Practicing mindfulness is a great way to diminish stress, which is a constant for just about everyone. But many people find it difficult to focus on the present, which is something that mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn (an MIT graduate who has been involved with the practice for over 45 years) says is essential. He says mindfulness is about thinking “Oh yeah, brand new day and I’m still alive!” and going about the day with awareness.
So, how can you—in this multi-tasking world of ours—practice mindfulness? Here are five easy ways to find inner peace and be alone with your thoughts.
1. Start slow, grasp the true essence of mindfulness
First, get rid of the assumption that you must be some kind of Zen master or assume a certain position when the moon and your astrological sign are in synch. Practicing mindfulness is nothing like that. It is simply about focusing on one thing at a time, free of the distracting thoughts that typically plague your mind. Kabat-Zinn says, “When you’re walking, just walk. When you’re eating, just eat. Not in front of the TV, not with the newspaper.”
So, take time for self-reflection and ask yourself: am I texting while “watching” television? Am I scrolling through Facebook while I have my mom on speakerphone? If you are, you aren’t honing in on thing at a time. By physically removing all that clutters and distracts you from the one main thing that you are attempting to do, you can devote all of your thoughts to moments as they occur (rather than living in anticipation of what’s coming next or considering what happened in the past).
2. Take a simple walk
Walking is a great way to clear the mind, especially if you refrain from listening to music or using your phone. Enjoy the scenery. Look all around, even up at the sky or at the pavement beneath your feet. Think only of what you are doing, not about what you need to add to the grocery list or your child’s upcoming school project. Take everything in, allowing yourself to embrace what you otherwise don’t (when you’re caught up in the inner rumblings of your mind).
Walking need not involve hitting the gym or being active for an hour. Buddhist author and teacher John Ciancosi explains that such focus can be accomplished while walking in short bursts of time, even from just the car to the office: “If you can learn to establish awareness during walking meditation—when you are physically moving with your eyes open—then it won’t be difficult to arouse that same wakeful quality during other activities… and your meditation will begin to permeate your entire life.”
So try going for a walk, whether it’s a short stroll up and down your street, around your workplace or in a local park.
Must Read: 5 Mistakes to Avoid During Walking Exercise
That’s right, sit. How easy is that? Kabat-Zinn says “Sit down and take a minute to just be here. Stop, breathe, and feel. Let the past be over and done with, and let what has not yet happened to be off in the future.” He notes you may feel as though you’ve been sitting a long time when in fact you’ve only been sitting for a few minutes, but this is normal. He says, “This practice is about feeling where you are right now. Just give yourself three minutes to feel your body and mind. The goal isn’t to have any particular experience, but rather to check in on how it really is to be you.”
4. Observe your immediate surroundings
Eden Kozlowski (founder and CEO of Just Be, LLC) wrote about mindfulness as it pertains to truckers. How can they, she wondered, practice mindfulness when they are always on the road? You can take some tips from her suggestions for truckers by observing life around you wherever you are. “You don’t need incense, an exotic location or to be transported to some elevated state of being. Your truck can be your sanctuary,” she explains.
So, if you’re a trucker, notice the scenery as you drive. If you’re in an office all day, look at the plant on your desk and observe details such as new growth or the intricate designs in the leaves. You’ll find yourself achieving a state of relaxation by being more mindful of the everyday surroundings you probably rarely notice in the first place.
Resist the urge to use shower time as an opportunity to ponder some family conflict or rehearse a presentation. Instead, focus on your shower and nothing more. Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. even wrote a brief post titled, “Turn on Your Shower and Reduce Your Stress Today.” She says that showers are an easy way to engage in mindfulness. “Habitual rumination on regrets into the past will sap your energy and open the doors for a barrage of self-judgment that will keep you from living the life you want,” she cautions.
So, she encourages shower mindfulness, rhetorically asking, “What would happen if instead of thinking about all the plans you had to catch up on while you were in the shower, you took a pause, and then brought your nose to the smell of the soap…and again, just exploring the scent of it with your nose…?”
