I’ve added a recent post to the blog on my private practice web page regarding tips for working with depression – which include mindfulness exercises. If you of anyone you know has dealt with chronic low moods or depression this blog entry could be of interest to you.
Seems like an oxymoron, no? But it is true we can spend quick moments in our everyday life being mindful and it will increase our overall presence, awareness, relaxation and contribute to a greater sense of groundedness and well-being.
These are very quick exercises that we would engage in for only a few breaths or so to come back to our body and our present experience. I’ll be offering up more of these in future posts, but here are a few to start. I like to do these if I’m working and want a quick fix of mindfulness or am on the go…give them a try and let me know what you think.
1) Stop light meditation – when we hit a red light as we are driving around, take a moment to feel your body how it touches and seat, your feet on the floor of the car, hands on the steering wheel. Take 2-3 conscious breaths, feeling the expansion and contraction of the diaphrahgm as we breath in and out. Keeping your eyes open all the while and you can proceed with breathing and feeling the breathing until the light changes. You an then go on your way. Perhaps keeping some awareness in your body while also keeping most of your awareness outwardly focused to safely and consciously manuever your vehicle.
This would work on bike as well, or on foot if you are a pedestrian. Be creative with this.
2) Telephone Ring meditation -This was mentioned a few posts ago, but I thought I’d list it here again. I discovered quite some time ago when I worked in a high stress corporate environment that I would hold my breath and become quite tense right before I answered the phone. I was anticipating (read as thinking) about what bad news might be coming through the receiver. It was my job to manage difficult situations, so in some ways this was natural. I found that this telephone ring meditation helped me to reduce the level of tension and stress for myself and also be more present to the situation that was arising with the phone call. I felt more balanced and was more effective with my work.
Here’s the instruction for this one: When you hear the phone ring don’t reach for it immediately. Consciously take 1-2 breaths, feeling your feet on the ground, your buttocks in the chair. If you are lost in thought bring your full awareness to the breath and the sensations in your feet and buttocks. At the end of the two breaths answer the phone. You’ll know if you’ve lost track of the present moment and are operating on auto-pilot if neglect to do the breaths before answering the phone. This is a fun one to challenge yourself to do several times a day, or even every time the phone rings. Just remember to be forgiving if you don’t remember to take the space every time before a call. You will become more and more present with the practice over time.
In the swirl of stimuli and the 150 mph culture that we live in we often lose track of our body. It takes both effort and intention to be in the present and one of the easiest ways to access this is through our physical body. I like to check in with myself several times a day and ask myself this question:
Where are my feet?
I then feel deeply into my feet, feeling the sensations and or numbness that is there, hot/cold, tingly, etc. Just noticing whatever is going on there. What are they in contact with? The floor? Am I sitting cross legged? What is that like? You may find that it is difficult to be in your feet for more than a few seconds…just notice this and return to the feet. Feeling our body and making a relationship with it is one of the most profound types of mindfulness practice. I find that even doing this exercise for a few seconds increases my sense of presence, mindfulness, and increases grounding and relaxation.
This is an easy way to integrate some mindfulnes practice into your everyday life and give your mind and body a brief respite from the assault of stimulation.
On this eve of the new year I’ve been thinking about intention. It is the tradition for many to set resolutions for the new year, which sounds a lot like goals – it seems like a bit of a set up for self-criticism and self-judgment if we fail to meet our often lofty (but well intentioned goals for ourselves). I know it has been for me in the past. I like to approach a big transition like the beginning of 2009 with an intention or a set of intentions. I define intention as a continuity of attention and energy that underlie both inner and external manifestation and change. This is differentiated from a goal or resolution as these predict a hard and fast, usually very solid outcome. Our intention is more of an impulse that can guide action and behavior, though we don’t know exactly what the outcome will be….
There is no way we can fail at this. We may forget our intention sometimes, but we can renew it at any time by coming back to it over and over again. One of my intentions for the new year is to nurture and appreciate the many relationships in my life – with friends, family, loved ones, pets, and clients. Basically with all the wonderful people in my life who share their generosity and big spirit with me. I’m sure there will be days where I am engrossed in some intense situation with my work or personal life and I will neglect or take for granted certain relationships. These kinds of days and situations happen. I will just come back to the intention again, no need for judgment or self-flagellation, just reminding myself that in each moment I am empowered to change my intention redirect my awareness and energy and influence what and how my life manifests – in this case how I approach the relationships in my life.
We can use our intention as a kind of mindfulness practice – we come back to it again and again, if we forget we eventually wake up to our intentions and begin to let them filter back into our life through our feelings and thoughts and actions. As we find we are distracted, we wake up again and again coming back to our conscious intentions.
As an aid to remembering, I like to write down my intention(s) in big letters on a piece of paper and post them somewhere I will see them every day as an aid to coming back and waking up to my intentions.
May you be blessed with contentment, peace, and courage in the coming new year.
In our technological world there are some everyday opportunities to wake up. I am often on the computer or answering the phone to reply to or communicate with clients and colleagues and I try to use this time as an opportunity to wake up and practice some mindfulness.
I will set the intention to take 1-3 intentional breaths, just sensing and the breathing and feeling the body before answering the phone or checking the email. I hear the ring, I take a moment to center myself and breath and after I have completed my 1-3 breaths I answer (same thing works for email, after we hear the alert go off.) Often, this creates a more present and engaged communication as well, as i have taken some time to come into the present.
If you are anything like me, you receive multitudes of emails and phone calls, and this will give you plenty of time to practice coming back and touching your own experience before engaging in contact with another. Often we will forget to take our mindful breaths, and this is ok too…this is part of the practice. As we remember we come back and do the practice before each phone ring and email ping. Over and over again coming back to ourselves, our experience and from this more centered place reaching out to engage people and our world.
Waking up bit, by bit, patiently and gently. I find this makes for a kinder and gentler experience in our workday, as there is often so much aggression and rushing in our high speed technological society. Give it try.
This practice will help you begin to unwind the chronic tension in the mind and body around unfinished business with a situation or memory in which you feel you have hurt someone else.
Please pick something of fairly low emotional intensity to work with at first (this is explained in more detail in the recording.) We want this to be a gentle compassionate process. This exercise has been a fruitful one for my clients and I hope it is helpful to you.
Please use your discretion when using any of the guided meditations/exercises I present here. If you ever feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable discontinue the exercise. The most effective way of working with this would be with the help or support of a qualified therapist. Keep in mind that forgiveness is a progressive process and you may not feel you can completely open to or arouse and kind of heartfelt quality of forgiveness during the exercise. Approach the person, situation, or memory with gentleness and take your time. Bit by bit, moment by moment, practice by practice we can learn to let go of our pain, resentment, rage, sadness, and other types of suffering. Regular practice is required to feel the full benefits of the exercise.
Therapists and healers please feel free to link this or distribute to your clients.
Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for the next 20 minutes or so and follow along with the audio.
This is also available streaming from my website, downloadable as an mp3, or you can subscribe to this as a podcast/feed from this page.