Try one practice at a time, ideally every day for at least one week.
LISTENING PRACTICE: Follow any sound to its completion. Stay with it until it dissolves back into the silence. Drop beneath the auditory silence to a more pervasive silence. A space where thoughts, mountains, and all things come and go. “Music is silence. The reason we have the notes is to emphasize the silence.” —Dizzy Gillespie
SHOES OFF. Next time you’re restless, imagine the feeling of removing your shoes and notice if it brings a sense of contentment and belonging. Feel the release not just in your feet but in your entire body, and in your mind. See if that helps you relax or fall asleep.
PUT AWAY YOUR CRAYONS. The Sanskrit word klesha means coloring. Not in an artistic way, but as a habit that causes suffering. Without our realizing it, our minds color our perceptions with all kinds of thoughts, beliefs, expectations, memories and sometimes emotions like fear, anger, and frustration. The practice is to stop coloring and start seeing situations and people exactly as they are. How do we do this? Masters from every wisdom tradition agree: meditate. These simple instructions can help you root a daily practice.
GOODBYE FIRST, HELLO LAST. Goodbye first gets it out of the way, takes out some of the drama, but mainly it's to remind you that the person isn't invincible, a cue to appreciate them while you can. Then, when you part, think hello. This is to remember that everyone, in one way or another, continues.
SIT FORWARD. Don't use the back of your seat. With practice, your posture and attitude will improve.
MAKE THE HORIZON YOUR DEFAULT VIEW. Look down only when necessary. Face forward. This practice will keep you present and aware of what's ahead.
CLOSE EVERYTHING AS QUIETLY AS YOU CAN: doors, windows, drawers, books, lids, gas caps...Practice graceful closure in all aspects of your life. DON'T CARE WHAT ANYONE, INCLUDING YOU, THINKS. Look past thoughts. See others as they are and yourself as you are.
BATHTUB PRACTICE. Ease into stillness and let the breath quiet. Disturb the water as little as possible. Relax similarly into all situations that are fine the way they are.
GIVE IT NOW. Don't wait for a special occasion to give someone a gift. It doesn't matter if it's tangible or intangible. If you have it, give it to them as soon as possible.
LET GO OF BEING RIGHT. Place little or no importance on it. Focus instead on being kind.
GIVE SILENCE. Before commenting, pause for a moment. Allow the possibility for something different to arise. Practice this with self-talk, and before speaking to others. IT'S NOT IMPORTANT. If something either irritates you or boosts your ego, say to yourself, "It's not important." Then see if it's true. In the scheme of things, is it important? If not, what is? HAVE A CRUSH ON EVERYTHING. Whenever you begin to feel appreciation toward anything, no matter how ordinary, take an extra moment or so to fall in love with it. Do this secretly and silently. Devote yourself to this practice from the moment you wake up to the time you go to sleep.
DON'T WAKE THE BABY. Practice walking, closing doors, eating potato chips or whatever you're doing as quietly as possible. Imagine a baby sleeping nearby. Be patient and gentle with everything, including your own thoughts.
OUT THE WINDOW! The next time you're in a challenging situation, discard the mantra, deep breathing, or whatever your go-to technique may be. Simply relate to the emotion, person or circumstance directly.
BLOW SOAP BUBBLES. Make each one as big as possible using long, slow exhalations. It doesn't matter if they pop prematurely. Start with five bubbles a day. Notice how this practice affects your mind, mood, life and the world.
SUE EVERYONE! Notice every time you complain, verbally or mentally. Then imagine filing a law suit. Keep it personal: You vs. Them. What's the charge? Get ridiculous with it. This practice will put things in perspective.
MAKE MISSTAKES. When the Navajo weave a rug, they deliberately leave imperfections along the borders. This is an act of humility, to acknowledge our humanness and invite a higher power into the process. Practice making intentional mistakes. Overcook an egg, wear something inside out—make one mistake each day.
STOP LOOKING. When a pickpocket looks at a saint, all he can see are the pockets. Curb the impulse to look for anything. See the blessings that are already before you.
LEAVE THE OVEN LIGHT ON. Adding self-care on top of self-aggression is like putting frosting on a burnt cake. A day at the spa won't change anything if you "need it." First, be aware when you're aggressive toward yourself. Don't beat yourself up for beating yourself up; simply be aware. Leave the oven light on. See thoughts and feelings as they are. With practice, you'll instinctively know not to burn the cake. It will be soft, moist, and sweet—delicious just the way it is. Then, if you add frosting, it's not because you need it but because you enjoy it. It'll just be icing on the cake.
DATE WITH SELF. Sit or lie down. Relax completely. If you start thinking, gently tell yourself, "No need to think right now, Sweetheart. Give your mind a little vacation."
DON'T TELL ANYONE. Keep your intention to yourself. Don't make a big deal out of it. Work toward it quietly and diligently, with no attachment to any results.
HOW'S YOUR ICE CREAM? Sometimes our mind and body are in two different places. We might be eating some really delicious ice cream, but thinking about when would be a good time to schedule an oil change. Use the mantra, "How's your ice cream?" to bring yourself back to what you're doing.
ODES MADE EASY. Think of a person. Begin each line with "Because" and follow it with one reason you're grateful for that person. Example: "Because you didn't kill me when I wrecked your Bentley." Write at least 10 lines. Keep writing until you weep, and write a few more. Then give it to the person, read it aloud, or make a recording.
WHY DO YOU ASK? Before you ask someone a question, ask yourself why you're asking that question. This practice will weaken the habit of seeking approval or validation, and encourage you to trust your own direct experience. You'll come to realize that all the answers are already within you.
BRUSH YOUR TEETH WITH HOT WATER. Hold the toothbrush in your subdominant hand. Whenever possible, do the opposite. This practice will help you stay present.
SPEED BUMP PRACTICE: Take each bump as slowly as possible. Imagine you have a full cup of hot tea balanced on the crown of your head. Feel everything, from the tires all the way up your spine. Then bring the same gentleness and patience to all the physical, mental and emotional speed bumps in your life.