Mindfulness is a practice that trains the mind to focus on the present moment. It reduces anxiety and worry by controlling the thoughts, bringing the awareness to what is enjoyable about life at this very moment. In a world of pandemics, quarantines, protests, and demonstrations, here are five simple ways to help ease stress and achieve true happiness.
Begin by sitting comfortably, or lying down. Close your eyes, or leave them gently open. Choose one of the following strategies, and take as little or as much time as you like for mindful meditation.
The Five Senses Strategy
Take a few minutes to observe five items around the room that you can see. Try to observe items you would not normally notice, like rays of sunshine pouring in from the blinds, or an ant making its way to a crumb on the floor. Focus on every aspect of the item. One at a time, ask what each item looks like. What are the various components, etc.? Next, observe four items to hear. Listen for the sound of birds chirping, or a babbling water fountain. Take note of the pitch, pauses in sound, and other intricacies you may find while lending your ear to the sounds around you. Focus now on the feeling of a breeze across your face, denim against your skin, or the way the chair feels under you. Move on to two items of which you can enjoy the fragrance: flowers, a candle, or food. Finally, indulge in the taste of something delicious and appreciate every single facet of the taste.
The Full Body Scan
For a few moments, notice the rhythm of your breath and how your chest rises with each inhale. Notice your belly filling with air. Begin The Full Body Scan by releasing tension in each toe. Then, one by one, for a few seconds respectively, focus on relaxing your feet, lower legs, knees and so on until your focus reaches the top of your head. When you’re done, slowly open your eyes and resume regular activities.
The Silent Mantra
Silently repeat, “I am at peace,” “I am that I am,” or some other short positive statement that will help to calm anxiety and yield more mindfulness. Concentrate on each word and train the mind to be at peace. The Silent Mantra can also be useful against insomnia.
The Focused Breathing Technique
Bring your attention to the sensation of air entering and exiting your lungs. Allow other thoughts to drift away, like a balloon in the wind. Discipline your mind to refocus on your breath whenever distracting thoughts arise.
Take a walk through, or stand still in the grass barefoot. Concentrate on the grass or the dirt against your toes. At your very base, feel the texture of the grassy blades. As other thoughts come to mind, refocus on the ground beneath your feet.