Spring Challenge

Welcome Everyone to the 2nd ‘Live Where Your Feet Are’ Challenge!

realize deeply

Living where your feet are is all about having Present Moment Awareness:

Being fully present with what we are doing in this very moment; not getting caught up in our minds worrying about the future or ruminating over the past; simply being with what is and letting it be whatever it is, without judgement.

Easy peasy right??

One of the biggest challenges I face when trying to live in the present is actually remembering to do it!

I’m hoping these challenges will give us practice bringing awareness to the present and help us get into the habit of remembering to do it!

DAY 1 CHALLENGE:

Since the basis of living in the now is being fully present, we are going to start off with being fully present with our base- the breath.

Mindful breathing is a great base; it is something we can always come back to when we catch ourselves on auto pilot or caught up in our minds.

Mindful breathing is going to be a part of most of the challenges to come because it is naturally a part of being present with anything you are doing (since we are always breathing). This is why we are starting our 31 day challenge by practicing it.

So, at some point today, pause for a minute and try to take 5 mindful breaths.

Follow the breath as you inhale and exhale, feel your belly and chest expand. If your mind wanders that’s okay, just notice it and bring your attention back to your breath. Sometimes, especially when just starting out, counting the breath helps keep your attention. 1 on the inhale, 2 on the exhale, and so on. If you already practice mindful breathing, I invite you to up the ante on how many breaths or how long you practice mindful breathing today.


DAY 2 CHALLENGE:

When you’re practicing mindfulness
And you want to have a little fun
What do you do??
You brush your teeth, ch ch ch ch, ch ch ch ch
(Thanks Raffi)

brush teeth

For today’s challenge we are going to try being present while brushing our teeth! To stay present try noticing the taste of the toothpaste, the feel of the brussels on your teeth and tongue, the process of moving your arm, the tension in your hand or jaw, and of course your steady breath underneath all of that.

If your mind wanders, as it often does in these daily routines, just notice it and bring your attention back to the sensations of brushing your teeth.

Bonus points if you try this more than once today!!


DAY 3 CHALLENGE:

o-LISTEN-facebook

Mindful Listening. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Wherever you are sit with a soft gaze or close your eyes. Notice all the different sounds you hear; some sounds will be constant and others will come and go. You don’t need to try to hear something, you just have to be open to receive any sounds that come into your awareness. If you find yourself thinking about the sound or something else, just notice it, and gently bring yourself back to listening.

Mindful listening is great for practicing mindfulness because it is naturally a receptive activity; we have no control over what we are going to hear, and the act of being open to this is great practice for allowing whatever is in the moment to be accepted just as it is.


DAY 4 CHALLENGE:

Practicing mindfulness today is going to be a cup of tea!

When you sit down with your morning coffee (or tea) take a minute to hold it in your hands before taking a sip. Take 2 mindful breaths. What does it smell like? How warm is it on your hands? Stay present while you start sipping slowly. What does it taste like? Try being mindful for 5 sips! If your mind wanders bring your attention back to your senses (smell, taste) or your breath.

Of course this exercise can be done at any time of the day and with any beverage you prefer, so no worries if you miss your opportunity in the AM.

To get your ballot for today’s challenge post a pic of your cup!


 

DAY 5 CHALLENGE:

Mindful Stretching!

cat-stretch

Today find a few minutes to do some stretching; this can be as simple as standing and reaching your arms over your head, or as complex as the one-legged king pigeon pose for all you yogis out there. Just remember, whatever stretch you pick you want it to be something that is not a struggle (you don’t have to think about it) and something you can do very slowly and hold for a few breaths.

Before starting your stretch bring your awareness to your breath for two mindful breaths. Start stretching very slowly and be present with all of the different sensations in your body; feel the areas that become tense and those that relax. If your mind wanders just notice it and bring it back to your breath and the sensations of stretching.


