My ‘managing emotions’ group looked at Mindfulness on Tuesday.  It was the most in depth look I’ve had since I attended a course on it so I thought it would be useful to write about it.

Mindfulness means paying attention in a certain way, you do it on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.

Mindfulness is:

  • Becoming fully aware of your experiences
  • Becoming more intentional
  • Becoming more present
  • Being fully awake and alive in your life

Like other things, it is a skill that needs to be learned and practised regularly to see the most benefits.

It can be difficult and will most likely be difficult when you first start as we’re so used to running on autopilot.  How many of us walk into a room and then forget why we did so?

What exactly is mindfulness?

Mindfulness can be observing, describing or participating.

Observe:

  • Notice your body sensations
    • Eyes:
      • lie on the ground and watch the clouds
      • walk slowly and stop to notice the views
      • People watch
      • Notice facial expressions on people
      • Pick up a pebble, leaf or flower and look closely at it
      • Find something beautiful to look at and spend a few minutes contemplating it
    • Sounds:
      • Listen to the sounds around you
      • Listen to the pitch and quality of voices
      • Listen to music, observing each note
    • Smells:
      • breath in and notice the smell of the room
      • Smell the aroma of the food before you eat it
    • Taste:
      • eat a meal mindfully paying attention to the taste of each mouthful
      • lick a lollipop and notice just the taste
    • Touch:
      • Notice the sensations of walking as your feet touch the ground
      • Touch something like a pebble in detail, explore it with your hands and try placing it on different parts of your body
  • Pay attention on purpose to the present moment
  • Control your attention
    • Observe urges to do things
    • Observe thoughts coming in and out of your mind
    • Imagine your mind is a conveyor belt and the thoughts are coming along it
  • Practice wordless watching – watch thoughts come into and leave your mind as clouds
  • Observe both inside and outside yourself
    • Observe your breath:
      • How your stomach moves
      • The pauses in your breathing
      • The sensations in your nose

Describe:

  • Put words on experiences – describe in as much detail as possible
  • Label what you observe
  • Describe the who, what, when and where just the facts
  • Remember if you can’t observe it through your senses you can’t describe it

Participate:

  • Throw yourself completely into an activity
  • Become one with whatever you are doing
  • Act intuitively
  • Go with the flow
  • Dance to music
  • Sing along to music
  • Sing in the shower
  • Go running, focus only on running
  • Take a new class

How to practice mindfulness:

Non-judgmentally:

  • See what is actually there, not shoulds or musts
  • Simply accept your emotions
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself

One-mindfully:

  • Focus on ONE activity, thought or feeling

Effectively:

  • Consider how you want to change and make specific goals
  • Focus on your current situation, not what might happens
  • Try to resist acting impulsively.

I hope this is of some help to someone.

 

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