Stress is really an overused word and yet it is a defining aspect of our current, modern life. When you are in the loop of stress and constant thoughts, it is easy to forget that the calm, stable, mountain-like, steadiness is also within you, at that very moment, co-existing with the stress response. You may …
Paintings, especially paintings of people, are not just beautiful pieces of art, they can also be artistic ‘mirrors’. Usually, when you look at a painting, you dwell on the art – the figures, their expressions, the colors, how they blend and change. Have you ever stopped to gaze at a painting, while remaining aware of what it brings up in you? How it makes you feel? What thoughts, memories or emotions come up within you while you look at it?
The dictionary definition of doodle is to scribble or make a rough drawing absentmindedly. However, doodling, as opposed to drawing, is an activity where you can fearlessly express, without the pressure of having to meet any external standard. A doodle represents something that has meaning exclusively for you.This mental health week, let’s try and see if we can make sense of this activity more ‘present-mindedly’!
Your senses are your window to the world; you experience life through your senses. Yet, in your everyday routine, you remain busy in trying to make meaning of whatever you see, hear, smell, taste and touch. This is necessary and an essential part of survival! However, if you think about it, every sensory experience is so rich on its own.
Keeping this in mind, this blog describes a mindfulness exercise that involves paying attention to one sense at a time.
Imagine you are a ship. On a voyage. Swayed by gentle breeze or choppy waves everyday. You feel pulled back or pushed ahead. At times, you find it difficult to stay on course. Wouldn’t you want to have an anchor, to keep you steady?
If the ship is your mind, the breeze and waves are your thoughts which take you to the past and future… but what is the anchor??
The anchor is something that is with you all the time – it is the ‘present’
Discovering the Present through Mindfulness
Mindfulness means paying attention to the present, completely and fully. It is a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience, be it of what you see/hear/smell, or your breath or even your thoughts.
The New Year has begun! Every new year brings along with it the vibe of a fresh start and of new beginnings. Perhaps, that’s how the whole idea of new year ‘resolutions’ came in. The philosophy behind resolutions seems to be to infuse us with freshness and zeal , to make one change that will see us being happier and healthier in the next year. Some of you may have made your resolutions and are probably trying to keep up with them. Many of us, throughout the year, attempt to form new habits or to break old ones. Both forming and breaking habits involve a whole lot of psychological connotations. For now, let’s pick one habit that many of us share a love-hate relationship with – a food habit. Just about any food habit. Be it a tendency to reach for the chocolate bars as soon as you reach home or munching on fries and wafers for hours together. The importance of eating healthy and caring about food habits stares us in the face everyday, through newspapers, the internet and somewhere, even through our own bodies. What does it take to break an unhealthy food habit? To deal with a craving for food? ‘Self-control’ is what intuitively comes to mind.
Diwali is here-a time of the year for festivity and rejoicing and I love all of that. The sweets, the gifts, the general feeling of gaiety and energy in the air-its invigorating.
There is another image, a slightly different one that also stays with me which I want to share with you. It is the image of the lamps burning away into the night, much after all the noise and the gaiety subsides.
Okay! So here we come to the end of the Mental Health Week with our last post, and all along we have made it a week of mindfulness for you and for us.
As promised in the last post, we are taking you into somewhat deeper levels of mindfulness since the last two days. In today’s post we will work on mindfulness with emotions and feelings. As in the last six days, we will do a small exercise to help you observe your emotions, mindfully. But before the exercise a little bit more on observing emotions:
How can emotions and feelings be observed?
You know when you are happy, sad, angry, disappointed and so on… Well how do you know? Maybe you will quickly answer “I just know”! But this is mindfulness week remember? We do everything with a pause…so I Invite you to try to not answer immediately! Take a moment and think on how you know what you feel. Think before you go on reading…
We have already discussed in our first post for the mental health week, the exercise of creating present moment awareness through looking, through isolating one sense at a time and focusing on it in order to be mindful, or in the present.
Most of you who have been following the posts this week we are sure are already into the mindfulness groove. Hence for the last two posts for the week, we take you a little deeper into the mindfulness experience. Before I introduce you to today’s exercise, just a little background..
Back with the mindfulness exercise of the day – muscle relaxation. We usually associate mindfulness with relaxation. The idea of serenely experiencing the present, just as it is, without judging or evaluating the moment is soothing and relaxing.
Today, we will take this understanding forward and explain a relaxation technique which is about mindfully watching your body and relaxing it. We’ll call it, Mindful Muscle Relaxation. When most of us say relaxation, we mean relaxation of the mind. Even so, mental relaxation and bodily relaxation are not mutually exclusive. But more on that in a couple of days. For now, in this technique we will exclusively focus on relaxing the body, mindfully. Often our muscles have tensed up even without our knowledge. Pain in the head, back, shoulders is becoming increasingly common. This tension is the body’s way of coping with the continuous onslaught of stress. The body seems to prep up to deal with stress but rarely gets a moment of deliberate intentional letting go. Here is where mindful muscle relaxation can greatly help.