being aware of yourself

How to integrate mindfulness into your everyday life

The days are full of to-dos, the not-so-relaxing holidays are having an echo effect and the good plans for 2021 are also sending their stressful harbingers into the stressed mindset.
And even though the past year has given us some time for self reflection, to learn about ourselves, we always looked for new tasks to do or were given them at work. No matter if it was the passion for painting, banana bread baking marathons, the search for a new job or managing family and home office at the same time. In the end, despite all of this time, there are still enough tasks we have to do or burden ourselves with - without "taking the chance and dedicating this donated time to ourselves", explains Mara Sandrasekaram. The 34-year-old from Berlin is a coach and helps actors, musicians and entrepreneurs, as she says, "to understand their own integrity. In other words, to be as authentic as possible. To understand who they are, why they do the things they do and to work out with them what they are particularly good at."

In doing so, Mara mainly listens and gives impulses in the right places so that her clients find out exactly that. The impulses Mara passes on refer to a more mindful way of dealing with ourselves. Without the false image of esotericism, because "mindfulness has been brought closer to us from a very spiritual side in the last decades. In order to give the topic a lot of attention and acceptance, this was perhaps not the right approach, because there is nothing purely spiritual about a mindful life. It is simply a conscious approach to ourselves and everything we do. Conveniently, this year we got the chance to deal with the topic of mindfulness in a different, everyday way," Mara explains.

Picture: Mara Sandrasekaram

How mindfulness can help us to find and understand our own integrity is easily explained. By focusing on ourselves and our own needs. And we get this focus on ourselves by consciously occupying ourselves with things or people. By not occupying ourselves with several things at the same time, but only with one thing.
Wait, by focusing on something outside of ourselves, we get the focus on ourselves? "Yes, because by constantly trying things out and reflecting on what we experience, whether this action is good for us at the moment, we notice what we want or don't want," the coach explains. And so you approach the point where you have integrity with yourself and feel good. Stress, for example, is not fundamentally bad. It's just a matter of recognising moments when you are stressed and then considering whether that is the right thing to do.

Just like Mara's clients, fathers, businesswomen and students also get stuck in the daily hustle. They rarely know how to get out of it without a hard cut or help. Simply doing one thing consciously sounds easier than it is. Once caught in the hamster wheel, it's hard to slow down. Yet there are already small tricks that help to reduce stress and master everyday life in a more sustainable way. Mara Sandrasekaram advises: "There are many approaches, from classic ones like meditating, which you can do in the morning, at noon or in the evening - depending on how you like it. There are also small routines that help you to focus on positive things in your everyday life. For example, it helps tremendously to write down ten things you are grateful for but can't actually do anything about, right after you get up. For example, friends, family or your flat. The brain then automatically releases the happiness hormone serotonin. If that doesn't appeal to you, you can listen to music at 110 BPM (beats per minute). This beat addresses the heart rate and calms down quite automatically. Conscious and calm breathing also addresses the heart rate and further calms the heart and soul."
In addition, the coach explains the EFT technique, which is when you tap the lower edge of the left hand with all the fingers of the right hand except the thumb. "This helps especially when you have the feeling of being beside yourself, of not really being yourself." Those who are overwhelmed by too many outside influences can tap their cheekbones with the same fingers to lower their stress levels.

And social media? Take some time for yourself on the sofa in the evening and quickly scroll through Instagram and co. for an hour or two. We get so much input in a very short time via these media without consciously consuming it. Coach Mara explains: "The key here is again to use these platforms consciously. Then social media is also fine. To do this, think about who you follow and what kind of content you want for yourself. That helps not to get lost in this world of envy and consumption."

What works in the digital world is also based on the same principle in analogue everyday life. An aware attitude. With a not entirely unimportant addition. When we move around in everyday life, we don't just consume content. We experience things and people. Therefore, it is especially important to be aware in interpersonal interactions.
"I was recently standing at the checkout in the supermarket and a woman in front of me harshly told me to keep my distance. Instead of replying annoyed that she could calm down, I apologised and said that of course I wanted to keep my distance. The woman was disarmed and apologised as well. What I took away from this is that if we listen and look carefully, and perceive the fears or worries of our counterparts, it can be very disarming and make situations more pleasant," Mara describes a situation some weeks ago.

Especially during the last year, when many things were different, beautiful things also happened. There is something euphemistic about saying that in every situation there is also something positive, something we can learn from. Nevertheless, this Corona time has given us extra time in the past year and presumably the coming year will not be abruptly the same. "Maybe in 2021 we will learn to replace our fears with mindfulness," Mara adds. Therefore, we can use this time to rethink and understand how we deal with others, with social media, and also with ourselves.

- by Maximilian Immer