Summertime is a time of ease and indulgence. Are you in the mood for lemonade and iced tea? Just combine them and call it an Arnold Palmer! Are you in the mood for a totally centering mindfulness session and lounging under a palm tree? Just combine them and call it a Mind Palmer! In fact, there are countless ways to make your casual endeavors count toward your spiritual aspirations, because in the age of social media, appearing mindful is half the battle (the other half is “likes”). 

As the Zen master Dogen said, “You should also know that basically we lack nothing of the highest enlightenment. We are fully furnished with it at all times.” In other words, all it takes is a little creative reframing to help us recognize that we’re already wicked wise. The following five mindfulness hacks will help ensure that your practice isn’t a buzzkill nor does it need to prevent you from getting your buzz on:

1. Aim Low

They say that if you shoot for the moon and miss, you’ll still reach the stars. But if you shoot for the stars and miss, you’ll still probably reach the misty cushion of fluffy white clouds. So do yourself a favor this summer and aim lower. Pare down. Henry David Thoreau implored us all to “simplify, simplify, simplify.” Even that sounds kinda complicated. How about just, “Simplify, simplify”? Or even better, “K.I.S.S..” (Keep It Simple, Stupid). This streamlined approach will allow you to trim the fat in your routine and focus on what is truly important. If what you are doing doesn’t feel essential, don’t hesitate to stop mid-sentence, regardless of what your editor thinks, because time is—

2. Engage in Intentional Chilling

What is the point of a mindfulness experience? This isn’t a koan or a rhetorical question. The answer isn’t that the point is that there is no point, or some other paradoxical quagmire worthy of winter. Remember, this is summer. Mindfulness is about restoration, relaxation, balance, and a dope tan. 

Thus, I highly recommend engaging in hydrophilic immersion therapy with intermittent bouts of solar cleansing. The best spot for hydrophilic immersion therapy is at a temperature-controlled body of water, like, say, your local pool. Solar bathing is optimal in a reclined position in which the body (and mind) can be slightly angled towards the sun, like say, a poolside lounge chair. So pack up a book, sunscreen, a towel, and an Arnold Palmer, and commence chilling! 

Recommended dosage varies but thirty minutes of immersion therapy followed by an hour of solar bathing should be a good start. Repeat if necessary.

3. Try a “Section Darkness” Retreat

Not everyone has the time to commit to a full Appalachian Trail through-hike. Many people end up “completing” the AT over time by tackling it bit by bit in a process known as “section hiking.”

Darkness retreats seem to be all the rage these days, but not everyone has the time (or willingness) to spend a week in a cave during the very season when one could be solar bathing on the daily. But every night the sun goes down. So in a way, every night one is engaging in a darkness retreat! Buy some blackout shades and see how late you can extend your retreat each morning. It’s not sleeping in. It’s a section darkness retreat!

4. The Chopstick Challenge

You know the scene in the 1984 classic The Karate Kid in which Mr. Miyagi attempts to catch a fly with chopsticks? “Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything,” he notes, sagely. It seems like a really immersive and mindful exercise. It also seems really hard. 

Instead, I challenge you to try using chopsticks to eat ice cream. As with catching a fly, you will find yourself using the wrong tool for the job. But, through repeated, engaged effort, you may find that the wrong tool becomes the right tool for engaging body and mind in a delicious pursuit. And remember, people who manage to eat ice cream with chopsticks can accomplish anything, including sweet, sweet fulfillment.

5. Forest Bathe at Home

Research suggests that spending time in nature can be restorative. Hence the popularity of forest bathing, a practice that involves walking through a tree-laden area in order to connect more deeply with one’s surroundings. Of course, that means actually going to nature. And typically in nature one also ends up connecting more deeply with bugs and poison ivy and mud and all the other inconveniences that caused humans to build homes in the first place.

Instead, why not bring nature into the climate-controlled comfort of your home? All you need to do is get a plant or two, preferably something that won’t require too much water or care, because you’ll be pretty busy with all these mindfulness hacks. A plastic plant should suffice. When the mood strikes, go ahead and “bathe” near the plants. Walk around them. Take a nap next to them. If the plants happen to be near your TV, you might as well multitask and catch up on a show while you’re at it.  All in a summer day’s work lounge.

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