Let me begin by saying, I am not a professional. I am, however, speaking (or should I say writing) through experience. One thing I’ve learned is to write what I know and I’ve come to know mindfulness to an extent that my mind will allow for now.
So what is mindfulness?
: the collection of intelligent consciousness and unconsciousness
Ful [foo l]
: full of
: to indicate state, condition, or quality
It’s main focus is on the mind as it is right now. Not the mind of the past nor the mind of the future. With that said, practising mindfulness doesn’t require an empty room with incense and a statue of Buddha. It can be practised anywhere you are in that particular moment: in the office, at the park, or lining up at Starbucks. Practising mindfulness is a practice; there is no finish line, only kindness and patience with yourself and being in the moment.
These are what has personally helped me to be more mindful and more present and I truly hope it will help you too. Life is busy but you shouldn’t have to be!
Exercise 1: Breathing
Begin by calming the heart and the mind. This requires attention to your breath’s inhalation and exhalation. For example: inhaling in 8 counts, exhaling in 6 counts and holding in 2 counts allows you to calm the heart and focus on just the breath, away from all or most of the external distractions.
Exercise 2: Hearing
Breathing is the basic, but crucial, component to mindfulness. Once you have developed that solid foundation of breathing, move forward with your sense of hearing. With eyes closed, a calm mind and breathing controlled, start to notice the first sound that vibrates on your eardrum. Really focus on the pitch, volume and/or any changes that may occur. Next, shift your hearing to another sound. Going deeper into whats around you and noticing the subtleties that it brings inside your space.
You may find that you’ll begin to start hearing your thoughts:
“This is boring”
“This is weird”
“I feel uncomfortable”
“What is that smell?”
“My back is itchy”, etc.
Acknowledge these thoughts and see it for what it is –thoughts. Once you acknowledge your thoughts, let it drift away as calmly as it entered and focus your attention back to a sound.
Exercise 3: Sight
In any mindfulness exercise, it’s best to begin with Exercise 1. Now consciously focusing on sight, browse around the room or where ever you are and target an object. Like the thoughts in Exercise 2, look at the object and see it for what it is. Notice the colour, the texture, patterns, anything and everything you can come up with just by using your sense of sight.
This exercise is to work your objective muscles. As humans we are embedded with memories from past experiences; whether good or bad, and these memories unconsciously creates a filter and/or an attachment to an object or moment. By using the sense of sight to focus your attention on what is right in front of you, removing feelings and memories, it shifts your mind to objectively see what is right in front of you as what it is and not what you think it is.
Exercise 4: Touch
Lastly, this exercise is also known as Body Scan Meditation. Beginning with Exercise 1 shift your mind towards the sense of touch. You don’t need to physically touch anything. Where you are is enough. Where you are, there is infinite energy around you. The cool air breezing through your arms or fingers. The softness of your clothing gently laying on top of your skin. Breathe through all the energy. This embodies the physical and tangible compartment of mindfulness.
Eventually, there will be a lightness in your moment. Embrace it!
The goal is not blissful, enlightenment. The goal is not to feel frustration, anxiety, or fear anymore. The goal is not the goal. Entering into mindfulness with a goal is counterproductive mainly because there is absence of acceptance; acceptance of what is and will be. Lean in towards acceptance as it is the core of presence and where there is presence, there is mindfulness.
With you always,