Resist the “more is more” mindset and instead focus on these easy ways to practice mindfulness, all of which you can do from the comfort of your own home and personal space.
Birthday Gift Ideas for Nieces From Aunts
As young girls grow, it is important for them to have positive female role models. Mothers and grandmothers are perhaps the most important, but not far behind are the aunts, whether adopted or biological. One of the fun parts of being an aunt is spoiling your niece on her birthday, and there are lots of ways to do so.
Although kids love to unwrap presents, something they may love just as much or more is spending quality time with you. Take your niece on a special outing with just the two of you. A trip to the aquarium, zoo or amusement park could be a wonderful experience for both of you. Include a stop for lunch or ice cream and just about all her dreams will have come true by the end of the day.
Start a Collection
Collectibles are a great way to start a fun tradition with your niece. She will love getting a new addition to her precious moments princess train set or a new purse every year for her birthday. Even though she may come to expect a certain type of gift, she can still look forward to adding something special to her collection.
Remember Her Interests
Keep in mind what your niece is interested in. Does she love science, books or art? Try and find something that will help foster her interests and you may just watch her confidence grow along with her talents. As she gets older, these interests will change, but she will always remember her first science kit or that series of novels that her aunt introduced her to.
There are lots of ways to be a good aunt, not the least of which is spoiling your precious niece for her birthday. Choose a gift that shows her just how special she is. These gifts and experiences make wonderful memories that she can treasure for her whole life.
Basic Camera Care All Photographers Should Learn
Whether you are a seasoned business portrait photographer with several years of experience tucked under your belt, or just a newbie who has started dipping his toe in the hobby, one of the critical lessons that you need to learn and master by heart is camera care.
Knowing how to care for your camera correctly will not only allow you to take care of your investment. Proper attention can also ensure that your gear performs optimally, enabling you to make the most out of it, whether for business or fun.
Store Your Gear Correctly
Dust, moisture, and sunlight are the greatest enemies of your photography gear. This should be your guiding principle when storing your equipment.
Cameras and batteries are best placed in a cool area where any temperature fluctuation should be minimal. High temperatures can damage your camera’s central processing unit and sensor, while cold temperatures can pose serious harm to its LCD.
Make sure that your camera’s storage area is well-ventilated with a humidity of around 35 to 45 percent. Excessive humidity, coupled with moisture, will only invite mildew and rust. Extreme dryness, on the other hand, adversely affects the lubrication of different parts which can fast-track wear and tear.
Whether you are storing your camera and lenses in a box or a bag, put some silica gel inside to counter moisture.
Invest in a Good Camera Bag
An essential aspect of caring for your camera is using a camera bag.
Most cameras are susceptible to dust and scratches which can be easily avoided by storing them in a proper bag. Furthermore, water-resistant bags can shield your precious gear from rain.
Make it a Habit to Turn Off Your Camera
Turning off your camera allows you to conserve the power of your batteries and increase the overall lifespan of these.
But more than conserving battery juice, there is another reason to turn off your camera’s power – to protect it from damage.
Avoid leaving batteries inside your camera as much as possible, especially if you are storing your camera for an extended period. Batteries can corrode when stored in a moist area or if left completely drained off.
Whether you are changing your lenses or removing the memory card or attached cables, make it a habit to turn off the camera first. Changing lenses when the camera is still turned on increases the risk of dust getting into the sensor. On the other hand, there is a significant chance that you can damage your memory card by pulling it off from the camera when it is still running.
Clean Your Gear Right
First things first – before you schedule a cleanup for your camera, make sure that you have a special cleaning kit on hand. Under no circumstance should you touch your camera with ordinary household cleaning materials.
Go to a reputable camera shop and invest in a few brushes, a microfiber cloth, and specialized cleaning solutions.
Don’t waste your money on canned air. You might see a few people cleaning their gear with it, but you can seriously damage your camera and its accessories if you insist on using it.
Canned air contains chemicals which are harmful to your equipment. Instead of canned air, consider using a brush or a squeeze bulb for hard-to-reach areas.