DAY 6 CHALLENGE:

Being Present on our Pillow

pillow

When I climb into bed and am ready to fall asleep it seems my mind goes into overdrive. Lately I’ve been catching myself incessantly thinking when my head hits the pillow and saying “Where are my feet”. I bring my attention back to the warmth of the blankets, the softness of the pillow, the purr of my cat, and anything else that is happening in that moment. On nights where I’m particularly worried I find myself needing to say this over and over.

Tonight I propose that we all try this technique. Instead of letting thoughts take us out of the moment when we are snuggled in our beds tonight; let’s try being present on the pillow. When you notice your mind has taken you away, gently bring your awareness back to your breath and your surroundings. Remember, thoughts will continue to happen, try to just observe them and let them pass, instead of following the thought wherever it wants to take you.


DAY 7 CHALLENGE:

Tune into your Tunes!

music

Take a few minutes today to listen to any song of your choice. If possible do this when you can sit and simply focus on listening. Be present with the music, the lyrics, and notice any emotions or thoughts that come up when listening. If you get carried away by thinking, notice it, and gently bring yourself back to the song. In particular, be an observer of all the different emotions it brings up.

BONUS POINTS for trying one upbeat song and one mellow song. Notice the difference in the type of thoughts and emotions that they stir up.


DAY 8 CHALLENGE:  Small Mindful Interruptions

IMG_0948

Today, set three alarms on your phone for different times between now and tonight. Suggested alarm title “Where are my feet?”. When the alarm goes off, pause for a moment and take one mindful breath.

 


DAY 9 CHALLENGE:  Mindful Hygiene


hand_washing

Today every time you wash your hands try to be present with the whole process. What does the water feel like on your hands? Watch the soap lather, notice the feel of rubbing your hands together, the smell of the soap, the sound of the rushing water. If you notice your mind wandering, gently bring yourself back to the routine of handwashing. Who knew you could practice mindfulness and get rid of germs at the same time?! 🙂

If you find yourself forgetting try putting a sticky on the bathroom mirror or making a mark on your hand (which will remind you of this practice and also be something to wash off).

For today’s ballot tell me how you did remembering to do this! Don’t worry if you forget a lot today, you might very well end up remembering tomorrow instead!


DAY 10 CHALLENGE:  Mindful Hygiene

DAY 11 CHALLENGE:    Transforming the Waiting Game

PeopleWaitingInLineWithShoppingBaskets

Whenever you find yourself waiting today (in an elevator, in line at the grocery store, sitting in a waiting room, waiting at a red light) resist pulling out your phone or getting frustrated with the time you are “wasting” and notice the peace that exists in that moment. For now you have nothing to do but be present in the moment. Follow your breath and use your senses to take in your surroundings. If you get distracted with thinking gently bring yourself back to the present.


DAY 12 CHALLENGE:  Opening Doors

door
Every time you go to open a door today try to be present for the whole process. Often we rush through this without even being present because we are so focused on getting wherever it is we are going. Today, pause and notice your breath, the grip you have on the handle, the push or pull to get the door open, etc. Remember car doors, building doors, house doors – lots of opportunities to practice mindfulness.


DAY 13 CHALLENGE:    Walk Away the Week

Today while you are walking, be it simply down the hall of your office or a leisurely stroll outside, try walking mindfully. Feel the pressure move from the back to the front of each foot as it hits the ground. Notice the rhythm of the motion, feel your breath, feel the movement of your legs, feet, and arms.  If your mind wanders, bring your awareness back to the feel of your feet on the ground.


DAY 14 CHALLENGE:    Switch On to Switch Off

Today whenever you go to turn off lights, use it as a reminder to come back to the present. In that moment be aware of your breath, your hand flicking off the switch, and the way the room changes as you do so.  If you can, pause for a moment of stillness and take 2 mindful breaths.


DAY 15 CHALLENGE:    

sit2

Today, whenever you transition from sitting to standing try to be present with the entire movement. Take a mindful breath as you stand.


