Mindfulness in Practice Part Two
In order to practice mindfulness, it can be easier to direct your focus on a specific task or target to present moment awareness.
For instance, “single-tasking,” or focusing completely on whatever you’re doing (e.g., taking a shower, washing the dishes, walking), is a great starting point. Use all five senses to focus on the present moment and bring yourself back to that moment once you realize your mind has drifted off, as it most certainly will. One of the first mindfulness practices a friend taught me is “3-2-1,” and it is a favorite to engage in when I’m outside. It’s just as it sounds, in that you name three things you see, three things you hear and three things you feel. Then, you name two things you see, hear and feel. Finally, you name one thing you see, hear and feel. By the time you get to the list of single things you see, hear and feel, you really have to stretch to find something you have not named yet, such as your shoelace hitting your ankle or the far-off sound of cicadas. This keeps you intensely focused on your experience.
You might also try to engage in this intentional present-moment focus while doing something specific, such as drinking a warm beverage, listening to music or enjoying a favorite treat. I learned the latter activity with a raisin, but personally, I am far more partial to using a piece of chocolate. When I’m in my office with my clients, I have us take 10 or minutes to eat chocolate using all five senses. Unsurprisingly, this practice is called “savoring.” Almost all of my clients tell me that they have never tasted chocolate in such a focused manner. They don’t often get the homework to eat chocolate regularly outside of session, either!
Identify something that you want to do more intentionally on a regular basis. Engage all five senses to be present in the experience, whether it is walking in nature, cuddling with your pet, taking a bath or cooking. Take note of how your experience of this activity is different than usual, particularly if you try it with a more mundane activity, such as commuting to work, shopping at the grocery store, eating lunch or cleaning your house. Pay attention to when your mind drifts and, just like the puppy, gently bring it back to the present moment by focusing on your current and ongoing experience.
Regular practice of healthy coping skills and support from others, including skilled clinicians, can help you learn to tolerate challenging experiences such as being present in an anxious or distressed moment. If you have any questions about mindfulness and putting these practices into action, please contact EDGE Counseling Solutions at (224)-676-2317 or firstname.lastname@example.org.