Mindful Community: How to Lead a Life of Awareness

This weekend I've been thinking a lot about community and mindfulness.  What creates a mindful community?  I studied Buddhism for around four to five years and learned some about the things that create a life of peace.  While I don't consider myself Buddhist, there is so much wisdom to be found in the Dharma of Buddhist teachings.  My life went from pretty shitty to altogether fabulous and becoming mindfully aware has been the key to the new inner peace that has swept over my life.

I'm seeing a trend in communities across the United States which is that there are a lot of people who are struggling to reach the American Dream.  It seems that people could be using the measuring stick of money and power to figure out how they should feel about themselves.  Low self esteem and issues relating to self image may very well be at the root of a lot of how empowered a person is in life.  This weekend I went to a community where it seemed that the entire community had just given up.  Most of the businesses were closed and it was really an intense day to ponder the impact that mindful awareness has had on my own life.

Mindfulness in community may not solve every issue.  However there is a short list of things that individuals can do to become more empowered and to embrace a life of peace.  Life is not easy, however how you relate to your life makes all the difference.  There is a bible verse that I love, "Love Your Neighbor as you would love yourself".  You have to feel good in your own life to love other people.  It starts with you, healing your heart.

1.  Meditation is the bomb!  When I first began meditating three times a day, relaxation swept over me.  I could laugh again, and the stress relief was so profound.  Here are a couple of meditations to get you started, it is easier than you think!

The Sound Meditation

This meditation is for when you are at home.  You can also do it in the car or in public, however you will want to leave your eyes open.  When you are at home, sit on the couch or lay in bed and get into a relaxing position.  Close your eyes and focus everything on just listening to the sounds in your environment.  Even five minutes of this can bring you to the present moment and totally relax you when stressed.

Lovingkindness Meditation

When you are walking in nature walking or sitting by a camp fire, wish love and happiness toward everyone that comes to mind.  Visualize them happy and doing great in life.  If you see animals wish them love too.  And give thanks for the environment, for the plants and sunlight, rain and trees.  Thinking these thoughts in nature is a profound way to connect with nature and the loving supportive energy of Earth.

2.  Tap into your creativity!  There are a myriad of ways to be creative.  Decorate your home with accents that make you happy.  Prepare delicious food, garden or have an herb garden.  Make artwork in whatever medium you have on hand.  Creative living and making art are healing practices.  They get you in tune with who you are at a deeper level and begin the process of healing and self acceptance.

3.  Keep a journal!  Whether you journal in words or pictures, it is a great way to blow off stress and tune into what is going on in your life.  Journaling gets you in touch with the pulse of your life, what you find important and how you want your life to be.  Every day is best, however once you get in the groove even every few days is a great idea.  Write down things you love about your life!  Document and revel in the small things that make your life amazing.  

4.  Take in media that makes you feel good!  Movies and music have an impact on how you feel.  Create playlists that express your different moods, watch movies that make your heart sing.  Comedies are great to get some laughter in your life.  

5.  Bring your love with you wherever you go.  Learn to love people and see the good in others. One great way is to think of some positive things about every person you see.  Everyone has good and bad qualities, including you and me.  Find the good things in people, the heart has enough love to care about everyone.

6.  Speak kindly of other people!  Lift people up with your words, and affirm to those you love what makes them so special to you.  Actions also speak louder than words, you can show someone you care with the gift of time or even just by helping out to make their lives a little easier.  

7.  Smile often!  Smile at yourself in the mirror too.  A smile sends out a recognition of love to other people, and has a physiological impact on the brain connecting you with others.

8.  Be aware of how your words and actions impact other people.  This can be the biggest challenge and hurdle to empowerment however when you send out positive vibes to other people it can totally alter relationships and smooth out tension in tense situations.  There will be disagreements in life, however when you focus on reacting in a way that is helpful and positive it can have a major impact on your relationships.   

Mindful communities begin with you!  Donating money to a charity once a year makes an impact for sure, however becoming more at peace within yourself creates waves like a raindrop on the ocean.  In everyday life there are so many small moments to spread care and happiness. If people become more aware in life, it can lead to change on a profound personal level and ripple out throughout the community.  Here's to a bit of inner peace and love!