Light in my Shadow

Learn How to Practice Mindfulness (Be here NOW, it’s where the magic is)

When I began mindful drawing, I didn’t have a mindful bone in my body. I didn’t know how to practice mindfulness. To be honest, I didn’t really know what it was.
My life was so shitty at that stage, the last thing I wanted was to be mindful of it. I’d actually spent my whole life deliberately NOT being mindful. In silence with just me? Holy crap that’s where all my triggers were.

Little did I know how beautiful mindfulness actually is.

When you learn how to practice mindfulness, you’ll become fully plugged into the present NOW moment with all of your senses.
It sounds easy enough, but it’s not – mostly because our thoughts and attention are often everywhere but the present moment.

Our thoughts often fly off into the past and the future.

Maybe we’re thinking of things that happened in the past – or even worse, stuck in toxic loops of regret. Our thoughts often wander into the future, dreaming about the day when *this thing* happens – and BOOM, then we’ll be happy.
Often we create scenarios for things that haven’t happened yet. The mind loves to worry about worst-case scenario or other fear-based outcomes.
Practice Mindfulness
Runaway thoughts  are literally your energy
leaking out into the past or the future.

When you practice mindfulness, you call your energy back into the present moment.
When you live life mindfully, you feel like you’re truly living, rather than just being alive. You’ll notice the depth, the richness and the intricate layers that make up right NOW – and that moment that is constantly changing.
Mindfulness is also non-judgemental awareness of your thoughts and emotions. This is so important because denying and suppressing emotion tends to bite you on the ass later.
When you’re plugged into RIGHT NOW, you also have the power to create changes if you’re not completely where you want to be.

If you’re too busy to notice the present moment, you won’t be able to change the trajectory of your life. You’ll be stuck in unconscious creation, rather than having the power to consciously create your reality.

Let me tell you about my very first taste of mindfulness...

I had a delicious little taster of mindfulness once, just before I began mindful drawing. This was my entree to the main event.
In March 2017 went to an ashram all on my own for eight days. It was a silent retreat, with no phones and no internet which weirded us city-dwellers out a little. The reason for no devices was so we could be fully present, with no distractions.
Everything was relaxed and normal for three days, then on the fourth day I got a taste of mindfulness, and HOLY geez it was different.

It was so good it’s become a forever memory.
I was sitting outside at 8am, eating a bowl of plain muesli after my morning meditation, exactly like I’d done for the last three days. But today I sat there and for the first time ever, I connected mindfully with my senses.
In an instant,
my reality became
far richer.
One minute I’m just sitting there, eating cereal. The next minute I could taste the oats and fruit in a far more intense and sensory-rich way. I savoured the organic stewed pears in my mouth and these sweet, juicy pears became the best pears I’d tasted in my life. The cold morning air was thin and crisp, and I was transfixed by the beauty of the thick plumes of fog I was breathing out of my mouth.
I could hear the birds celebrating a brand new day – but this time, I could hear the separate sounds of hundreds of birds all at once. The ducks were quacking in the foggy dam in front of me. I could hear kookaburras in the distance, laughing in a ring all around me, echoing out across the whole forest.
practice mindfulness

The colours around me were far more vivid than usual.

The grass underneath my freezing bare feet was the most vibrant alive green I had ever seen. I could see every single ripple on the dam a few meters away, the surface of the water glimmering like a mirror.
I saw the weavings of the finest gossamer threads of a tiny spider’s web, crisscrossing like a delicate highway on the wet grass. There were dew drops on each thread, glistening like tiny diamonds.
I saw hundreds of tiny little bugs flying around the grass, illuminated by the rising sun in front of me. The smell of incense wafted through the air, and I could hear the swamis singing their early morning devotional chants in ancient Sanskrit.
I could perceive such a depth and richness to being right here, right now, that I couldn’t perceive minutes and days before – although I was sitting in the exact same place doing the exact same thing. I became part of a mind-blowing miracle.
This moment will stay with me forever because it was such a powerful first taste of mindfulness. It triggered deep gratitude, which raises your gamma brainwaves which raises your frequency.

Mindfulness is not just for the 'good' things only.

