The practise of Mindfulness has taken the self-help and therapeutic world by storm. It is a simple task with profound results. I do it every day, several times, in many different guises; Anywhere, anytime. It has made an overwhelming impact on my mood and my well-being. It has helped me be In Recovery Me.
The definition I like the best is that Mindfulness is “secular Buddhism”. It brings all the wisdom of the religion without any of the weight. So what is it? Mindfulness is simply paying attention, bringing your focus into the present. It grounds you in the here and now.
Mindfulness is just that; paying attention. Listening to your body; Listening to sounds; seeing all around you.
One of my favourite ways to be Mindful is to notice Colour. I see the colours around me, I name them in my head – that’s blue, that’s green, and that’s grey. Before I know it the objects around me are brighter, they have a more defined outline. I am in the present. I am noticing.
Perhaps the most popular Mindful exercise is to take notice of the breath. I always find this interesting, because when I focus on the breath, for a moment I can’t breathe. I almost panic. It’s a funny one, controlling an involuntary movement cause’s tension. So I have trained myself just to start by observing the breath, not to control it. Once I have done this, once I have become in touch with the breath without changing it, then I will begin to control it. I begin by counting the in breath, counting the pause between breaths, counting the out breath. My favourite is breath for 7 in, hold for 4 and count 8 out. If I do this a few times and I find I am grounded. I have become totally aware of the world around me. It is amazing.
Another popular way I use the practise is to become Mindful of the body. To do body scans. I sit quietly or I just carry on what I am doing. I begin by simply noticing tensions in my body. I take my mind to them, I breathe and I release that tension. It’s fun, because as I release in my arm, a “pain” will spring up in my tummy. I focus on that, release it – and poof, there’s tension in my foot. I could chase tension around my body all day! But focusing on it does release it. And I feel, dare I say, more alive.
I do, practise all day. Another way I bring Mindfulness into the present is – as I am walking I walk with my head down. I always have, I like to know where my feet are. Then I make myself lift my head. And as I do this, I see the world around me. I really make a point of seeing. And there I go again; I’m in a state of Mindfulness.
We are all made up of habits. Becoming Mindful can merely be changing our habits. For instance, if you always put on two socks then two shoes. Why not try one sock, one shoe, then the other sock and the other shoe. Take notice, you will feel better.
Finally, another practise I like to employ: when I’m feeling anxious, when I’m feeling blue, I find it helpful to name objects. I look at an object, anything. A pen, a book, a lamp… I name that object and as I say its name in my head, I breathe deeply. I do this on three objects. I find this grounds me and really brings me into the present and visibly lifts my mood. It is difficult to be low when you are in the present.
Oh wait – there’s more. You can become Mindful of the sounds around you. Listening to what’s in the room, then focusing on what’s in the house, finally taking your hearing to the outside. Love it.
You can become mindful of smells. I often put a dash of cream or a drop of smelly oil right under my nose. I love to be aware of the smell. So you get the idea. Mindfulness is about paying attention and this can engage any of our senses.
Like I said you can do it anywhere, anytime. It is straight forward and powerful. Try it today. Mess around with it, till you find your comfort level. And then change it up. Being in the present is, as they say, a gift. Present – gift, get it!
Have a great day. A day In Recovery Me.
About the Author – Kate Hull Rodgers is an expert by experience. She has been mentally ill since 1986, more than 30 years. She is diagnosed as bi polar and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) Every day she battles to be in recovery, many days she wins. She speaks in corporate workplaces with her company www.humourus.co.uk. She has spoken in 29 countries. Also she runs Stepping Stone Theatre for Mental Health www.steppingstonetheatre.co.uk with her husband, Bill- and she is still happily married. Mustn’t forget, she is the proud mother of Harvey and Dominic – and the dog, Zebbie.