DAY 16 CHALLENGE:    Reach for your Phone..and Take a Mindful Pause.

phone
Today, every time you pick up your phone pause for a moment, feel the weight of the phone in your hand, and take a mindful breath.


DAY 17 CHALLENGE:    Take a Chill Pill

candy wrapped in blue foil…okay so not an actual pill. Get a piece of hard candy, mint, gum, etc. When you put it in your mouth notice what it tastes like and what it feels like on your tongue. Take a few mindful breaths.


DAY 18 CHALLENGE:    Mindful Chores


Today, while you are doing one of your chores (washing dishes, laundry), try to stay present with what you are doing, at least for a few minutes. Instead of thinking about what’s next or getting frustrated that you have to do the chore, try to use this time to practice being present and letting this moment be whatever it is (non-judgmentally). This is always trickier when they are things we would prefer not to be doing. When your mind wanders, bring it back to the sensations of whichever task you are doing, and your breath.

Let me know what chore you did mindfully today to receive a ballot!


DAY 19 CHALLENGE:   Putting On & Taking Off Shoes

putting-shoes-on-feet

Today, every time you put on or take off your shoes, be present for the whole process. Be mindful of your breath, the movements of your body, and the feeling on your feet.


DAY 20 CHALLENGE:  Identifying “Thinking” or “Feeling”

thinkThroughout the day today, when you notice you have been distracted away from the present moment, identify whether you were distracted by “thinking” or “feeling”. Once you do this, mindfully bring your attention back to the present by focusing on your breath or answering “Where are my feet?” and paying attention to your surroundings.

This practice will help you become aware of what tends to drag you away from the present and how often it happens. The more you practice identifying when and what is taking you away, the quicker you will get at noticing and bringing yourself back.

If you need a visual to remind yourself to complete this challenge; I recommend a sticky with “Where are your feet?” or “Thinking? Feeling?”.

 

DAY 21 CHALLENGE: Pick a Colour

Screen-Shot-2013-04-30-at-12.45.31-PM

Pick a colour, any colour, and throughout the day notice everything in your world that is that colour. Whenever you enter a new room, etc, take a mindful pause and identify anything that is that colour. Having the colour in mind will help give you a focus while the process will help bring you back to the present.


DAY 22 CHALLENGE: Mindful Food Prep

carrot
While you’re cooking or preparing a meal today, try to stay present with the whole process. Pay attention to the look, feeling, smell, and sounds. Be fully present with everything you do – you might be surprised with how much is actually involved with getting a meal together. If you find your mind wandering, notice it, and gently bring yourself back to the sensations around you and take a mindful breath to re-ground yourself in this moment.


DAY 23 CHALLENGE:  Monday Mix-Up

icecream
You’ve probably noticed that it’s naturally easier to stay present while doing something new; like if you’re learning a new skill or driving in an unfamiliar neighbourhood. Once things become second nature to us we no longer need to concentrate on them, and therefore our minds are quick to take the opportunity to take off.

Today I propose you try something new to ignite your present moment awareness. Take a different route, try a new flavour, listen to a new song – do any one thing that is out of the ordinary for you. Notice your level of awareness and be present with the new sensations (views, taste, etc). Since we are creatures of habit any change can be hard; simply note any resistance and bring yourself back to the present and the experience at hand.


DAY 24 CHALLENGE:  Getting Dressed with Mindfulness

shirt

While you’re getting dressed this morning stay present with every movement you make. If you notice your mind wandering, pause for a moment, and bring your awareness back to your breath before continuing to get dressed.


DAY 25 CHALLENGE: Mirror Mirror on the wall…

images
Today, every time you see yourself in a mirror (bathroom, car [..not while driving], etc) look yourself in the eyes and take a mindful breath.


