Mindfulness Beginner Exercise.
Being present in the present
The practice of mindfulness has demonstrated in numerous peer reviewed studies demonstrated effectiveness in mitigating stress, anxiety, panic, depression and physical and mental ailments associated or made worse by stress. In conjunction with hypnosis, the practice of mindfulness can facilitate neuro-plasticity, that is, the rewiring of mind-maps and the redirection of automatic thoughts, behaviors and emotions.
The simplest definition of mindfulness is doing something mindfully that we normally do mindlessly. Easy examples are eating, walking and breathing mindfully. Imagine focusing your attention on what you are eating, the smell, the taste, the texture, the appearance of your food, the feeling of cutting, tasting, chewing, and swallowing.
When we talk about it, it may sound boring but what it actually does is unclutter our minds and provide a way to experience the moment, to be present in the present. It has a very calming effect on our minds and our bodies. With sufficient practice overall stress and anxiety levels reduce and we experience our lives in a more peaceful and happy way.
The following is a beginner level exercise. You should perform this exercise 3 to 5 times a day. It takes only five minutes and can be done virtually anywhere.
Download the attached wav file. You can put it on your computer, phone or tablet. The file itself is a simple metronome. The beats begin at 72 beats per minute and over a five-minute period gradually slows down.
First determine your breathing rhythm. Play the first 30 seconds of the file while paying attention to your breathing. Determine how many beats it takes to breath in naturally and how many beats it takes to breath out naturally. Once you get the real hang of this, you can skip this step and just play the recording from beginning to end.
Many people have different numbers for breathing in and out. It doesn’t matter. We are just determining the base-line.
Start the recording over. Using your base numbers, focus your attention on your breathing while in your mind, counting, “In, two, three, …OUT, two, three…” Over the course of the five-minute recording, the beats will gradually slow down. Your job is to notice the change and you can respond to it in one of two ways. You can slow your breathing down to match the metronome, or you can change the number you count for each breath. The trick is in the noticing and adjusting.
If your mind wanders during the process, simply start counting again on the next breath.
You’ll notice an immediate relaxation benefit at the end of the exercise. As your practice of mindfulness becomes more fluid, you won’t need the metronome any more and you can practice for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, if you’d like. If you find you have trouble sleeping, this exercise is a great way to stop your mind racing, relax your body and fall asleep.
Over time, you’ll notice changes in your general levels of stress, anxiety or depression and your thinking will become clearer.