Instructions for "Finding Your Feet":
Your feet are the furthest place from your head that you can get, and they are quiet experts at supporting you. Tuning in to the direct sensations in your feet facilitates a time away from the endless chatter in your mind, and lets you get in touch with the here and now.
This is a great practice for when you're stuck in a queue, when you feel anxious, or as a time out from a busy day at work. It's also fun to just do it outside on the grass or on a sandy beach when you feel like it, just like when you were a kid.
Grounding regularly is important when we live so much in our heads, so when your head gets busy and you need a break, find your feet.
"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." ~Khalil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923
Instructions for "3 Step Breathing Space":
Adopt an erect and dignified posture, and close your eyes.
Step 1 - Become aware of your inner experience in this moment.
What thoughts are in your mind? As best you can, see them as mental events, don't get involved with them. Label them, 'thinking'.
What feelings are present? Acknowledge whatever is present, and if it's unpleasant, try to turn toward it, and not away.
What sensations are in the body? Quickly scan the body to see what you notice, are there any sensations of tightness or contraction?
Step 2 - Focus your attention on the breath at the abdomen.
As best you can, focus on the sensations in the abdomen as it rises and falls with the breath. Remain here for at least three full breaths. If the mind wanders, gently and kindly bring it back to the breath.
Step 3 - Expand the attention to the body as a whole.
Check in with your posture, notice your facial expression. If you notice any sensations of discomfort or tension, invite the next in-breath to soften and relax the area. Expand the attention again to include the body in the room and any sensations of touch or pressure on your chair or the floor.
Gradually begin to open your attention to sounds in the room, the feeling of the air around you, and when you're ready, open the eyes and continue with your day.
The 3 - Step breathing space is a fundamental part of any good mindfulness program. It trains us to step out of the auto pilot mode we spend so much of our time in, and take charge of our attention again. When we are on auto pilot, we are prone to the rumination that leads to depression, and the over-thinking that leads to anxiety.
Set a reminder on your phone or smart watch to pause for a 3 Step Breathing Space at least 3 times a day, and if you feel a strong emotion, see if you can remember to use the practice.
"The breathing space sets us up to encounter life in a different frame of mind, coming fully home to the present, rather than just giving ourselves a break from thinking." - Teasdale, Williams, & Segal
It's been a while since I wrote a Weekly Minute, I deliberately took two weeks off in August, and those two weeks turned into 5! Apologies for leaving it so long!
It's been an interesting process watching the guilt build over the weeks, and still not sit myself down to write. The excuses each Sunday evening and Monday morning were reminiscent of avoiding school homework as a kid, putting it off until the last minute and never just getting it done so I could allow myself the joy of being free to play all weekend.
Observing this little dance of guilt and self-torment finally got boring (thankfully) and over the weekend I sat down and had a little chat with myself, to remember why I started the Weekly Minute in the first place. I remembered that:
This little chat with myself got me back in touch with the 'why' of sitting down each week to do this. When I forgot my 'why', it became another thing on my list that I had to do, and the joy and fulfilment went out of it.
If there's a practice that you have let slide, and you're doing the guilt dance, take this opportunity to hit reset. Sit yourself down, and remind yourself of why you started it in the first place, remember the values that inspired you in the beginning. Make a decision to let go of the guilt of not having done this thing, and just do it. There's no time like the present! In fact, there's only the present....
“Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one's own actions or lack of action.” ― Audre Lorde
The Weekly Minute is a blog I write each week with the aim of providing legitimate tools to help promote positive mental health.
The collection of short, practical mindfulness and therapy tools for self-reflection and self-improvement, can equip people to take their mental well-being into their own hands, and improve their quality of life.
The Weekly Minute is posted here every Monday, or you can sign up to get it delivered to your inbox via the link below.
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