Stop for a moment. Consider just how valuable this present moment is. This moment is all there truly is.
The concept of practicing mindfulness involves focusing on the present situation and staying in that state of mind. This can mean awareness of your surroundings, emotions, breathing or enjoying each and every step of a really nice hike. Research in recent decades has linked mindfulness practices to a staggering collection of possible health benefits.
When the mind is left to itself, it wanders through all kinds of thoughts, including bad thoughts expressing rage, depression, revenge, self-pity, sadness… When we pander to these kinds of thoughts we reinforce those emotions in our hearts and cause ourselves suffering. For the most part, these thoughts are about the past or future. The past no longer exists and the future isn’t here yet. The one moment we actually can experience is the present moment, and it seems to be the one we spend the least time in.
Although mindfulness can be done anywhere, wellness gardens are generally a great place to practice, due to their design attributes. A well-designed garden will have all kinds of sensory input, nooks to hide in and a general respect of presence from others. (Like an outdoor library)
- Find a secluded spot.
- Turn your phone off, aside from a timer. Otherwise, you may obsess on when to end. Start with 5-10 minutes.
- Get comfortable, whatever that means for you. Be able to relax your parts, though.
- Start by concentrating on your breath. Breathe however is normal for you.
- Next start to relax. I like to start in my toes. I tell my toes to relax. Then I work my way up my body… Legs, relax. Hips, relax. Tummy, relax.
- After your body enters a relaxed state, you’re now going to focus on things around you. Don’t react to these things, just observe your surroundings without judgment. (e.g. – if you’re hearing traffic, don’t judge it as bad, just note that traffic is what you’re hearing, no more than that.) Start with one sense at a time. Seeing can be one of the easiest, however, it can also be overwhelming. I feel hearing is a good one to start with.
- Close your eyes and hear what is around you. It may be birds, water, other people or traffic. Pick one and try to focus on it. Try to make the other sounds go away. Once you do that, stop this one and move on to another sense.
- Smell the air. Inhale the fragrance of the flowers or maybe even what’s cooking for supper!
- Feel the wind or sun on your face. If you’re close enough to a plant, touch it. Near water? Put a toe or hand in. Feel the sensations it offers.
- Taste can be a bit difficult, but you can skip it, or bring a beverage, piece of fruit or a veggie with you.
- For sight, take in everything around you, gently. Then, focus on whatever was the most pleasant for you.
- After you have identified & focused on all available senses individually, you can try to combine the ones you enjoyed most. This may take a bit of time to master.
- If you feel yourself starting to think about your life challenges at any point of the session, bring yourself back gently to concentrating on your breathing.
- When you’re done, stretch. Embrace & thank all of the things you’ve experienced.
Do you have any other techniques you use to practice mindfulness?
Please let me know in the comments!!