Here are some quick and easy ways to get some equanimity during your day.
Mindfulness does not have to be an arduous task, in fact, we want it to be the exact opposite. It’s as simple as finding a moment when you can come back to yourself, reconnect, centre and continue on with your day.
A lot of people think of mindfulness as a 30 minute deep meditation practice, bum on cushion, legs crossed, harem pants on, hair cascading around your shoulders. However, that’s not what mindfulness is all about. I’m personally a big fan of “informal” mindfulness - using opportunities throughout your day to seize the moment to establish some balance.
Mindfulness is about harnessing your attention, to bring you into the present moment. The list of benefits of Mindfulness are seemingly endless, but perhaps most importantly for work, mindfulness allows us to manage our emotions more effectively, by decreasing activity in our amygdala (the emotion centre of your brain).
Here are 10 easy ways to be more mindful throughout your day and at your desk. So turn that monitor off and put your phone on aeroplane mode, and get some zen!
Mindfulness of your Senses: Tune in to what you can hear around you, what you can feel or touch, what you can see. It can be helpful to count 5 things that you can see, 5 things that you can hear, and 5 things that you can touch. This can help to interrupt patterns of rumination or worry, and help us to connect with the here and now.
Mindfulness of your Breath: Become aware of the air entering and exiting your body. Follow your breath as it goes in through your nostrils, following it down into your lungs, feeling it exit through the same path. Focus your attention on one part of the process, such as the tip of your nose, the top of your lip, or your belly moving up and down. Close your eyes and ride the waves of your breath for 5 minutes…just breathe.
Mindfulness of Food: Keep a small item of food, such as a sultana, a mint, a piece of chocolate (whatever your heart desires), and practice mindfulness of food. Pick up the item and observe it before holding it up to your nose, smelling it, noticing your salivary glands become active, holding it to your lip, noticing that experience. Slowly place it in your mouth, allowing it to rest on your tongue. Notice the urge to chew it or swallow it, surf that urge. Gently move the food around your mouth, noticing the different sensations. Alternatively, make yourself a warm cup of tea, noticing its warmth and observing what it feels like as you drink it. Take your time, don’t rush the experience. Who knew a sultana could taste so good!
Mindfulness of an Object: Keep an object at your desk, like a stone, or something that is textural. Place it in your hand and take a moment to observe it, noticing everything that you can. Imagine you are going to place this object back in a jar with a lot of the same types of objects, how will you identify it again? Move it around in your fingers noticing the texture, is it smooth, soft, hard, rough? Is it warm, cold, room temperature? Take a moment to close your eyes and continue to move it around in your hand. Take a deep breath and place the object back on your desk.
Mindfulness of Body Sensations: Close your eyes and take a deep breath in, following your breath as you continue to breath in and out. Scan your body from the top of your head, to the tips of your toes, noticing any sensations that you experience along the way. Is there a lump in your throat, tension in your shoulders, tightness in your chest, an itch on your leg? Where are the points of pressure? Focus on the place where the sensation is the most intense, and just breath into it. Let you breath flow into this area, and make room for this sensation. Don’t try to fight it or push it away, just allow it to be there and keep breathing into it. Be curious about what is happening in this moment.
Mindfulness of Thoughts: Your mind is like a newsfeed, constantly updating you with sometimes helpful stories, and sometimes inane ones. Just notice your thoughts as they come to your mind. See if you can count your thoughts. Your mind will constantly bring you thoughts, but that’s all they are. Just thoughts. Don’t go with them, but instead just observe them. Be curious but keep your distance. Just watch as they come and go, like trains passing through a station. If you find yourself on the train, just notice that and get off at the next platform.
Mindfulness of the Mind: Imagine your mind is a river, flowing gently. And your thoughts are leaves on that river, floating along. Imagine your thoughts as balloons, floating through the sky. Imagine your thoughts as items on a conveyor belt, moving along at their own pace. This exercise allows you to see your thoughts as just thoughts, moving along, not getting stuck.
Mindfulness of Music: Put your headphones in and take a moment to really go with the music. Notice all the different things that you can hear, notice the lyrics, the instruments. Alternatively, follow your breath while listening to a piece of music, and allow yourself to take long deep breaths in and out.
Mindfulness of an Emotion: When a strong emotion, or a not so strong emotion comes up for you, just notice it. Allow yourself to be curious about it. What does it feel like inside your body? Describe the physical sensations and urges that arise with that emotions. Describe your feelings to yourself, or label it for yourself by saying “I am experiencing the feeling of anger”. Stick to the facts and try not to make any judgments, just noticing your experience. You can do this with your thoughts as well.
Mindfulness of your Safe Place: Take a moment to close your eyes, take a deep breath in and visualise somewhere that evokes feelings of safety or comfort. This may be your bedroom, a place from your childhood, or a warm sunny beach. Bring to mind what you can see, all the colours and shapes. Notice what can you hear and smell… and how your body feels at it returns to this familiar place. Let yourself rest here for a few moments and when your ready return to your day.
If you are just starting out or you like to listen to guided mindfulness practices. You can find a list of our favourite ‘short and simple’ meditations in the 'Things we love section'.
With Warmth, K & A xx