a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. ~ Oxford Dictionaries
Just about every author that has written on the topic of mindfulness will agree on the potential benefits of practicing it:
- Decreased stress
- Faster recovery from illness
- Treatment of depression
- Improving and enhancing both physical and mental health functionality
- Supporting emotion regulation, etc.
At par, the same authors tend to provide the similar exercises that boil down to 5 basic steps:
- Sit down
- Engross yourself in what you are doing and be one with the present
- Don’t judge yourself. You are not your fidgety body, your insubordinate thoughts or your cantankerous emotions
- Be kind to your unfocused mind (what does that even mean?)
- Return to observing the present moment as it is…
Don’t the steps seem so simple and straightforward? And yet, they are so darn hard to achieve and mind-numbing to practice. A cocktail of deceitfully easy and monotonous steps (and hard to come by results) are a lethal combination to anyone that is trying to make mindfulness a habit.
In this quick blog, I am going to introduce to you a very simple way to do all the steps mentioned above. This method will be easy and fun, bringing out your inner child! You can adjust as needed, you won’t have to count breaths, and you will absolutely love making a habit of it. If you are a parent this is an awesome exercise to get your kids involved and have them join in the fun!
- Go to a park, a museum, a beach, a cathedral or any place that you enjoy being.
- Sit down and take a snapshot (either mentally or in your journal) of how you feel at that specific moment.
- Imagine that the scenery in front of you is a huge canvas. Choose a finger and imagine it as a brush and start tracing what you see. Go slow and carefully as if you were painting the masterpiece in front of you. Imagine dipping your finger into your paint jar and choosing the appropriate color for what you are painting. Start with big strokes and little by little move on to the minute details. If you are in public and don’t want to use your finger, just imagine that your eyes are your brush and mentally paint the scene.
- As you are engrossed painting your work of art, start listening to the sounds that surround you. Chose an individual sound and listen to its cadence, timbre, tone, pitch, volume, and try to describe its expressive voice. Do that for a minimum of 5 sounds.
- As you have come to the last sound, find a minimum of 3 external sensations (e.g. the air conditioning of the room, the breeze caressing your body, the sun touching your bare skin, etc.) and describe to yourself each sensation in detail.
- Once you are done with the external sensations repeat the same exercise, but this time with a minimum of 3 internal sensations (e.g. your breathing, your heartbeat, itchy skin, etc.)
- When you have completed the internal sensations, take a snapshot (either mentally or in your journal) of how you feel at that moment. Notice the difference from where you started.
You could do this for as long as you want. You will find it fun, relaxing and it will surprise you how much time you can delightfully spend in mindfulness. Enjoy!