Thursday, 9 December 2021

Mindful observation

Yesterday we started a week of posts on Twitter #fourweeksofwellbeing about mindfulness. Mindfulness is an ancient practice that is all about focusing the mind on the immediate present. If practised regularly, mindfulness is a great tool for calming your mind and reducing feelings of stress. 

There are many different ways to practise mindfulness and the method you choose really depends on what works best for you. It's good to try a few different things to see which ones you like best. 

Today we're looking at mindful observation and we have included a few options to try. 

Mindful observation enables you to really observe the world around you and to connect with it in a way that you perhaps have never done before. We often rush through life with our minds preoccupied with our thoughts and actually miss a lot as a result. Mindful meditations are great because they are simple, short, and require no equipment. It's best to find somewhere comfortable where you won't be disturbed and get practising. 

Exercise 1 - Mindful observation - Observe an object

Try this exercise, developed by Alfred James at Pocket Mindfulness.

  • Choose a natural object from within your immediate environment and focus on watching it for a minute or two. This could be a flower, a plant, or an insect, or even the clouds or the moon.
  • Don't do anything except notice the thing that you are looking at. Simply relax into a harmony for as long as your concentration allows.
  • Look at it as if you are seeing it for the first time. Visually explore every aspect of its formation. Allow yourself to be consumed by its presence. Allow yourself to connect with its energy and its role and purposes in the natural world.
TIP The good news is that while it is best to do these exercises from real life, if you can't get outside, images of nature have been shown to be effective for relaxation too. Why not take some photos when you're out and use them when your access to outdoors is limited. 

Exercise 2 - Observe your thoughts

This practice is from Fablefly, Mindfulness for teens and adults. The purpose of it is to show you that your mind is able to be still. It's a simple meditation in which you allow your thoughts to come and go and observe them in a passive way without judgement. 

With practice, you will find that you are able to immerse yourself in the experience and will be able to gently observe your thoughts coming and going but bring your mind back to your focus. It's not easy at first, but if you persevere, you will notice that these short breaks for your mind will really help you reset and manage stress.

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