All muscles need exercise.
Even those that exist all up there in our brains! As we have established in previous posts this month, mindfulness is all about bringing ourselves into the now. It can be easy in a world full of distractions to have our minds in every place but the present moment. Babies are prime examples of living in the now (loving the heck out of crib-mobiles and wondering where we go when we play peek-a-boo) because they haven’t yet embraced the thought processes and judgements that interfere with most adults abilities to be present. No worries if you find yourself working about the phone bill mid-yoga-class! A little bit of brain training can get you present. The following are some simple exercises to help rein in the monkey mind and embrace the moment.
Simple but effective.
If you want to get mindful in hurry then this exercise is accessible at any time and place. You can do it right now looking at your computer or mobile device. Simply observe the moment. Choose an item (like your favourite sweater, a pair of shoes, or a weird round rock you find at your parents place as shown above) or a body part and just focus all of your attention on it. Observe the shape of it, the way it feels. Stay present and focused on the item. Maintain this focus for as long as possible. The more you practice the longer you will be able to maintain your attention.
Welcoming kindness into your life.
Mindfulness and kindness are ideas that go hand in hand. Why? Good question. Kindness is also a muscle that needs exercise. When we take the time to be mindful of our emotions, the moment, and subsequently our actions, kindness is much easier to adopt. We become more aware of how
- Sit comfortable and become aware of your breath. Breathe in an out with focus on the inhale and exhale.
- Spend some time focusing on yourself. Imagine looking upon yourself with loving feelings. Like you would look at a loved one, child or beloved pet. Cultivate these feelings of kindness as you breathe in and out. Give yourself a hug as you wrap up your self kindness practice as you promise the following: I am safe, I am secure, I am loved, and I am happy.
- Visualise someone you know well. Breathe in and out as you visualise them standing in front of you. With every inhale and exhale wish them safety, security, love and happiness. As your mediation comes to close give them a hug and focus nothing but kindness on them.
- Picture someone you only just know. This might be an acquaintance or someone/s you have seen through media. Practice the art of wishing them safety, security, love and happiness. Wrapping them in a kind hug before finishing up.
- Finally take some time to wish safety, security, love and happiness on someone that causes you difficulty or in your life. Even if you struggle with this part of the exercise, give them a kind hug as you wish compassion towards them despite your differences.
Hopefully this exercise (adapted from one in Tessa Watt’s Mindfulness book) aids in cultivating an attitude of kindness for yourself and towards others.