Our minds are full of irritants, like fear, resentment, jealousy and even greed. These are damaging to our brains and bodies in the long run and it is becoming common knowledge that stress is an important underlying cause of many physical and emotional illnesses such as cancer and anxiety. Mindfulness is a way of clearing our minds of emotional irritants and destructive thinking. It is a mental hygiene technique.
“Mindfulness” means to be in the moment, in a meditative state, forgetting and excluding everything that surrounds one. It means intensively observing with every sense alert and receptive. There is above all no judgment. It means literally “emptying the mind,” just observing delicately with appreciation, clearing it of all concerns and just focusing on a specific moment.
Dr. Patrizia Collard, a councillor, coach, and therapist, offers the following practical and simple mindful exercise you can try out and record in your journal:
Put a few raisins on a little plate and take a seat anywhere you feel comfortable. Now try the following:
- Look at the raisins as if you have never seen raisins before. Perhaps observe your initial reaction. Do you feel curious or a little self – conscious? Perhaps you are becoming aware of another emotion?
- Decide to focus deeply on these little objects. Do they all look the same or do they vary in size, shape or colour?
- Select and pick up an object, feeling its weight and structure. Can you squeeze it? Does it change shape when you do?
- Feel its surface and structure between your finger and forefinger. Are you aware of smoothness or roughness? Now touching your lips with the raisin, how does the sensation of the raisin on the surface of your lips vary from the sensation surface sensation on your finger? Is it the same or different? Anything else you notice?
- Move on when you feel ready to explore the raisin’s smell. Do you become aware of any specific aroma?
- Bring the raisin to close to your ear and squeeze and rub it. Can you hear a sound? If you do, what emotion do you notice in this very moment?
- Pick up this raisin or another one with intention of putting it in your mouth. While doing so, observe how your body knows exactly when to open your mouth and move the raisin towards the opening; see what your tongue does and eventually, the raisin ends up in your mouth. The intricate process is quite incredible. Can you notice a taste before you start chewing? Do you notice saliva building up?
- Take the first bite. How does the flavour explode in your mouth? What flavour(s) do you notice and what emotions do you become aware of?
- Chew it slowly until its original shape completely changes and you feel ready to swallow. Again, observe precisely how the body swallows food. Try to notice how the pulp lands in your stomach.
- Assess your feelings now. Do you feel like eating another raisin mindfully or was one enough? What thoughts, emotions, and sensations are you experiencing? What is happening with your breathing? Scan your body for tension.
Doing an exercise like this at least six times a week is an excellent step to learning to manage your life stress successfully. You don’t have to do it to this extent initially and can start by merely learning to regulate your breathing as explained in Part 1.
Mindfulness is an extensive topic and Part 1 and 2 had as aim to cultivate awareness. My suggestion is for you to go on a personal exploratory journey to increase your skills. thinkingfit will assist you in this by regular future entries.
Tension is who you think you should be.
Relaxation is who you are.
– Chinese proverb