Being a Texas State University student, I have free access to mental health services such as individual and group counseling. I took advantage of group counseling which was actually not in person but over Telehealth (Zoom) and signed up for a Mindfulness group.
Mindfulness can be used to reconnect your mind with your body when you’re feeling scattered, or just far away. Sometimes we are too connected to our body and need to be present outside of the body, like with nature. It is used while moving like in yoga or while seated or laying down as in mediations.
I want to share the use of mindfulness through our senses, specifically sound, taste, and sight.
We can use Mindfulness to focus in on one or all of our senses, like sound for example. Sit, be still and quiet then just listen to everything you hear. It can be the fan in your room, the cars driving past, or birds chirping nearby. The point is to just listen. You can take it a step further and use your imagination of creating a scene in your mind, image what the fan looks like and the way it’s moving. What might the cars that drive past look like or what kind of bird is chirping nearby? Another way to use sound is to listen to music. I tried it with listening to someone play the piano and every time I listened, I noticed something new. It was actually really cool.
Taste. This is a great one to practice if you tend to eat really fast and want to manage it better. To practice, start with something that can dissolve like an M & M. Place it in your mouth and let is sit. Feel it slowly melt away and notice all the textures in each stage. Notice the flavor in each stage. Notice the pleasure it brings and how your body and brain reacts to it. Then try it with your next meal.
Sight. This is an interesting one. The idea is to take notice of your surroundings. The room you are sitting in may be your bedroom. Stand up, slowly walk around the room while saying out loud the item you are looking at. It feels silly to walk around and say “bed”, “mirror”, “window” but it’s another great grounding tool to use when you’re feeling far away from yourself. Next time you are feeling far, one glance at one of these items may help re-ground you.
When practicing being present it’s best to relax before you begin. Get comfortable and begin taking long slow inhales and long slow exhales. Focus on this breath; listen to it, feel the air expand in your body, notice your chest and belly rise with each inhale and fall with each exhale. Your mind will wonder away from your breath and that’s okay, just bring it back to your breath. Do this for 5min. Then begin your practice.
The picture I posted to go along with this blog post resonates with me because I take my dog, Hedley, for a walk to “our” creek twice a day. This creek is just a few houses away and runs along a few acers of grass, huge trees, critters, and complete isolation from people, traffic, and just noise. It’s always breezy there so it’s always so refreshing to feel the breeze against my skin. While there, Hedley gets to roam free sniffing out this tree, peeing on that limb, and chasing after squirrels. I get to clear my head and remove it of the clutter similar to what can be seen in the picture above. I feel like if I don’t, then my time with Hedley won’t be as special for her and for me. You can’t enjoy the present with clutter.
Have you watched Billy the mindful buffalo video?