When I say ‘firing’ I’m not talking about giving it the sack because it’s awful, I’m talking about taking aim and shooting it at certain situations. Mindfulness may sound calm and placid, but when you’re battling against a mental illness or stress, this is the perfect ammo.
This week I’ve been practising Mindfulness exercises that are aimed at certain things:
- Getting to sleep.
- Dealing with difficult memories.
- Waking up & starting a new day.
- Calming yourself down before/after a stressful experience.
The problem is, when you’re stressed busyness is probably a contributor. If you’re busy you’ll probably not be too keen on adding another thing to your daily routine, but these very short exercises can make a real difference to your productivity. When something upset me earlier this week, I lay in bed and picked up my Mindfulness exercise for dealing with difficult memories:
I closed my eyes and breathed deeply.
I pictured that memory and allowed it to sit in my mind for just a moment.
I watched that memory float away on a cloud.
It didn’t work immediately, nothing good ever does, but after a couple of goes I felt a bit calmer. If I’d tried to block those emotions out and carried on with my day, I would probably have been much less productive with that nagging thought hanging around in the background, waving its arms around and distracting me. But taking those five minutes to allow the emotion its place in the world, and then letting it go, meant it was absent from the rest of my day.I was free!
Similarly, going back to sleep for an extra five minutes is much more tempting than slipping in a Mindfulness exercise in the morning. But when you’ve done it your mind is ready to fight through whatever may attack it on the coming day. In case you’re feeling the urge to give that one a go:
Stay in bed & stretch your body into a starfish shape, wiggling your fingers and toes.
Become aware of any discomfort or aching in your body.
Stretch & sit upright.
Look around the room and pick out 3 things you like: a picture, ornament, item of clothing.
Get up & stand with your feet a hip’s width apart.
Stretch your arms over your head, then drop them to the ground and shake out the tension.
Take a deep breath in & out – you’re ready to start your day!
If you’re not ready to take time out of your day, that’s fine. Next Friday, I’ll be talking about exercises which you can slot into things you already do on a daily basis. No need for time out! But before I go I just want to encourage you to give one of these exercises a try. Aiming your Mindfulness at particular things that’re bothering you can be powerful ammo when you’re fighting for control of your mind and body. After all, you wouldn’t go into battle and fire a gun without checking your aim, would you?
I get some of my ideas from these books and I’d definitely recommend grabbing one!