We are in the dog days of summer, which I recently learned has nothing to do with the heat and actual dogs, but rather the emergence of Orion’s Dog, Sirius, in the night time sky between early July and mid-August. The reference dates back to Greek and Roman times when the stars and moon played a more prominent role in explaining and sense-making daily life. [See cool Nat Geo Article]
That fun fact aside, hot summer temperatures can indeed make us feel like lounging dogs, and also make it particularly hard to motivate - including motivating to practice mindfulness. If your meditation habit not quite on auto pilot yet (like the habit of brushing your teeth), the dog days of summer may be dragging your practice down.
We meditate because it creates a ripple effect in all other areas of our life, cultivating positivity and equanimity. When we take care of our brains, check in with our feelings, and root our awareness in the body, we set ourselves up to handle the ups and downs of life with greater ease. We create a little space between experience and our reactions to that experience. We are able to let our feelings and thoughts float by like clouds in the sky, without going down the rabbit hole with any one in particular.
We know rationally how beneficial meditation is, but actually doing it can come down to some very practical considerations. Here are some tips for staying on track, even through the lazy days of summer:
1) Involve your kids. One of the key inspirations behind myKinCloud was to get families practicing mindfulness together. For a parent, half of the challenge with meditation is finding a moment when the kids don’t want a snack, aren’t fighting with each other, or playing their TV shows at high volume. To mitigate these very real distractions that can really mess with your qi, invite your kids to the cushion. It’s a win-win!
2) Find a comfortable place to sit. We often start a meditation with “grab a comfortable seated position” because we mean it! You likely won’t meditate if it is physically uncomfortable. If your hips are tight, get a pillow or a prop to put under your sitz bones so that your knees fall below your hips, making it much easier on your hip flexors. If you don’t have abs of steel and your back begins to ache when sitting, lean against a couch or wall. The point is to find a specific location in your house, your car, your office, your yard that is physically comfortable and inviting – this also includes good lighting and the right temperature. Be planful and find your spot!
3) Find a time. They say that if you want a habit to stick, schedule it – and schedule it in the morning. There are 1440 minutes in a day. It is perfectly okay for you to claim 1 to 10 minutes for mindfulness. Pick a time of day that works best for your lifestyle and biorhythms, and book it.
4) Go with the flow. If the above tips still don’t provide a solution, set a goal at the day level – meaning commit to doing one practice a day and squeeze it in where you can. It can be any of the practices: yoga, meditation, gratitude journaling, feelings check-ins. Set a reminder on your phone, enlist a KinCloud member to be an accountability buddy, and just do it. If you find yourself at 9pm and still haven’t done a practice, take 10-20 seconds to write a gratitude list. In doing so, you will connect with the “roses” of the day and get a nice feeling of contentment. Each little "reward" will reinforce your commitment the following day. myKinCloud is all about flexibility and practicality, thinking of family life.
As you make your way through the rest of July and August, keep a spritzer of refreshing cucumber water nearby to stay cool and try these tricks for maintaining your mindfulness habit! Let us know what else keeps your practices on track by commenting on our social pages, @mykincloud, or send us a note, firstname.lastname@example.org. We are all learning along this journey!