This is a workshop done with a community group on mindfulness. A second on thought stopping is available too as Im doing that this week! Remember its a workshop outline so image your engaged and fully present as you read through it and practice it.
How do I become more self-aware?
You pay attention to yourself; your thoughts and your feelings. A key way to do learn to pay attention to your ‘self’ is to focus on your breathing.
Exercise 1: Focus on the breath
- Close your eyes if you can
- Focus on the breath
- Breathe in for count of three
- Breathe out for count of three
- Pause for one
- Repeat until you have completed the cycle three times
You can use a little mantra if you like; something simple like “As I breathe in I breathe in calm; as I breathe out I breathe out stress”. Make an agreement or intention of practising this whenever you can during the day
Exercise 2: Body scan
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable place and fully relax your body. Let your breathing slow down and breathe deeply through the NOSE. Feel you stomach rising and falling and follow the breath from the inhalation through your nose, down into your lungs and then on into your belly. Following the breath out in the same way but starting with the stomach to the lungs, throat, mouth and nose.
- Be aware of your body position either sitting in the chair or lying on the floor/bed. Where is your body in contact with the chair? Where is it in contact with the floor? Just be aware of this then bring you focus back to your breath. Now we will focus on one part of the body at a time.
- Starting with your head, pay attention to your body and notice any tension you’re feeling in that area. You might become aware of a feeling of tightness or pain. You might experience a feeling of heat, cold or energy around a certain area. If you do, focus on it for a minute and notice what you are feeling.
- If you notice any uncomfortable sensations, focus on them and breathe into them. Notice what happens; the feeling may become more intense at first, then as you continue the body scan meditation and keep your focus, the feeling may dissipate. Keep your awareness on whatever that feeling for a little while, just staying present in the moment. Give yourself a little massage in that area if you want to.
- Next, move down to your neck, and repeat the body scan meditation steps. Notice if there is any tightness, pain or pressure. Breathe into the areas where you notice and discomfort; stay with the feelings. Gently massage your neck if you wish. Let your body and mind relax.
- Continue this practice with each area of your body, moving from head to toe. Notice how you feel, where you are holding your stress, and what sensations you are experiencing as a result.
- Breathe, meditate, massage and relax. This can help you release tension in your body now; and be more aware of it in the future so you can release it then, too.
Give yourself a goal or plan (intention) to do this regularly and actually do it; start small and build to up to once a day if you can. Be positive about it. Make it part of your routine.
How can I be more present in the moment?
Exercise 3: Mindful activities: Making a cup of tea
- Buy yourself some loose-leaf tea if you do not have any and take down your teapot and dust if off.
- Fill the kettle. Turn the tap on and listen to the running water. Be aware of the weight of the kettle changing as you fill it, creating torsion in your arm. Breathe deeply and breathe in calm; as you breathe out, let stress leave your body.
- Boil the water in the kettle and do not do anything else whilst you are doing that. Focus on the kettle. See it, hear it and sense its presence; it is sharing your space and it is singing, slowly building to a crescendo. Listen to its song.
- When the kettle has boiled pour a small amount of water into the teapot to warm the pot. Place your hands on the teapot and experience the warmth seeping through into your palms and fingers. Smell the hot water; it has a scent all of its own and sense the heat in your nostrils. Breathe out through your mouth and let your tension go.
- Gently swill the water around in the bottom of the teapot and hear its gentle swishing. Pour the warm water out and watch as it tumbles down and disappears into the sink. Listen to the tinkle of the water as it dissipates.
- Place a teaspoon or more of the tealeaves into the warmed pot. Smell the aroma of the leaf and study the color. Breathe.
- Re-boil the kettle and when it is ready carefully pour the boiling water into the waiting pot. You need about one cup of boiling water to each teaspoon of tea. Watch the steam wafting up and note the aroma of the tea as is infuses.
- Stir the brew gently and hear the tinkling of the teaspoon on the china of the pot.
- Place the lid on the pot and allow the tea to stand for a minute. Imagine the leaves dancing in the water and notice the smell and feel the calmness.
- Pour your tea into your cup and watch the strainer fill; add milk, lemon or sugar to taste. Look at the color of the tea: is it amber, russet, green or black? Smell its aroma; is it earthy, grassy or floral? If you take sugar, smell the sugar as it dissolves; it has a very distinct but almost lucent scent, both there and yet not.
- Sip your tea slowly; savour the taste and pay attention to the temperature of the liquid in your mouth. Is it hot, warm, or cool? Notice the taste of the tea and roll it on your tongue. Feel the body of the tea in your mouth and consider its qualities. Is it creamy, full, dry, thin, heavy or light? Swallow and feel the warmth of the liquid infuse you with light.
- How do you feel?
Think of an activity you do regularly (everyday if possible) and begin to do it mindfully.