Haven’t got time to slow down? How about the following. They take 90 seconds or less, and believe me, you WILL notice a difference in your day if you can insert some of these mini-mindfulness skills:
1. As you prepare to eat something, STOP. Sit down. Smell your food. Go on, really smell it. Next, notice the colours and textures of the food. Watch what is revealed when your utensil moves through the food. In other words, put down the newspaper, turn off the TV and give some consideration to the enjoyment (or not) of placing this food into your body. Notice how it feels in your mouth, on your tongue. Savour the flavours, identify the ingredients as though you were a celebrity chef examining a dish. Think about how this meal will help your body (or not). Take another bite. Enjoy! BONUS: This skill has been shown to greatly assist with maintaining a healthy weight.
2. Take 90 seconds every 90 minutes: Set your mobile phone or computer alarm to sound every 90 minutes. When the alarm sounds, STOP whatever you are doing, whether it’s reading email, getting dressed, or making a sandwich. Sit down. Close your eyes (or if this will be socially strange, just look at a point on the floor in front of your feet). Follow your breath with your mind’s eye as it moves from your nose to your throat through your chest to your belly and then all the way back. Do this for only 90 seconds. Sound simple? Let me know what you think of the results. I’ve seen this technique work wonders.
3. Each time you get trapped by a red light whilst driving, take a leaf from the book of the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, and surrender to the situation. Take this moment as an opportunity to loosen your death-grip on the steering wheel, drop your shoulders away from your ears, and BREATHE. It’s either that or sit there with gritted teeth fruitlessly urging the light to change. Your choice! PS. This time don’t close your eyes.
4. Sleepless in the middle of the night? Great! You now have time for some mindfulness practice. How many sensations can you feel with your body? Check those within, such as pain, tightness, the chest moving with the breath. Then check those without which might include the coolness of the sheets, the weight of the doona, the toes touching each other. Try to list at least five sensations in each category. Then breathe. Peacefully.
5. Are you boring holes into the back of the head of the person holding up a queue, silently urging them to move on? Having fantasies about giving them a good talking to? Notice your heart rate, muscle tension, and posture. See whether you can loosen up your body and breathe. Remember the ancient adage of the watched pot. Distract yourself by focusing intensely on your surroundings. What kind of haircuts do the people around you have? How many colours do you see in your surroundings. Does anyone have silly shoes? Basically, is there anything interesting or noteworthy to be gleaned from your environment. Crack a smile and notice what happens in your body.
Maybe you have some fun, interesting or just really workable ideas too? Love to hear them. Happy practising 90 every 90.