Mindfulness in disguise – How it grounds, calms and focuses me…
Even in the countryside, where life is stereotyped idyllic and laidback our lifestyles can still be fast paced and your brain can feel like a continuous brawl. Giving yourself ten minutes to touch base with your thoughts or even better take a break from them can feel like you’re asking too much from your day. But does it have to be? As an introduction to me; I have been known in my personal life to be classically late, forgetful and just generally away with the fairies.
Eventually, I had enough of looking for my keys that were in my hand or leaving for work and panicking for ten minutes wondering if I hadn’t unplugged the straighteners. My life was running faster than I could and something had to give before my professional life became effected.
Here is when I started practising Mindfulness. Now, this isn’t meditation. I’d tried that but couldn’t relax, I felt agitated as I knew there were other things that I needed to be doing instead of sitting there, in silence, burning a candle.. Seriously! All that I could hear in between my ears was that I needed to put a wash on or get ready for my second job! In fact, half of the time it would simply send me to sleep.. which I’m not sure quite qualifies as meditation.
Mindfulness I believe is the step before meditation. Mindfulness is observing the present moment and being conscious of your surroundings. For example, when your walking to work – taking out your head phones and hearing the noise of the traffic around you– or for a more poetic spin, the squawk of the birds or the bells of the church. Consciously noticing the feeling of your arm hair’s standing on end due to the breeze from having one arm placed on the rim of an open car window. Whether or not you’re not quite catching my drift and thinking I’m being rather whimsical, below are a few exercises to help you begin practising mindfulness that can even be done whist you’re doing something mundane.
- The Body Scan
This is a great one to do when in bed at the beginning of the day. Lying on your back you are going to bring your attention to your toes and work that attention up your body, through your calves, to your thighs, to the lower back and so on till you go through your hands and up to the top or your head.
Going through this before getting out of bed is a great way to connect your mind and body and get an extra five minutes in bed.
- Mindful Seeing
So, you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or washing the dishes, look out of the window and take in everything there is to see. Avoid labelling what you see, for example instead of thinking “bird” or “stop sign”, notice the colours, the patterns, or the textures. Be observant, but not critical. Be aware, but not fixated and if you become distracted, gently pull your mind away from those thoughts and back to the colour or movements ahead of you.
- Description technique
This can be useful when you’re having a dull moment at work. Take your pen, blue tac or even the fruit your having for lunch. Instead of daydreaming into oblivion, choose to describe that object to a tee. The way it looks, feels, smells, how it responds to pressure, how it tastes? This might come across slightly strange if you become quite expressive and a colleague catches you – but how about you introduce this technique to them? I’m sure it won’t be long before the tables are turned.
The great thing is that we’re already equipped with all we need to practice Mindfulness, so take the pressure off yourself and give it a go….you’ve got far more to gain if you do.
Luccia Rennie – tfd receptionist and membership advisor