Discover your pathway to mindfulness and awe

Life feels different when you choose to pay attention to small details of artefacts, objects and moments that comprise human experience. Through attention, your lived experience of the typical day changes radically. It is a different way of living when you shift from a mindset of relentlessly ticking things off from your to-do list and instead; stop, pause and ponder to allow for important questions to emerge. What do I want to make? What mark will I leave on the world? Why does this matter to me? Who do I want to be?

Growing vegetables evokes present moment awareness. In the photo, Syma Ahmed is tending to her tomato plant at her home in Sydney, Australia
Picture by Ahmed Shuja

Nature’s therapeutic and healing properties provide a vast resource to humans to connect with the deepest parts of themselves and mother earth. Spending some hours or minutes of quality time in nature, during a silent walk or a hike, can help you transcend into a state of awe. Nature has inspired a global state of awe in humans since the beginning of time. Long before sitting endlessly in front of machines and being fast and efficient became the norm, we let her heal us and help us see beyond the immediate.

The photo captures the beautiful scenery of the ocean at Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia.
Picture by Syma Ahmed

My personal journey of mindfulness started a few years ago when I undertook a weeklong digital detox high on a plateau on over 200 hectares of land in Gold Coast, Australia. I found mindfulness to be a game changer. A mind altering and soul enriching experience unlike anything I had experienced in memory. The first few days of the digital and otherwise detox replacing coffee with lemon myrtle tea were difficult. However, what followed was remarkable clarity. I became a believer in living in alignment with my values. In time, I became a practitioner of mindfulness and an advocate of positive mental health.

We’ve all slowed down this year and forced to answer difficult questions about our choices, patterns of behaviour, habits and ways of being. The answers have not been easy, they rattled us and at time they manifested in an awakening. Perspective can be gained through introspection, deep inquiry, and being brave about doing what is right by us as a community, as a people. The pandemic is costly, devastating and chaotic, but it also provides us with a unique opportunity to transform ourselves. Not just our own selves alone, but also the very fabric of the society our predecessors have created and entrusted us to evolve.

Mindfulness is a practice that leads to a journey of finding our inner truth, values and authenticity. To many this seems like we are going backwards to how things were hundreds of years ago. Then again, what’s wrong with that? Who said we are all perfect? Humanity made some decisions based on what they knew then. The destruction from wars and the ensuing starvation. That itself was the beauty of humanity, to find ways to survive and prevail; industrialisation.

I have included here a few helpful ideas that may spark a chain of actionable steps and help guide you on your pathway to wellness.

Make friends with Nature

Spend some time in nature and pay attention by engaging all your senses. Hear the sounds of the insects and birds, the leaves and elements. Observe the different shades of the sky, wildflowers and trees. Feel and smell the texture of herbs and flowers. Take your shoes off to allow earth to ground and nourish your being. Allow your senses to deeply immerse in the awe of nature, its endless beauty and wisdom. Notice the transformation that spending some time in nature brings in you.

The Practice of Yoga

Practice yoga or Qigong (chee-gong) to connect with your inner wisdom, breath, and your body in ways that can be both healing and transformative. Sometimes we live on autopilot, set in routines and practices, and largely in our mind. Yoga helps bring attention back from the mind and thoughts to our body. It is a great way to experience and (re)connect with the light, warmth and magnificence of our souls and bodies.

A Mindful Way of Being

Mindfulness is a practice that you can bring into all aspects of your life like taking a shower, having a conversation with a loved one, and eating. Awaken all your senses and listen to every word in a conversation, pay attention to their gestures and emotions, any changes you notice in the voice and facial expression of a loved one during the conversation. When in the shower, tune into the sound of running water, the sensations of the water and cleaning products on your body, and the aromas that surround you.

Eating mindfully can change your relationship with food as you delve in the flavours, aromas and colours of the produce on your plate, thinking about the origins and producers of the food, how it feels on your tongue and the nourishment it provides your body as the fuel to keep it strong. Be present in the moment.

Design your Physical Space

Physical space, like nature, has a direct effect on your mood, emotions and feelings. Some spaces evoke mindfulness more than others. Letting sunshine in, opening windows and freshening the air with use of essential oils can naturally uplift your mood. Objects and artefacts that mean something to you can bring a deep sense of calm. Sometimes observing the artefacts in your workspace can help in slowing down and stopping the mind from over thinking.

Your Body Clock

Waking up early helps set your body clock in a way that makes it possible to be mindful and productive. You are able to tune into your body and mind before the world comes knocking and making requests. Research has shown that prolific writers do their best writing often as the first thing during the early hours of the morning. If you are a busy parent or start-up founder, early morning hours may be the best time for you to squeeze in your meditation and exercise. Find your magic hour in the early hours of the morning that helps bring out the best in you and your day.

Grow something

Grow yourself a garden and tend to it regularly, ideally early in the day. If you have ever grown tomatoes, you know the pleasure of seeing the first yellow flowers emerge and those tiny green tomatoes. Gardening teaches us important lessons in how being slow can be essential and effective.

A walk in the park can help lift the mood and help you immerse in the sights and sounds of nature. The photo captures a park with a track for walking.
Picture by Syma Ahmed

Allow the practice of mindfulness to grow and make it your own. Share your experience with others if you are comfortable. Build a community around you to keep yourself accountable. Keep a journal to document your experience of living life mindfully and slowly, so you can revisit your experience at any time. It is a choice to be productive by approaching life and work with the mindfulness of a Zen master.

I wish you a journey of discovery, inspiration, and awe.