Protect Your Lenses
It is relatively easy to damage lenses. And unless you are willing to cough up money over and over again, it is sensible to invest in lens protection.
A simple filter can prevent breakage, cracks, dents, and scratches. Additionally, filters offer a variety of uses, depending on the type you get, ranging from glare reduction to reduction of shutter speed.
Care for Your Memory Card
Memory cards are a vital item of photography gear that can be easily overlooked. If you want to get more out of your memory cards, you need to learn how to care for these properly.
First, invest in a protective case which will help keep your memory cards dust-free. Second, do not expose the cards to heat. Place these in a cool, dry place. Finally, never put your memory cards near magnetic sources.
Camera care is an essential skill that anyone can and should learn, whether you are a hobbyist or a professional photographer. From a financial standpoint, this vital skill can help you save a lot of money. And from a functional perspective, keeping your gear in good order can help your equipment perform optimally.
AUTHOR BIO: Stefanie Descheemaecker is the Studio Manager at Stu Williamson Photography at The Palm Jumeirah – Fairmont Hotel in Dubai. She has been with the company for almost 3 years and is the driving force behind the success of the business. A keen amateur photographer, Stef combines her natural creative eye with a strong business acumen to help Stu Williamson Photography become the most trusted and successful photography business in the UAE.
How To Get In Shape While On Holiday
Vacation. This is a word that can mean so many different things. Some people consider vacation as a time away from all the hassles of their daily work. Others look at it as a way to break away from routine and there are also those who just want to use up their vacation leave. Whatever your purpose is on your next holiday, there is one important thing that you need to make plans for – your fitness regimen.
Shopping – A Great Form of Exercise
Since a huge chunk of every vacation is one’s shopping spree, then you might as well use this opportunity to stay fit. Imagine walking all over the different malls that you can find. To add to this, you also get to carry the things that you buy so this is an effective way to work off on self-indulgence.
Do not just buy the first items that you find. Ask around first so that you get to find the best bargains on athleisure while you also spend more time (and more energy) going from one shop to the next. Also, make it a point not to use elevators or escalators, utilize the stairs so that you will burn more calories.
Utilize the Hotel Gym / Boot Camp It
Yet another part of any holiday is the need to stay in a hotel. Most hotels now have indoor gyms so it would be a waste if you do not use the exercise equipment there. Being on vacation is no excuse to stop your exercise regimen. What you need, though, is your strongest willpower and an activewear. Have the determination to continue exercising and you will surely reap the benefits later on.
Another fun way to get into shape is to go to a bootcamp. These prove to be a super fun way to burn excess pounds, test your body’s limits, and learn new and positive habits. Imagine how much better you’ll feel in that bikini after you’ve been sweating it out in a boot camp!
Pack Some Exercise Essentials
If it is impossible to hit the gym during your vacation, then you might as well take any of these with you – light weights, exercise band or a jump rope. Toning your muscles isn’t all about sweating in the gym. Sometimes, you just need to be disciplined enough to exercise on your own and make do with your packed resources while vacationing.
Steer Clear of Some Foods
One other thing that is equated to vacation is food, especially if this is your first time to visit a certain place. For instance, if it is your first time to go to Germany, you might be instantly tempted to try their different types of beers and fattening cuisine. If you do not curb your urges, you could end up trying every bit of food that you could lay your eyes on – and this is not good for your figure.
The secret is to try one, unique meal at a time and then to couple this with your usual fruits and vegetables; this way, you maintain your healthy diet while still getting to taste exotic cuisine.
Swim That Body Fat Away
If your destination for your holiday vacation is a beach resort, then make good use of the resource that you have right in front of you – the rolling waters! Swimming is an activity that can help you trim down while keeping your heart healthy – technically, you are hitting two birds with one stone. If your vacation does not involve any water activities, then plan for a lot of walking. Rather than ride a cab, it is best to walk and enjoy the scenery or architectural wonders around you. Tuck that pedometer and you’re just about ready to walk around a city!