- May 25, 2014
- Posted by: Sean Fargo
- Category: Blog
Using the extensive mindfulness training that I received from 2 years as a Buddhist monk and 4 years working at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, my courses are designed to be an easy and efficient way to learn the practical skills of opening to our lives with greater intimacy, love and wisdom.
Benefits will include
– improved relationships with others
– greater sense of well being
– stronger immune system and bodily health
– increased self-love
– added clarity, purpose, confidence and wisdom
Check out MindfulnessExercises.com for further details and announcements.
An Exercise to Keep You in the Now
How often are you involved in an activity, a project or a conversation when you notice you’ve lost track of what you’re doing and your mind is wandering? You’re not alone. According to a 2010 study published by researchers Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert, our minds wander 47% of the time. The same study also concluded that those whose minds wandered less, who were capable of being present in their thoughts and activities, also experienced greater levels of happiness.
This should come as no surprise. After all, the mindfulness catch-phrase of our age is “Be here now” and not “Be there then.” To practice mindfulness is to practice the art of being in the present. It requires dedication and patience in order for the results to bloom. However, and this is the tricky part, it is not a results-oriented practice. You’re not actually looking for anything to happen. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite. You’re looking for nothing to happen.
Instead of filling the mind with more thoughts, more information, more stories, the practice of mindfulness is about cultivating the ability to put all of the things in your head in their proper order, and even let go of them completely for a while. It’s about creating mental space. For example: are you more relaxed in a crowded subway or on a deserted beach, or the top of a mountain?
Mindfulness is about finding that same kind of space and perspective to perceive things as they are and not as the cluttered and overstressed mind perceives them to be.
There are many roads that lead to now and many techniques to help you learn how to stay there. Here’s a practice you can do every day to help you stay connected to the present:
Find a quiet spot.
Place an object a few feet in front of you, preferably something of neutral significance like a plain glass cup or a white bowl.
Sit in a comfortable position either in a chair or on the floor. You may also sit on a cushion. Make sure whatever position you’re in allows you to sit up straight with the torso extending upwards, giving space to the vital organs and room between the vertebrae in your spine. Sit up straight enough to create space, but not so straight as you’re now creating tension. Be comfortable.
Set a timer on your cell phone or alarm for ten minutes and don’t open your eyes again until the timer goes off.
Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. As you breathe in, say the word Inhale to yourself and as you breathe out say the word Exhale to yourself. Continue breathing and saying Inhale/Exhale to yourself. If your mind starts to wander and you catch yourself failing to say Inhale/Exhale, just notice it and say the word Thought to yourself and then return to saying the words Inhale/Exhale.
Continue this practice, saying the word Thought every time you realize you’re thinking of other things and then returning to Inhale/Exhale.
When the timer goes off, slowly open your eyes and turn off the timer. Then bring your attention to the object you’ve placed in front of you. Observe the object. Notice its qualities, its shape, texture, color, size. Name those things in your head. For example: Shiny, hard, clear, glass, cup. Do not consider if these qualities are pleasing to you or not. Just observe the qualities and name them. After observing the cup, begin to slowly look around the room. Pause on another object and mentally describe its qualities without judging it. For example: muddy, rubber, black, boots. Continue looking around the room and observing more objects, naming the object and its qualities without putting judgmental labels on them such as “beautiful, ugly, ridiculous, filthy.” Just notice the objects and their qualities. After about ten minutes of noticing and naming objects, return to the object in front of you and name the object and its qualities again.
End of exercise.
The objective of this exercise is threefold: 1) to train the attention by putting it on average everyday objects that you take for granted 2) to learn how to observe both your thoughts and your environment in an objective way, without attachment or judgement 3) to bring your focus to the present.
Noticing your thoughts and your surroundings makes the attention sharper and also takes the mind away from stories and brings it back to the present reality. Which is where we want to be. Here. Now.