Recently, I spent three days with master yogi Judith Hansen Lasater, and she asked us a poignant question as we studied the placement of the physical body in asana - the poses in the yoga practice. She asked, "To what are you giving your full attention?" Great question. Just hearing it and asking it of yourself makes you pay attention.
Long story short, in this asana situation, the presence of mind when placing your body in poses that are unfamiliar is the practice of yoga - quieting the vibrations/whirlings of the mind to be clear, be present, and bring your full attention to a moment because you are just that - present. You are not the pose, the circumstances, the story, the challenges or anything else - you are that.
This is also relevant when poses are familiar, as a longtime practice with repetition can breed boredom and cause your mind to spin off somewhere... like Tahiti.
Okay, okay... I'm back.
Back in the day, I came to yoga for the physical practice. Today, I still love to move, but mantra has become a bigger part of my daily routine. I repeat phrases from the yoga philosophy to shift my energies. Sometimes, I create English translations or original phrases to speak to whatever I'm going through. "I got this" is a regular guest star in my day, encouraging myself to move beyond my limiting beliefs.
Here's a mantra to bring full attention to any moment.
So Hum is a phrase comprised of two Sanskrit words, translated literally in English to "I am that." Going deeper, So Hum can mean, "I am that pure awareness" that we are all connected, and when we trust in the moment, we are supported, nourished, protected, and united exactly as we are, and that is all. This can be very calming, but also focus your mind and sharpen it at the same time.
As Dr. Vasant Lad, master of Ayurveda studies in the U.S. shared, "You will go beyond thought, beyond time and space, beyond cause and effect. Limitations will vanish.”
So Hum can be on the go.
Try to be aware of when your mind goes to Tahiti (or elsewhere) as you rush about your day and try to multi task badly (losing small things, tripping, forgetting where you are, you know what I mean)
Stop right where you are
Inhale - SO - exhale - HUM
So Hum can be a regular practice.
Or, set up even a short amount of time to bring more of this energy in to your life more consistently. The mantra will become less of a life hack and more of a regular practice to cultivate mindfulness long term.
Set a timer for 10 minutes (with a nice, soothing alarm)
Sit quietly and upright so you can breathe well, and take some cleansing breaths
Inhale - SO - exhale - HUM
Repeat this as you sit quietly and synchronize your breath to the mantra over and over
Notice when you're rushing, notice when you've detached and you've gone to Tahiti again - come back to the mantra and the breath
After your timer goes off, sit quietly, breathe normally, and gently open your eyes after a few moments
It's important to remember that this is truly a practice. No need to get it perfect or attach yourself to making it perfect to be a good meditator or an awesome yogi. It's just practice.