What is mindfulness?
Sometimes we get overwhelmed with unpleasant feelings.. Mindfulness is a way to recenter our mind and body and quickly relax tension that we may be experiencing from these unpleasant feelings. Mindfulness is a way to recognize and cope with overwhelming feelings so you can focus on the present.
Mindfulness is not….
Mindfulness is not a magic solution. It will not remove your stress or cause you to feel completely and utterly relaxed for all time. But if practiced often, it will help you manage your stress and unpleasant experiences so you are not overwhelmed by them.
Try this activity
This mindfulness technique teaches you to hone in on your senses and forces you to really focus on each sense. You may find yourself noticing things you’ve never paid attention to before. Think about how often you drive home and don’t even realize your surroundings or that you passed a certain marker on your way until you are already home. Mindfulness helps you soak in your surroundings and be present with them.
For this exercise you will need to be in a comfortable position. Spend several minutes 2-3 on each step, some may require more focus and more practice.
5 Things You See:
Get comfortable and begin observing your surroundings. Try to focus on 5 things in the room around you. Make a mental note of what you can see. You may notice a mark on the floor you’ve never seen or vibrant colors you haven’t realized were there.
4 Things You Hear:
Focus on what you can hear. Really listen to the noises around you. Try to block every other thought out of your mind and just really focus on sounds. Can you hear the hum of the heat/air unit? Is there a distant sound of cars passing? Maybe you can hear a clock ticking in a room closeby.
3 Things You Feel:
For this step, I want you to notice sensations against your body. What can you feel? Work from your toes up if you need to. Can you feel the pressure of your feet on the floor? Do you feel the seat against your body? Can you feel air against your skin? Maybe you notice unpleasant sensations like a tag scratching your neck. Just sit and feel for a couple minutes.
2 Things You Smell:
This sense will take a little more focus as you differentiate smells in the room or area you are in. What can you smell? If you can only smell 1 thing, don’t give up. Keep your focus and really channel your nose to pick up smells.
1 Thing You Taste:
For the last step, you will be focusing on your taste buds. Just focus on what you taste at the moment. It may be pleasant or unpleasant. Maybe you are tasting the remnants of your previous meal or drink. You may taste stale breath. Focus and taste the sensation.
Once you have moved through each step, think about the senses you noticed and what got your attention the most. You may have noticed things you have never realized were present. Maybe you began to smell or taste something you hadn’t noticed 15 minutes ago. When we really take time to focus on things, we can be enlightened. Now pay attention to how you feel. Are you more relaxed? Is your mind clearer? Once you have completed this exercise, you can either decide to engage in another activity or go right back to what you were doing before. If you become stressed and agitated, take another break and try this exercise again.
Mindfulness takes practice, so use this activity often to build good coping habits. Mindfulness can be done anywhere but I recommend practicing it while you shower and when you are lying in bed. These are times our minds often wander onto stressful thoughts and we can become tense and frustrated very quickly.
Let go of the stress, and enjoy the present.
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