Practicing Mindfulness 1
Live in the Moment
Learning to live in the moment - in a world of constant motion - can be a difficult task, but it can be accomplished.
When you consider the various distractions available to us, coupled with the need for instant gratification, you easily recognize that the modern world may seem more like a curse than a convenience.
Even with the advantages that come with social media and email, there are also numerous stressors. Why didn't someone respond to my post? I want to watch my TV show now - without commercials. I have to set up my automatic bill payment by the 15th.
There are too many things to worry about and those thoughts can lead to self-defeating behaviors. Eventually you may develop automatic thoughts and find yourself distracted: you may drop things, forget someone's name you just met, or even trip and hurt yourself.
I am hoping with this piece to provide a few exercises to help you learn to live in the moment...and convince you why that is an important life pursuit.
According to Portland Mindfulness Therapy, "mindfulness is the opposite of distraction". This seems to make a lot of sense when you consider the uncomfortable results of distraction. "When we distract ourselves, we ... split our awareness into pieces, diffuse the light of presence into multiple directions." The results of these can be minor or catastrophic, but they still represent a lack of cohesion and affect the quality of our life.
According to the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), there are many concerns to be noted that can result from distraction: You may find yourself operating on automatic, neglect present emotions, break or spill things. These are just some common results that the MAAS looks for.
While it isn't a mental illness or a psychological disorder, operating while distracted is not an ideal way to move through life.
You an teach yourself to focus.
Take the Mindful Attention Awareness Test!!!
Which of these things happen to you on a weekly basis?
the evil that men do lives after them, the good is interred in their bones
Exercise 1: Extraordinary Sensory Perception - Your Imagination
This exercises asks you to rely on a particular memory and to use your senses. You can do this by yourself or you can have a facilitator read each section to yourself or the group.
1) Find someplace quiet and away from any potential distractions. It helps to keep the lights low and the air off.
2) Keep your eyes closed, and your body relaxed, but try to sit up straight (or stand). I always like to start with the visual
3) Pick and object, a scene, a food. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as it is important to you and something you are familiar with. Preferably this should be something that gives you pleasure.
For demonstrative purposes I'll pick a seascape
4) Sight: Imagine the sea as you are standing on the shore. Picture the light and are there clouds (use your imagination). Look at the way the waves are moving in. Only focus on the visual - don't worry about the sounds or other senses. What color is the shore? Sand, rocks? Take a few minutes to imagine these things. (Don't rush). Only concentrate on what you can see.
5) Hearing: What sounds do you hear? Are the waves moving fast? Do you hear birds and other wildlife? How about ships or a foghorn? What do the waves sound like when they come in contact with the shore or rocks? (come up with some of your own prompts to think about). Just think about the things you are hearing.
6) Touch: What sort of sensations do you feel on your body? Are you standing in the sand? Is it warm? Do you feel it between your toes? Is there a comfortable breeze. Imagine the wind on your body and in your hair and on your face. Do you feel the sun? What does it feel like on your face and on your arms? Only concern yourself with what your body is in contact with.
7) Smell: What aromas do you perceive? Can you smell the dampness in the air? The seaweed? Is someone on the beach cooking? Think about the odor of salt. Focus on this and the other elements you perceive with your sense of smell.
8) Taste: What sensations do you taste while you are at your scene? Can you taste the beach? The salt-water from the sea? Does the person cooking on the shore have food you can sense? What about the grasses and flowers? Can you taste them? Do you have a refreshing beverage with you? Take a sip. How does that feel? Just imagine your taste.
9) Blend it all: Now blend everything together. Allow yourself to go back along the beach and start with your sight and slowly add the other senses in. Move slowly across the seascape (or image you have) and perceive everything completely. Think about what this feels like as you are going through this process of imagining. How do your senses work together? How does an image or object become complete when you allow all your five senses to work as one?
When you go through this exercise, please feel free to add your own imagery. You don't have to focus on a beach either, you can be in a urban setting, on the balcony of an apartment in the city. You can be in a park or in your favorite museum.
As mentioned, you can do this by yourself or with a group.
Exercise 2: Bodyscan Meditation
There are a few approaches to this technique. Usually you start with your toes or (our head) and move up (or down). You think about each part of the body and flex the muscles in that region and move through to your head. You do this with every area of your body and then at the end tighten everything up and relax.
It's a good technique to address insomnia and probably isn't a good idea to practice if you are busy. It's a good way to introduce a power nap if you are particularly stressful and need to relax. In addition, this will teach you how to focus and help you deal with stressful situations that you might encounter.
I have a video below that will walk you through it.
Do not do this while operating a motor vehicle...that should be understood.
Body Scan Meditation
Guided Body Scan Meditation
Exercise 3: Change It Up a Notch (see caption for instructions)
I will always fail
I embrace setbacks
I keep making efforts until I achieve
I never should have done that
I practiced something and learned I want to do something else
Focus on the future
I am too self-conscious
I am self aware but there is a world around me
Learn to live in the environment
I won't be liked and will be rejected!
I will have a chance to practice perfection
Get it right
I am scared of job interviews
I will interview the company to see if they are right for me
You get the job you want
I cannot keep an exercise plan
I will have to maintain an adventure
You get healthier
Exercise 4: Ignorance is Bliss
In this exercise, you are going to have to consider the thinking, feeling, action model.
You can imagine the scenario or work with a partner/facilitator. It might be more effective to work with someone else.
Scene: Imagine yourself walking down a familiar street or in a place you frequent. You are enjoying yourself and you see someone you know. They see you. You wave to them, but they do not wave back and instead walk past you without responding.
1) What sort of thoughts were coming up. What were you thinking when you saw the person and when they walked away.
2) What feelings came to you during this scenario?
3) Finally - what behaviors did you choose? How did you want to behave and how did you choose to behave? How do you thoughts and feelings interact with your behavior?
What is a cup of Coffee Like?
Exercise 5: A New Way of Looking at Things
In this exercise, you can take an object that is familiar to you - I'm going to choose a cup of coffee.(In some circles they do this with a raisin).
1) Look at a cup of coffee and look at it. What do you see? Pretend it is something you have never seen before. What do you notice. What colors do you notice? What kind of cup is it in?
2) Does it have a particular feeling to it when you hold it in your hands? What do you notice? What is this sensation like?
3) Do this with your smelling and taste. Pretend it is something new to you. This is the first cup of coffee you have consumed.
4) What do you think of it? How does it make you feel?
Do you believe in the power of positive thought?
One Step at a Time
The concept of living a mindful life may be something new to you; it may sound like some new age religion that you don't want anything to do with; you may think it is very difficult.
Well, I won't say it is completely easy, but with a little effort and practice each day, you can certainly move towards a more comfortable life. Letting go of unwanted thoughts or old habits is easier said than done. When you feel sorry for yourself, you are your best friend. You always know how to correct past mistakes because hindsight is 20/20.
An when you think about most of the automatic thoughts that happen to us, they are negative. Shakespeare said that the evil that men do lives after them, the good is interred in their bones. People don't focus on the good.
Mindfulness will teach you how to do that, because what is now, is good.
Did you find this helpful?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Finnegan Williams