Most days we follow a routine and mindlessly complete tasks without really paying attention to them. This ability to mindlessly carry out tasks we do everyday is essential, it frees up our conscious minds to carry out other tasks like engaging in conversation, reviewing past activitities, planning future activities, or listening to information.
However we are now bombarded with information and the desire to review and plan is so strong that if we do not check ourselves we can spend all of our time either in the past ruminating and reviewing events, or in the future planning and problem solving events we predict may happen. In moderation these activities are very useful, the problem is they can prevent to action that is helpful for us. Sometimes it stops us from taking any action.
Spending at least 5 minutes a day on a mindful activity, will help us connect with our present, and allow us let our thoughts and emotions pass through, without judgement. When we do this frequently enough, we can then deploy this activity when we feel overwhelmed by our thoughts and emotions, to allow us to make sense of what is happening to us, and help us plan actions that fit our values and don’t just attempt to make us feel better and supress painful thoughts and emotions.
Now we don’t have to spend 5 minutes meditating a day to achieve this, we can use some of the mindless automatic activities that we carry out during the day to connect with our present. Below are a few examples of activities that can be used and how.
In the shower
When we have a shower we generally don’t do anything else other than wash ourselves, and overthink about what happened during our day or what is about to happen in the day ahead, depending on when you are having it. So it is a perfect time to be present.
Start by noticing the sound of the water coming out of the shower head, then hitting your body, and the surface of the shower cubicle or curtain. Then notice the sensation of the water hitting your body. Notice the temperature of the water against your body. Look at the patterns the water is making on surfaces and the steam rising from the water. Every time your mind drifts to thoughts other than what you are currently experiencing, bring yourself back to the sensations you are feeling. Do this for the duration of the shower.
Making and drinking a hot drink
I think I make a hot drink about 5 times a day, nearly everytime I do, I do it without thinking. I drink the tea or coffee without really paying attention to it too. This is an opportunity for a few moments to wrest yourself away from your thoughts and just simply put yourself in the moment.
Listen to the kettle coming to the boil, and then clicking off. Listen to the sound of the water pouring out into the cup. watch the water flow from the kettle in to the cup and mixing with the contents of the cup and changing colour. Smell the aroma of the drink, and see the steam rising from the cup. Feel the weight and temperature of the cup as you carry it back to your chair. Notice the sensation of the cup touching your lips and as the hot liquid enters your mouth. Notice the taste of the drink on your tongue, and the warming sensation as you swallow. All the time pausing as another thought enters your mind, and then go back to noticing the sensations in the present.
Checking your mobile
In moments of absent mindedness most of us pick up our phones and start scrolling, some how it feels comforting. But what is we used this activity to be mindful and connect with our present.
When you pick up your phone notice the weight of it in your hand. Notice the texture of the surface of your phone as it sits in your hand. As you activate notice the click of the button and the screen lighting up. Notice the sensation as you scroll up and down and across on the screen. Notice the gentle vibration as you click on various functions. Again each time your mind wanders bring it back to the sensations in the moment.
If you think about your daily routine, you may have more activities where you can be mindful, such as driving your car, doing exercise, and cooking to name but a few. It is important to continue to do these activities as we would normally do. Regreting, worrying and planning are normal and essential parts of our life, but we have to find balance and bring in some mindful practice, to ensure we are able to deploy this activity when things get all too much and we have to bring ourselves into the moment.
Try it for 5-10 minutes everyday, and before you know it, you will be able to do it when you need it the most.
To discuss how mindfulness combined with connecting to your values and stories can help you fulfil your potential, send me a message and we can arrange a free initial call.