Mental Health Association in Ulster, Inc

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mindfulness Skills for Everyday Use

The state of being mindful refers to being aware of your body, emotions, thoughts and sensations as well as the environment around you and interactions. The thought of being fully aware of all these things at once can seem like a challenge to even the most advanced multi-taskers. However, being present in the moment allows you to just notice these different concepts and only requires some attention. It make take some time in the beginning of learning to be mindful but practice makes new neural pathways! When cueing in on different sensations, feelings and thoughts, it may be helpful to first try this when you are in a quiet space with some time to yourself. For this exercise we will explore our different senses and how they can help us be mindful.

1.) Sit or lay in a comfortable position, if sitting put both feet flat on the ground.

2.) Take one large inhale, then exhale slowly through your nose. This is just to clear your mind and relax you slightly to help you release any tension from the day.

3.) Lets first focus on sound. What sounds do you hear going on around you? What sounds in the next room or outside? What about the sounds of your own body, your breath, your heartbeat, your stomach? What sounds do you hear in your head, is there an inner monologue? Just sit/lay listening  to every noise that comes and just notice the tone, the volume and  how the sounds mix. Take about 2-5 minutes and just focus on sound.

4.) Now lets move on to smell. What do you immediately smell? What does it smell like? Fruity, sour, musty, sweet, mild, fragrant, flowery, smokey, leathery? What kind of adjective can you think of to put to the smell? As i sit in my office all i can think of is "officecy." Just notice how the smell makes your body react. Does it make you cringe, relax, smile, tense up? Take another 2-5 minutes to explore your sense of smell in this moment.

5.) Taste. You probably arent eating at this exact moment but maybe you still have a taste from something you ate, chewed, drank or smoked earlier. What do you taste? Take a mental scan of you tongue, from the far back to the tip. What words can you put to the taste? maybe one part tastes sweet, while another bitter or sour. If you are having a difficult time exploring taste without an object, you may want to try this one while your eating. Take a couple minutes again to explore your sense of taste.

6.) Feel/touch. What does your body feel like right in this moment? Do you notice any tension or an ache in a part of your body? Just take notice of how your body is contacting the outside world. If you are sitting, how does the chair feel under your body or your feet on the ground? What sort of sensations do you feel inside or outside your body? What about the air around you, do you feel a breeze or the pressure from the air surrounding you? Take 2-5 minutes to explore how your body feels.

7.) Lastly, is sight. Take in all of your surroundings. What do you see? What colors, shapes, words, lines and movement comes across your line of vision? Do you notice anything that maybe you didnt see before? Use your eyes to fully experience this moment.

When you find that you need to take a moment out of your day and be fully present, try using one of your senses to pull you into mindfulness. Like stopping to feel a cool breeze across your arms on a warm day or drinking your cup of coffee, savoring the aroma and the taste. These moments of mindfulness may help bring you great joy.

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