We all live busy lives — ours is a busy world after all. Our minds are constantly pulled in one direction and then another. Over time, this can lead to scattered thoughts and emotions, and it can leave us feeling stressed and even quite anxious.
In our May issue of balance we shared the concept of mindfulness. We introduced the exercise of mindful breathing - a helpful exercise to clear your mind and find some calm amidst the frantic pace of your day.
Something that most of us would agree on is the value of a balanced well-being. Essential for our well-being is to take a few minutes each day to cultivate mental spaciousness.
Here are two more simple mindfulness exercises to help you cultivate mental spaciousness in your life.
This first exercise is key to cultivating a heightened awareness and appreciation for your day to day experiences.
Think of something that happens more than once every day; something you take for granted, like getting a coffee, for example.
At the very moment you pour that coffee, or fix it with your milk, touch your coffee cup, stop and be mindful of where you are, how you feel — this requires just moments of awareness and attentiveness.
This could be opening a car door, or pressing an elevator button, but these 'touch point' cues don’t have to be physical ones. In fact, the next time you have a negative thought, try taking a moment to stop, label the thought as unhelpful and release the negativity.
This exercise will help you listen in a non-judgmental way. It is designed to train your mind to be less swayed by the influence of past experiences.
Past experiences have a profound impact on how and what we "fee". For example, a song might remind us of an unpleasant experience, and each time you hear it you are reminded of that - whether you’re conscious of it or not.
1. Select a piece of music you have never heard before
2. Put on your headphones and close your eyes
3. Try not to get drawn into judging the music by its genre
4. Ignore any labels you might have attached to the music, like title or artist name
5. Allow yourself to get lost in the journey of sound for the duration of the song
6. Allow yourself to explore every aspect of the track
7. Let go of any dislike and give yourself to being fully aware of the sound waves of the music
8. Explore each of the song’s instruments, vocals of the singers and the lyrics, for example.
Both of the exercises are about being mindful in the moment, and becoming aware in the present of your day
to day experience. Mindfulness can lead to lower stress, and the ability to be aware of things that might have otherwise been missed.