Mindfulness continues to gain popularity as an effective tactic to treat depression and anxiety. In this month’s blog, I outline some specific exercises you can do to engage in mindfulness. In short, mindfulness is consciously choosing to attend to the present moment and not allowing your mind to wander to the past or future. For a more in depth explanation for what mindfulness is, see our blog from June 2019.
Attention to each breath. Feel every sensation as it enters, fills your lungs, expands your belly, and leaves your body.
- Counting patterns: 4 count inhale, pause for 1 count, 4 count exhale, or create your own
- Option for a peaceful word or scene
- Schedule designated time for mindful breathing or use in the moment when needed
Paying close attention to information coming in through your senses.
- Visual: What does it look like? What’s the shape? What are the colors? What does the texture look like?
- Auditory: What is the overall sound? How loud is it? Does the sound change?
- Touch: What does it feel like? What is the texture? How hard or soft is it? Is there variation?
- Smell: What odors can you notice? How strong are they? Are they changing?
- Taste: What is the overall flavor? What’s the temperature? What’s the consistency? How is this bite unique?
Observe your thoughts without judgment and without getting “hooked” on any of them. Don’t try to change them, rather just observe what enters your mind. Use a visualization exercise to excuse them:.
- Watch your thoughts float away on clouds
- See a stream and watch the thoughts float away on leaves
- See your thoughts written in the sand and watch the waves wash them away
- Picture yourself in your car and see your thoughts pass by on billboards
- Picture yourself standing in a room with 2 doors. Watch the thoughts come through one and exit through another
- Make up your own visualization
Focus on the emotion you feel and study it while fully experiencing the feeling. Observe the emotion without acting on it or trying to change it.
- Identify the emotion. What is it?
- Are there other subtle emotions present? What are they?
- Is the feeling growing or diminishing? What’s the intensity?
- Is the emotion morphing into a different feeling? What is the new feeling?
- Notice any judgments about the emotion or yourself and excuse them.
You can do emotion exposure with any emotion, even with negative ones. Intensely studying the feeling tends to take its power away and enhances your feeling of control over the emotion.
If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness, I’d love to chat with you. Please give our office a call, and we can discuss further.