‘A year of living mindfully’ by Anna Black is a workbook I bought recently to help me introduce mindfulness into my everyday tasks. Inside are 52 easy to follow exercises to guide us how to bring mindfulness into our daily lives.
Mindfulness is something that everyone does each day without realising. It’s about paying attention to each experience we encounter without judging it. Children are the most mindful of us all! They focus on whats happening now in the present. When they play games they are only concentrating on the game and the majority of the time stay in the present moment. As we get older we begin to daydream, ruminate about the past and worry about the future. Technology has also impacted on this, as we tend to take pictures of experiences or text our friends about them instead of being present as it happens as we visually and mentally capture it. A few weeks ago I was in Croke Park at a Beyoncé concert. She stood directly above me and the first thing I did was whip out my phone to video it. I regretted it instantly as I barely looked at her face as she stood there. Instead I was staring at her through my phone. She came close by again a few songs later so I kept my phone in my pocket and just stared up at her as if she was God (which she is) and had a much more fabulous time. 👑🐝
Mindfulness is paying attention to an experience as you experience it. It is being aware of your surroundings, along with both your inner and outer experiences. Awareness of your breathing, emotions, feelings good or bad, sounds, senses, smells, scenery.
Writing as practice: Exploring intention 1
It is important to start off with our intentions for wanting to practice mindfulness. This can be done by writing down some reasons you want to start and some goals you would like to achieve by bringing this into your life.
The first activity involves sitting and asking yourself “why do I want to practice mindfulness?” Sit with this thought for a few minutes whilst inhaling and exhaling slowly. Concentrate on each breath. Inhale through your nose and hold for 5 seconds then exhale your mouth slowly for at least 5 seconds (I’ll do a future post dedicated to breathing exercises as it can be a bit more complicated than just breathing in and out). Set a timer for 3 minutes, get a pen and paper and write down any thoughts that come to mind whilst following these rules:
- Don’t stop. Keep repeating ” I want to practice mindfulness because…”
- Don’t edit your words or cross anything out.
- Don’t read what you are writing until the timer sounds.
Here’s what I wrote:
I want to practice mindfulness because….
Live in the present, remain calm in stressful situations, mindful eating (I inhale my food), comfortable doing things alone, stop being dependent on others, happiness, stress free, content.
I’ll continue to post each exercise as I complete them over the next while. The main thing I like about this book is that there is no pressure to complete the exercises. It’s all at your own pace. If you want to complete two in the one week you can or leave the book down and not touch it for 3 weeks that’s perfectly OK too. These books aren’t for everyone and I’ll probably lose interest after a few weeks and look at it again in a few months but it’s nice to know it’s there when you need it ⭐️