Mindfulness has proven a wonderful tool in psychotherapy. There are quite a few definitions of it, and methods of using it. For the purpose of this exercise, I’m using it as an ‘all enveloping, thought stopping / relaxation’ method.
Many of us are not able to meditate because we have busy heads, with our thoughts going round and round on a loop… but this kind of alternative mindfulness exercise has proven effective in shutting our ‘thinking’ down and calming and centering us. We will deliberately and carefully choose to devote our brain and senses to our ‘immediate experience’ instead of focusing on the busy head looping thoughts – focusing awareness and giving our complete and total attention to the present moment, with calm acceptance – noting every single thing that is literally happening right here and right now…
Read on and all will become clear…
General mindfulness in the morning suggestion – pick an activity that constitutes part of your daily morning routine, e.g. brushing your teeth, shaving, or having a shower. When you do this activity, TOTALLY FOCUS on what you are doing, the body movements, the taste, the touch, the smell, the sight, the sound, the feel, your breathing, the environment, the heat, the cold, etc. See the following shower example:
Mindfulness in the shower / how it’s done : Notice how the water jets to life – notice how it sprays from the shower nozzle, notice it’s direction, notice each pin hole that delivers it, notice if they differ, notice how the water ‘collects’, notice the one jet that ‘escapes’ the group…. Notice the feel of the water as it hits your body in different places. Notice the sound of the water, and the feel of it in your hair, on your shoulders, splashing and bouncing off your body, gathering in the bath/tray. Notice the feel and pull and weight of your body as you move around. Notice the temperature, notice the steam. Notice each droplet on the shower curtain or door, the still and the moving. Notice the feel of the soap as you pick it up and lather your body, notice the smell of the soap, and watch the bubbles form and spray away to dissolve and disappear. Notice the feel of each limb of your body as you replace the soap with shampoo, feel the weight of each foot as you move about, feel the weight of the shampoo bottle, feel each movement as you pour it into your hand, notice the feel as it hits your hand, see how it fits in your palm, notice the texture and the smell… feel the pull as you raise your arms to apply the shampoo to your hair. Notice how your arms and hands and fingers move and feel as they massage the shampoo into your hair. Notice how it feels, how it smells, how the texture changes as it lathers then rinses. Be aware how it feels as you close your eyes to protect them from the suds… feel the spatter of each jet of water as it hits you… feel the pull of your neck as you arch back to rinse, feel the shampoo suds roll down your back and away from you, feel your hair flatten against your skull as you press your hands from front to back. Throughout, when thoughts arise – acknowledge them, let them be, and bring your attention back to the experience. Again and again, your mind will wander. Again and again, you will bring it back to experience and acknowledge the activity instead. It doesn’t matter how many times it wanders, just keep returning to record the experience.
Try it! And keep trying it until you get into the total pleasure of it. Surrender yourself to it. See how it clears your head and restores homeostasis balance to your body. And then use the strategy whenever and however you like, wherever you are, to snatch a few minutes of calm living in the now. Enjoy!