Has that ever happened to you where you were on vacation, enjoying the sun and feeling the heat over your body and suddenly you realize and think, “oh shoot! When I left work, did I send that meeting invite that I was asked to… When I get back I have so many things to do. Oh no, before I left for vacation, did I finish my task that I was supposed to? I should check my email to make sure…:”. Well, certainly now you swamped over with overwhelming feelings of anxiety, frustration, and irritation. When you realized, hours had passed and you forgot to enjoy the present moment of the beautiful vacation.
Mindfulness helps you create a space of presence and decrease one’s from ruminating over the worry filled past and future. Mindfulness helps us focus on what is happening in the now rather than future or past. By practicing mindfulness, individuals can also decrease their stress level. Overall, mindfulness can cultivate our mental health, wellbeing and psychological flexibility.
Here are some steps that can be taken in order to become present and mindful of the current environment one is in:
When we start to fill our emotions with anxiousness of the past and future, we can just notice these feelings at first. Some examples are that, if you are feeling overwhelmed because of the work that you have left to do tomorrow or maybe you made a mistake, it is important to acknowledge and notice those feelings that are coming up to the surface. The noticing practice allows individuals to use that source to navigate what to do next in order to increase self awareness.
One can utilize some of the senses that we experience in our body. These include hearing, seeing, touching, and tasting.
Some questions you can ask yourself is, currently what do I hear around me? Do I hear the clock ticking in the background, maybe the fan that is making a sound or some of the cars outside passing by in the road.
Other things could be what are the things I see in the moment? The wall colour? Anyone else around me at the moment? How vivid is the TV colour?
If you are eating any food, what do you taste in your mouth? Sour, spicy, sweet or hot/cold? What does it feel like in your mouth?
What are some of the things you may feel, like a fuzzy doll around you, blanket, or the couch/sofa?
Sense is a great tool to use in order to experience mindfulness. It has so many different areas to explore that allows individuals to pay attention to their ability to sense things around them.
3. Mindful breathing
This is just not any breathing that we do. The intention of this breathing is to focus on breathing while letting thoughts and sensation come and go in the background. It is important to first find a space that is comfortable. It could be sitting in a chair or laying on the bed. Let your body relax and release the tension in your body. Then place your hand on your belly. When you breath in deeply you can start to sense your fingers separating because of your stomach expanding. Then breathing out you can notice the belly sinking closer to your spine. Notice and see how your belly is blowing up and deflating. Similar to earlier steps, when one starts to wander off with their breathing, just notice it. Notice that your mind does wonder off and do not fight this. Once you notice, bring it back to the present and re-focus on the belly and the deflation and expansion.
When these are mastered, you can now practice mindfulness in different things. These include simply going for walks, drinking tea, and or experiencing nature in the outside world.
The initial stage is always the hardest. At first it may feel that it is hard to stay focused. When that does happen, let your mind wander off but create constant practice everyday. By creating space and time for mindfulness, mindfulness can be easily achieved.
· Written by Sae Aizawa, R.C.C.