There was one day where I cleaned 20 temple windows with vinegar and newspaper. The windows were around 4 meters tall, I was standing on a ladder and my arms were aching. After the third window I started getting all shitty, mentally-whinging things like, “man this job sucks!”.
And fair call cause it did suck. Heaps. But when you shift your perception and approach it mindfully, it became an experience to get to know myself on a deeper level.
I felt every emotion of frustration and impatience. I observed boredom pop up time and time again, and I watched the feeling pass like a cloud. It’s a reminder that nothing is permanent. All crappy emotions will pass.
So I decided to experience cleaning those windows in a mindful way. I smelt the vinegar and felt it sting my nostrils and I felt the heavy ache in my arms. I let the emotions flow through me and out of me, and I observed myself.
Instead of rushing through this task mindlessly, and as fast as possible, I can say I was really there. Me, that vinegar and my achy arms lived that moment SO fully – and that’s what it’s about. This experience created an imprint of living. It felt rich and real and it anchored me into the experience of being ALIVE.
And just like that my taste of mindfulness was over.
Eight days later I left the ashram and peace behind me. I switched my phone back on, got a lift back to the city chatting with the girls the whole way. Slowly my mind wound back up and this beautiful mindfulness left me. I came back home, started drawing, and within a few months I had it again.
This time it came much easier
and it stayed longer.
You don’t get given mindfulness once and that’s it – you’ve got it for good. I’ve lost it many times, especially in the early days, or on busy days. You also lose it if you stop the consistent practice that connects you with mindfulness (whether you learn through meditation or mindful drawing). But you can get it back any time you choose.

Now I practice mindfulness everywhere. It's become second nature.

Mindfulness for beginners is easiest in nature because there’s just so much divine stuff to plug into everywhere. It’s under your feet, you can smell nature, it’s above your head, in the sky, in the sounds you hear. But when you’re got the hang of it, it goes with you everywhere.

Here’s a glimpse of what mindfulness in the kitchen looks like.

Picture this. I’m standing at my kitchen bench in silence chopping tomatoes for pasta sauce. It looks super dull and boring from the outside. But when you learn how to practice mindfulness, it’s a totally enthralling, rich, sensory experience.
You see the tomato – this beautiful vegetable (or is a fruit haha!) – in all its detail. The vibrant red colour stands out as alive. You see the marks on the vegetable and notice the smooth, soft texture of the skin. Every chop, chop, chop is rhythmic meditation. You rub the stems and breathe in that unique tomato plant smell. Here and there you shove some juicy sweet tomato into your mouth and weave another layer of experience in.
You’re in awe of the hundreds of seeds inside, and the miracle of how each seed can make a whole new plant. You have gratitude for life and you’re fully plugged into the experience.

When you’re mindful of this present moment – every moment is a miracle. It’s fucking pure magic. When you’re not mindful it’s just a seriously boring task you’re trying to do as fast as possible. See the difference?

If I’m not being mindful, I can eat a WHOLE block of dark chocolate without thinking.

It’s literally gone before I even realised it was here. Plus you put all those kilojoules on your sweet hips, for what? You didn’t even really taste it! Ripped off by YOURSELF!
Or I can eat two squares of dark chocolate mindfully, and it’s heaven. I can plug into the smell first. Then the sweetness and the bitterness of the cocoa, feeling one single piece start out cold and solid, slowly warming and melting into the creamy consistency.
One piece mindfully, is 1000 times better than a whole block shoved in your mouth mindlessly. See what I’m saying? (PS writing that made me really want chocolate. NOW).

Practicing mindfulness allows you to experience emotions on a deep level. All of them good and 'bad'.

This is how you move hard emotions through you and process it. It will pass.
To plug in fully and deeply connect with your feelings is how you decide what you want to change and what you want to keep. Every moment becomes an opportunity to begin again, to choose a different direction for the next moment. If you’re busy? You won’t even notice it but you’ll sure be stuck with the results.
Never stop noticing the little things.

Because when you learn to practice mindfulness, there are no little things. There are only miracles everywhere. This is how you tap into gratitude, and this is how you truly feel alive.