DAY 26 CHALLENGE: Eating Mindfully

eat

Today, pick a snack or meal you can enjoy at a slower pace (and if possible alone). To start, simply look at the food in front of you. Then, hold it up to your mouth and take a few mindful breaths. What does it smell like? What thoughts come up? Is there an urge to rush through this? Simply observe everything that comes up. Slowly take a bite and start to chew. What does it feel like? Taste like? What temperature is it? Can you stay present with the whole process of swallowing? Take a mindful breath before taking the next bite. If you notice your mind getting caught up in thoughts gently bring yourself back to the present by focusing on the sensations of eating and your breath.


DAY 27 CHALLENGE: Grounding Exercise

IMG_0228

Pick an item that will fit in your hand (watch, stone, bracelet, phone, etc). Hold it in your hand and close your eyes. Take a few mindful breaths. Pay attention to the weight of the item in your hand. Notice the textures, run your fingers along the edges, and feel any bumps or scratches. After taking a few more mindful breaths, open your eyes and notice how the item looks in great detail. Look closely and notice all the different textures, colours, scratches, etc. If you find your mind wanders throughout this process, gently note “thinking” or “feeling”, and bring your attention back to the item in your hand. If it helps, squeeze the item tightly while taking a mindful breath, to bring your awareness back to the exercise.


DAY 28 CHALLENGE: Body Scan

bodyscan

Take a 5 minute break for a mindful body scan (set a timer if you’re concerned about time). Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and take a few mindful breaths. Slowly scan down your body, starting at the top of your head and moving down your neck, back, arms..all the way to your toes. Pay close attention to how each part feels, trying not to get caught on any part in particular, just simply acknowledging the sensation and any thoughts that come up, and then moving onto the next part. Continue with mindful breathing throughout the practice.

If you finish the body scan before your timer goes off, simply start over or bring your full attention to your breath and continue mindful breathing until the end.


DAY 29 CHALLENGE:  Lather, Rinse, Bring Yourself Back, Repeat

shower
Since it’s Day 29, have I got a challenge for you! If you are like most people – showering isn’t just a time for getting clean – it’s a time for your mind to run wild. Today, try your best to stay present during the whole process. Be present while you squirt out the shampoo, lather it in your hands, and feel the water cascading over your face. When your mind wanders (believe me it will), simply notice it, and gently bring yourself back to the sensations around you. Try not to get frustrated with how often you have to bring yourself back, just accept it as part of the process, and continue to bring your awareness back to the present moment.


DAY 30 CHALLENGE: Fresh Air


air

Today I challenge you to take 10 mindful breaths of fresh air. This can mean standing outside or in front of an open window. Wherever you go to get your fresh air, stand still, close your eyes (if you like) and take 10 mindful breaths. Try to stay present with the entire inhale and exhale. Feel your ribs move in and out. Smell the fresh air, and notice the feeling of the air on your face. If you find it hard to stay present with your breath, count the breaths (1 on inhale, 2 on exhale). 


DAY 31 CHALLENGE: Mindful Reflection & Moving Forward Mindfully

reflect

Today, I challenge you to take 15 minutes to reflect on your mindfulness journey over this last month.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Overall, do you feel more present during your day then you did before starting this challenge?
  2. What positive impacts have you noticed from participating in this challenge?
  3. What challenges came up for you?
  4. Looking over the list of challenges (see website), which ones did you enjoy most/least? Which ones did you find easier/harder? And why?
  5. How will you continue your mindfulness practice? What reminders will you have in place to help you remember?

Download these questions, and a quick survey on the challenge, here. LiveWhereYourFeetAreChallengeReflection If you have the time please complete the survey and email to themindfuldragon@gmail.com, or post your answers below.

CONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE FOR COMPLETING THE CHALLENGE!!

Here are a couple ideas to keep your mindfulness practice going strong:

-Daily alarms of “Where are my feet?”

-Get the Headspace App (10 minutes of guided meditation daily)

Good Luck Everyone!! Thank you so much for participating!

I’d love to hear how you all make out – join the discussion by commenting below, facebook page, or on Twitter.

Looking forward to hearing how everyone makes out with #livewhereyourfeetarechallenge !!

