This story was contributed by our new wellness columnist, Michelle Calarco.
Living “mindfully” sounds ideal…being present, focusing on our breathing, meditating regularly. (Kind of like…eating healthy all the time, exercising every day, getting endless “me” time…you get the point…) The reality, however, as we all know, is that we’re busy and life (kids?!) doesn’t always (ever?!) allow for ample time for us to focus on all the things we’d like to do to lead a healthy life. While we might not be able to meditate for an hour a day, trying to incorporate even a minute here and there for mindfulness does make a difference. Small changes can have a big impact. Think about a time when you were on your feet the entire day – running around and not getting a break. How incredible did it feel when you finally sat down and gave your body a rest?
That’s what our minds are doing nearly every day…thinking, worrying, planning. When is the last time we gave our minds a breather? Practicing mindfulness is an increasingly important solution to manage our everyday stresses, especially at a time in our lives that continues to challenge us in ways we never thought possible. Studies have shown that meditation has a wide range of health benefits, from reducing anxiety to improving sleep.
So, what are some simple ways we can incorporate mindfulness into our daily lives? We talked to best-selling author and mindfulness expert Mallika Chopra to get some guidance.
As the daughter of a renowned wellness guru, meditation was central to Mallika’s upbringing and is something she has tried to instill the importance of in her two teenage daughters. Plus, as mindfulness consultant for the new Apple TV+ series Stillwater (which teaches children lessons in compassion, kindness and awareness), Malika shares some tips on how to practice mindfulness with our children.
The Well: What does mindfulness mean to you?
Mallika: Mindfulness is being aware of your thoughts, body, and environment. Meditation helps quiet your mind. Our breath serves as an anchor for many mindfulness and meditation techniques – conscious breathing can help you feel more calm and make intentional responses to situations. Ultimately, these techniques help you feel more confident, more empathetic, healthier, happier and purposeful.
The Well: Our lives are so busy that it can be hard to find time and space for self-care, and things like meditation. Is there a simple practice you can recommend that can be incorporated into our routines on a daily basis?
Mallika: I suggest to keep things simple.
Begin with a conscious breath, right now, as you are reading this sentence.
Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out.
Next time, if you have a minute, choose to take three breaths.
Put your attention on your feet and feel how they are grounded on the earth.
Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out.
Put your attention on your heart.
Breathe in. Pause, Breathe out.
Finally, put your attention on the top of your head and feel the space above you, beyond the roof and skies above, and into space and the galaxies.
Take a deep breath in. Pause, Breathe out.
As you get comfortable taking time to breathe and be aware of your body, you can try different techniques like going for a mindful walk where you notice the things around you, or eating more mindfully, savoring the taste of every bite you take. Always anchor yourself back to a deep breath. In. Pause. Out.
The Well: How can we help teach our children about the importance of mindfulness?
Mallika: Before you ask your kids to practice meditation or mindfulness, commit to your own practice. Lead by example, not just words. Do you have a practice that they know you are doing?
In my books – Just Breathe and Just Feel- I share simple practices that my family has used from simple breathing exercises, meditation, movement, and embracing all feelings. In my new book, Just Be You: Ask Questions, Set Intentions, Be Your Special Self and More, my hope is that kids – and the adults in their lives – celebrate their uniqueness as they explore their background, likes and dislikes, and ask questions as they form their identity.
Self-exploration has been a part of wisdom traditions for years – as we rediscover so many of these practices, it should be fun, easy and accessible.
There are wonderful books, but also more entertainment options. I am honored to be a mindfulness consultant for Stillwater, a new, animated series on Apple TV+ based on the popular book, Zen Shorts by Jon Muth,, that teaches children lessons in compassion, kindness and awareness.
Take a Sip…
Local Meditation Offerings:
- Kaia Yoga is offering complimentary virtual meditation sessions. Visit the links below to register:
- Monday-Friday at 6:30am: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_cKLdNuHDQh-tCTzGhD3B6g
- Sunday at 11:10am: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_oIBZQz8zSkSS_FDtEg7gaQ
- The Studio Greenwich incorporates meditation into various classes. 26 and 2 is a moving meditation in which the whole class centers around breath, movement and a clear mind, while Vinyasa kicks off with breathing exercises and ends with additional breath work leading into Shavasana.
- The Salt Cave of Darien offers meditation in its salt cave and salt room which also incorporates salt therapy,, an anti-inflammatory approach to build better breathing, immunity, and reduce stress. Private Sessions are available.
Highly-rated Meditation Apps
About Michelle Calarco: Michelle is a wellness and communications expert. After honing her storytelling craft in media and television, Michelle went on to elevate the profiles of premier brands across the hospitality, healthy living, and better-for-you food spaces. She has always been passionate about living and eating well and became even more immersed in health when she became a mom. On weekends you can find her squeezing in a barre class (during Paw Patrol) and baking healthyish desserts with her little one. Michelle has a consulting business and resides in Greenwich with her husband and 2-year-old son.
Have an idea for something you want to see in the column? Write to Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her @michelle.calarco