In this busy world it can be hard to find time to sit down with a cuppa, let alone find time just to sit and be. Mindfulness is something that normally takes a bit of practice, but it’s worth the effort; taking a few minutes out of your day to do some short exercises is a great way to live in the moment and really enjoy all the little things in life.
This week I’ve tried a few short mindfulness exercises and I realised two things:
- It’s really hard to be mindful while getting distracted by your mindfulness blog
- I’m really out of practice!
Something you’ll notice if you start practising mindfulness is that almost every exercise involves you ‘breathing deeply’. Personally, I do this by breathing in slowly, holding it for three counts, breathing out, holding it for three again, and repeating. Focusing on this breath helps you to focus on the moment, giving you a focal point to drag your attention back to when your mind wanders… and boy will wander! At first, it’ll try to escape the exercises every few seconds, but after a while you’ll manage to reign it in.
If you’re struggling with this, it might be useful for you to get an object to focus on instead. In my therapy group I learnt an exercise where we focused on a stone. It sounds over simplistic and maybe a little dull but it turned out to be one of my favourites. The best bit is that you can do with any object! It goes something like this:
Breathing deeply, take a look at the object. Examine every inch of its appearance.
Now feel the object, run your fingers over its every surface.
Shake it in your hand, does it make a sound?
Smell your object, what does it smell like? Is it a strong smell? What does it remind you of?
So I guess the question is whether this first week of mindfulness has made any changes to the way I feel?
I think it has, in a small way. It’s worth bearing in mind that for the last couple of years mindfulness has been a fairly consistent part of my life, I haven’t practised as much as I should, but I have dipped in and out through this time. This means it’ll probably make a little less difference to me, as I’m only increasing the amount I do, rather than starting a new practise.
Saying that, before I increased my hours, I was spiralling a little bit. My mental health was beginning to get out of control and I was struggling to keep up with my work. This week I’ve been more aware of what’s happening in my body and mind, this led to an increased awareness of emotions, which made them easier for me to control. As I go into week two, I’m feeling a little calmer; ever so slightly more ready for life.
If you’ve done any mindfulness this week please let me know! I’d love to hear what sort of exercises you enjoyed, and try out your recommendations. I’m even happy to hear from you if you’ve tried it, and hated it! Today was just an introduction, next week I’ll be looking at mindfulness for specific situations, which might take a little more time, but are more guided.
If you’d like to try mindfulness but want a little more guidance, try out one of the many mindfulness books: