Newbie yogi: channelling my inner zen master
MINDFULNESS is having its moment, by moment by moment - that's an in joke, and you might not get it, and it might not even be funny.
But mindfulness is in. It's in in the US everywhere from prisons to playgrounds. It's in in Australia, in schools, in community centres, in lounge rooms where groups of mindful practitioners meet to share the love. It might even be in next door.
Mindfulness is even a thing in dating with special sites for mindful singles. I might even join one in the hope of meeting someone on my wavelength.
Which wavelength? To be honest, I'm not quite sure. I'm a newbie yogi. That's partly because I'm approaching it with a beginner's mind - another mindful saying - but also because I've only been into it a few years and in terms of yogis, that's a baby yogi.
If you think yoga's just a series of poses, it's not. Yoga's a tradition of physical, breathing and mental disciplines with the ultimate aim of self-liberation, or the short-term aim of calm and tranquillity.
It's working for me, somewhat.
I practice mindfulness. I sit on my eco meditation cushion in my Zen nook beneath my Buddha print, prayer flags at the door.
On a low-set table is a Tibetan bowl I can't get to sing. There are candles I forget to light, and books I read, but possibly maybe don't quite understand.
I've got apps to remind me to breathe, and apps for guided meditations and even an app I can use with my finger as a sort of Zen finger painting activity.
There's music I use for meditation, and music with meaningful voice-overs, music with chanting, and music for drifting into a Zen sleep. There's a sound shower - too hard to explain, but totally makes me Zen.
I'm getting more Zen, I must be. I've been to meditation retreats and sat for days following my breath. I've practised in yoga studios, in community halls, on the beach and under trees.
I practice mindfulness as I do the washing up, as I take a shower and as I walk the dog.
And, like a true yogi, I'm willing to share. So, if you'd like to follow my dedicated if haphazard journey towards a life of Zen, I'll be back next month. I'll also provide some genuinely useful information in my pick for the month.
This month I'm loving: Insight Timer meditation app. It's been my go-to for guided meditations for a while.
It's free and there's a huge variety of guided meditations, nicely grouped into playlists like Good Morning, Sleep, Relax, Mindfulness. You can create your own playlist with bookmarks. There's a timer, if you want to go solo, and lots of groups you can join to become part of the community. I love the option to send a "Thanks for meditating with me" message to someone, anywhere in the world, who's been meditating at the same time you have. And it's cool to get a message back from someone.
Jan Richards is a newbie yogi with a developing yoga and meditation practice. Her guru is Elvis the mini-poodle - always in the moment.