Not being the best of meditators, we rely on Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh to gently guide us in mindfulness practice, which, he points out, you can do anywhere, anytime: washing the dishes, walking, cleaning the house, listening to a friend. In The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation, he outlines more than 30 simple exercises of mindfulness. Here is the first and our favorite, (since we are big fans of signs and reminders):
Hang a branch, any other sign, or even the word “smile” on the ceiling or wall so that you see it right away when you open your eyes. This sign will serve as your reminder. Use these seconds before you get out of bed to take hold of your breath. Inhale and exhale three breaths gently while maintaining the half smile. Follow the breaths.
The sign could be anything. We chose a birch branch we found while wandering around outdoors. A simple push pin and some thin twine became the quick mechanism for hanging it on the wall. It’s the first thing we see when we open our eyes in the morning…
It works! As we start to wake, we see the branch and remember Thich Nhat Hanh’s practice. It only takes a few seconds to start the day on a really lovely note.