Mindfulness is the act of being in-tune with your thoughts, emotions, and body state as they relate to the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can be extremely useful to maintaining your mental health– being in touch with your inner self gives you the tools to recognize negative emotions, as well as identify the cause and respond in a manner consistent with your goals. Mindfulness exercises can also alleviate stress and help the user learn to better regulate emotions– regularly practicing some simple exercises can greatly help remain in touch and in control.
The Mindful Window
Locate a window in your home. Make yourself comfortable, then focus your attention entirely on the view through the window. Observe the variety of objects that you can see through such a limited space. Notice the composition of what you see– rather than labeling objects such as “car”, “bird” or “tree”; focus on the colors, shapes, and textures that make up the objects, note the way that they move and interact. Avoid forming opinions or criticizations and simply watch the world that exists through the window. If you find yourself distracted, notice and accept the distraction, then look for a new color or shape through the window to redirect your attention. Continue until you have observed all there is to see.
Sit in a place you can be comfortable and free from outer distractions. Begin clearing your thoughts by focusing on your breaths. Breathe rhythmically and deeply; in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Inhale for 5 seconds, then exhale for seven, making sure to expand your stomach fully with each inhalation before filling the rest of your lungs. Picture yourself as sitting next to a river. The river is clear and flowing smoothly. When a thought or distraction comes along, notice that thought, and accept its presence. Then, picture placing the thought in the river and allowing it to flow away from you, exiting your mind. Resume focusing on your breaths and repeat as necessary.
Lie down in a quiet and comfortable place. First, bring your awareness to your breath, as in the mindful meditation exercise. Breathe rhythmically and deeply to clear any excess thoughts. Then, focus your thoughts on your toes. How do they feel in the present moment? Note every sensation you are experiencing in your toes. Move from your toes to your feet, then ankles, calves, knees and up through your body, taking time to observe each part in turn. Note whether each part feels light or heavy, hot or cold, tense or relaxed. Are any parts of your body feeling pain? How do your clothes feel as they touch your skin in each part of your body? Notice the pressure of the ground and the sensation of the surrounding air. Move through your body until you have thoroughly felt every piece, up to the crown of your head.
Five Senses Exercise
The five senses exercise is very simple, and can be practiced virtually anywhere. Start by noticing five things that you can see. Search for five red objects in a room, or five square-shaped objects. Next, listen for four sounds you can hear. Do you hear vehicles outside? Someone talking in another room? The sound of your own breaths? Notice three things you are feeling– what is the temperature like? What is the texture of your socks, or a pencil at your desk? Is the chair you are sitting in soft or hard? Find two things you can smell. What does the fabric in the sleeve of your shirt smell like, or a nearby flower or tree? Are you wearing perfume or cologne, and if so, what does the aroma bring to mind? Lastly, find something small that you can taste; a mint, piece of candy or stick of gum. Is it sweet, salty or sour? Does it have a strong flavor? Notice the features as you chew and the response the flavor invokes.
By practicing mindfulness you start to gain a sense of peace. You can also seek some aids in practicing mindfulness or mediative exercises in apps like Calm, Headspace and The Mindfulness App. Some of these exercises maybe helpful to those struggling with anxiety.
If you want someone to talk to out therapist at Mountain Vista Psychology are happy to help.
Dr. Steffanie Stecker a licensed psychologist and the owner and clinical director of Mountain Vista Psychology, PLLC.
In addition, she is a board certified neurotherapist (BCN E5669) and board certified in QEEG (QEEG-D). Less than 100 people world wide are board certified in QEEG, which indicates competency in reading QEEGs and choosing neurofeedback protocols. Dr. Stecker is passionate about brain based effective therapy and creating a safe relationship for her clients to create change. She loves what she gets to do each day!