Mindfulness is the buzzword of the moment. It’s about knowing what’s going on inside and outside of ourselves, moment by moment. Dissolving anxiety, stress, and enhancing wellbeing, Simon Parke, author of new book One-Minute Mindfulness reveals 13 exercises you can do right now
1. Stop what you’re doing Turn off the phone, the IPad, the radio…put down the magazine. Stop. Listen to your breathing, allow it to slow and deepen. Notice the thoughts and feelings that arise, without self-judgement.
2. Notice when a thought has kidnapped you and you’ve become the thought One common sign of this is when we find ourselves looking on others in judgement – thoughts often separate us from others; or perhaps we’re beginning to despair about something and can see only the negative in a situation. When we are kidnapped by a thought, we don’t hear any other voices – and the one thought can grow into a jungle of delusion.
3. Step out of the rut of your perceptions for a moment Notice something you’ve stopped noticing like the breeze on your face, the scent of fruit you’re eating, or the way you can move your fingers. Allow the world to address you in new ways- it’s got so much strength and beauty to pass on.
4. Next time you travel on public transport, pay attention to an object you can see however ordinary – a bag, a seat, a light, a hand rail. Consider it – what does it do? What role does it play? Is it attractive, noticed, useful, old? How was it made? How does it speak to your present life?
5. Notice the effect a conversation or an encounter has on you Does it leave you gladdened or disturbed, cheered or anxious? What was it that caused this to be so?
6. Accept everything about yourself – everything! If you find this hard, ponder who in your past made it so? And then accept everything about yourself – everything!
7. Look at the clouds passing through the sky for a while They are like your thoughts, passing through. Your thoughts have no substance, so let them pass through, like clouds in the sky.
8. Notice your breathing and stay with it for a while It’s a good way of becoming present. Your breathing – unlike your thoughts – is always present.
9. Walk mindfully for five minutes, engaging only with your present experience Notice what you see – a lamp post, a tree, a paving stone – and allow them to speak wordlessly to you.
10. Notice today when your thoughts make you anxious and try to breathe in trust in this present moment We were not born anxious; the anxious voice inside our head was put there by others. It’s always a liar and does not help us now. Why worry about the future when the future doesn’t exist? It’s possible that a way will become clear even though we can’t see a way. So we notice anxiety… and breathe in trust.
11. When you are disappointed today, in whatever way, do not ignore it or rush on Instead, be brave and breathe into it, asking what message it brings. It is the difficult times that bring us self-awareness; self-awareness that helps us live the difficult times more creatively and with less fear. Perhaps it is we ourselves who cause our difficult times.
12. Notice an uncomfortable feeling Uncomfortable feelings are ghosts from our past – they speak more of how things were rather than how things are now. In our past, we rejected difficult childhood experiences, because we couldn’t cope with them. We blanked them out. But they remain lodged in our body and can cause strong reactions to events or people in adult life – reactions that are now inappropriate and leave us or others feeling bad. Allow these ghost feelings to the surface, they are less harmful when acknowledged. But we don’t have to act on them – these feelings, like ghosts, are just passing through.
13. Let go of your plans for this moment Can you do that? Come to it like a blank canvas. Do not try to control it or force particular outcomes. Relinquish your desires for this moment… just be here. It’s good.
Ex-Daily Mail columnist Simon Parke spent 20 years as a priest in the Church of England, and three years working in a supermarket, stacking shelves and contemplating the meaning of life. He has since worked with both the NHS and Social Services in staff support; undertaken personal development work for various European banks, and is currently CEO of The Mind Clinic which takes mindful listening into the work place. Simon has written extensively, producing award-winning scripts for TV and radio and a collection of novels. He runs, leads retreats and follows the beautiful game too closely. His book One-Minute Mindfulness is available now.