A Mindful Monday Commute

While commuting today (walking/driving/public transportation) notice 5 things about your surroundings. Notice the look of the trees, smell of the bakery, feel of the air, sound of the engine, colour of a passerby’s coat, or anything else happening around you.

If you find yourself getting caught up with thinking (like everything you have to do when you get to the office), notice it, and gently bring yourself back to your surroundings and your breath.

Happy Mindful Monday Everyone!

10 thoughts on “Spring Challenge”

  1. I have been practicing yoga daily for the last 2 months and find that while I am on my yoga mat, I am taking mindful breaths, with ease for the most part. However, what is interesting to me, is how I find it more difficult to sit quietly and breathe, apart from the time I set aside for yoga. So I am happy to be starting this challenge, I feel like it’s exactly what I need!

    1. Lindsay, I totally understand! I find it hilarious that I can meditate for a good half hour when I dedicate that time to it and sit in my specific meditation spot. However, like today, I found it difficult to take 5 mindful breaths while going about my day. I think those dedicated practices are great, but I am excited to see how much we can generalize our mindfulness into our everyday routines and what difference that might make to our daily lives. So happy to be on this adventure with you!

      1. I found it difficult to take five breaths without turning of my monologue in my head. It’s was As if every time I tried, my brain would go on I we drive and think constantly. I’m not gonna get frustrated over it, even though it was frustrating, cause I too am hopeful that by doing this challenge I’ll get better at it, or more in control of where and when I have my thoughts. Are thoughts something you can control? I actually don’t know…. Either wY, I’m excited to start this month Nd feel like it has. Good purpose. 🙂

        1. Hi Seashines, So I would say (from what I’ve learned) that we cannot control our thinking mind. Thoughts will come and go – the difference is whether we get stuck on those thoughts and let them take us away. Our goal is to note that the thought is happening, and then bring our attention back to the present/our breath. But (at least in my case) it will continue to happen over and over, so you just keep bringing your attention back again and again. It does sound like it could be frustrating to feel like you have to bring your attention back time and time again; but know that this is what “doing it right” looks like, and hopefully that will help you feel better about the process. A good image for this is to imagine yourself sitting beside a highway and the cars going by are all thoughts. Our goal is to sit there and observe all the cars going by, instead of jumping in a car and letting it take us for a ride. I love this metaphor (from Headspace program) because it gives me a clear image that thoughts are supposed to keep coming (Note: we aren’t running out on the road and trying to stop them), we are just learning to be the observer of thoughts- instead of getting caught in them. Hope this helps and best of luck with the challenge! As always, I love to hear your feedback!!

          1. That is a good metaphor. I’m amazed at how much visualization is required for this process, and that it really is about active thinking. It’s not easy I’ll tell Ya that. But I like working on mysef, even though it is definitely harder than I thought.

    1. Hi Carol, I agree, and I definitely think my dedicated practice will always be important for me to keep up. Thanks for your input!

  2. My world is loud! I heard my chair creaking, my husband in the other room typing, my breath, my neighbour downstairs, the refrigerator, some unknown humming sound, etc…. Hardest part was keeping on task though. I found myself thinking about my work schedule in the fall all of a sudden, and then thinking about how I was thinking instead of listening. Got a good laugh from that. I like practicing this though, I wondeef f it will be easier by the end of the challenge.

    1. So happy you are sticking with the challenge, and became more aware of the range of sounds in your environment! I found it difficult because my environment was pretty quiet and found I kept thinking of how more peaceful and intriguing it was when I did the listening meditation outside last summer (must have some bitter feelings toward the winter right now). It will be interesting to see how our practice evolves over the month!

  3. I think my favourite part so far of this challenge is the breathing part. On a train today, I tried the stretching thing, but found the easiest part of the task was simply focusing on breath. Its strange that its something that is so often overlooked, despite being so essential to our daily lives. I’m enjoying this process, and find the breathing with mindfulness to be more familiar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *