Urban Shamanic Lifestyle: Mindfulness

One does not have to be a healer or guide for their community to incorporate a modern urban shamanic spiritual practice into their life. This series of posts details ways we can apply modern shamanic spirituality to our lives right now.

Living in modern society, we have almost constant opportunities for distractions: 24/7 news cycles, on-demand media streaming, non-stop social network updates, etc. It’s very easy to become obsessed with global events. We have dozens of social causes fighting for our attention: human rights, racism, corporate greed, animal cruelty, global warming, war, politics, pollution, violence, crime, genders, free speech…the list can go on and on.

However all of these demands on our attention take away from the time we have to focus on our own lives. We cannot be eternal activists or we will become fatigued and burn ourselves out. Then we are of no value to any cause.

Find time for the moment.

Being mindful is consciously living in the present. It is being aware of the stimulus around you as well as your own thoughts. It means being an observer: of not only your surroundings but also your self.

Here are some suggestions for practicing mindfulness in your daily life:

  • Twice a day, set aside 15 minutes to devote to being mindful. If you are able, set a timer so you don’t have to be distracted with how much time has elapsed.
  • Close your eyes and listen. Don’t think about what you hear, just listen to the sounds.
  • Listen to your thoughts. Don’t analyze them. Don’t make judgments about them. Just listen.
  • Pay attention to other senses. Do you smell anything? Just experience the smell. Don’t think about what it is or where it comes from. Just experience it. Is the wind blowing or the sun shining on your skin? Feel it. Experience it.
  • Pay attention to your breathing. Don’t try to control it. This is not meditation or a breathing exercise. Just be mindful. Breathe naturally but observe it.
  • Open your eyes and look around you. Don’t focus on thinking about what you see. Instead think about the properties of what you see. Color? Motion? Size? Solid or liquid? Notice the small details of the world around you.

You can do this anywhere you will be safe and uninterrupted for 15 minutes. I like to be outdoors in the morning after sunrise and in the evening after sunset. However any place is fine as long as it is safe and you are able to be in the moment for the allotted time.

Reconnecting with the world.

This gives us a time to be grounded, to be part of where we are. We don’t have to give up our social obligations. We can still fight for our favorite causes. Just don’t lose sight that your purpose is to experience the world.

This includes the space around you. The habit of becoming familiar with your own present will allow you to become more comfortable with being in it.