Practical guidance on how to take notice through day-to-day activities.
Mindfulness meditation is a great way to tune into to our thoughts, feelings and senses. Meditation might sound like a pastime reserved for Buddhist monks, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! It’s just another word for being present.
Sit in a comfortable position with your back upright and feet firmly on the floor. Close your eyes and allow your attention to come to your breath. In, out, in, out. Just notice it, no trying to change anything. Your breath becomes your ‘anchor’ to the present, and every time you find your mind drifting – which it definitely will! – just notice that and bring your awareness back to the breath. You could also use a different anchor such as the sensation of your feet connecting with the floor. Allow thoughts and feelings to come and go: not urging them to go away or focussing too hard on them, but just letting them pass.
Give it a try and see how you feel. It might feel relaxing or enjoyable, it might not. It doesn’t matter; the main thing is to just be present and let it be whatever it is. Be patient, and you’ll soon start to see the benefits, even if some of your meditation sessions feel frustrating or pointless!
Meditating as descried above might feel quite intense, or perhaps you feel you’re just too distracted for it at this time. The good news is, you can bring meditation into day-to-day life!
A nice way to get tuned into the present is by connecting with our senses. Having something more solid to pay attention to than thoughts, feelings or breathing can be helpful. If you’re able to go for a walk or a mooch about in the garden, really pay attention to the feelings in your feet as you walk. Look around you and simply notice what you see. If you’re indoors, look out of the window and notice how many different colours and shapes you can see. Try mindful eating: really tune into each of your senses as you go through your meal. Notice the colours, smell, tastes and textures; put your fork down between each mouthful to really experience the eating before grabbing for the next bite.
You could also try a ‘tea meditation’: brew up a lovely cuppa (green tea is good!), sit in a comfortable upright position and work your way slowly through the senses. Look at the cup; what do you notice? Feel the sensation of it in your hands. Lift it to your nose and tune into the sense of smell. Sip the tea slowly, savouring both the taste and sensations of this. Even try bringing the cup to your ear, you might find you can hear the sea in it! Spend a few minutes with each of the senses and let yourself get lost in them.
Arts and crafts are another great way to take notice and get connected. The sense of ‘flow’ we get when engrossed in a task is really good for us. Grab some paints, a colouring book, weaving papers or any other crafty stuff, and just get into it. Pay attention to what you’re doing and allow everything else to slip away. This could be a great way to pass the time if you’re finding yourself indoors more than usual, and you may get some lovely pieces of art out of it too!
There are loads of guided mindfulness meditation audios out there, as any search engine will quickly tell you. If you’d like to take the next step and go on a mindfulness course, check out the information provided by Mind on different options.