whatever you do, wherever you are, however you’re feeling. As easy as this seems, it can be scary. Many of us are accustomed to zipping through life, yet our sense of aliveness is commensurate to our capacity to feel, to take it all in. Once again micro-practices deliver big time. By sprinkling those few seconds of full presence throughout your day you’ll gradually increase your capacity to feel more of your feelings, and consequently more alive.
As stated earlier, micro-practices do not require that you change anything to the way you eat, work, exercise…live. Rather it’s about zooming in on micro-slices of your day and tuning in to that moment very deeply through your senses. For example:
• Here I am sitting on my sofa, writing. I stop. I feel my knees aching…sensation of hunger in my belly…belly expanding and deflating….the weight and warmth of my back resting on the sofa…Back to writing.
• Here you are reading this post. Stop. Feel your whole body…feel where it touches the chair, the floor…sense the space around you, you in that space…Back to reading.
• Sipping on your morning tea/coffee. Stop. Taste the bitterness of it…the smell of it…the warmth of the liquid flowing down your throat…the warmth of the cup in your hands…Now take another sip.
• Power walking to your next appointment. Stand still on a street corner…allow yourself to take in the busy-ness around you…let the multitude of sounds reverberate through you…sense the tightness in your neck…beads of sweat on your forehead…your clenched jaw (unclench?) And off you go.
You may bring the same few seconds of heightened sensory awareness to that moment:
• When you open your eyes in the morning, and before you do anything.
• When placing a piece of dark chocolate in your mouth. Stop! Don’t bite 🙂
• When you’re impatiently waiting for your cash back at the grocery store.
• Just before you go running out the door.
• Between two sets of squats, at the gym.
Micro-practices are a favorite of mine. I tend towards nervousness (hey, did you think I had a passion for helping people de-stress because I was always relaxed? Think again!) and I can tell you micro-practices work wonders to lure a restless mind into the moment. They’re a way to gently infuse more mindfulness into our busy lives. Let me know how they work for you.