Mindfulness and wellbeing
Mindfulness experiences supporting positive wellbeing during COVID-19
How are you coping during this time of pandemic and with public health measures including social distancing? Mental Health commentators are forecasting an increase in mental illness, particularly anxiety. Alongside other pharmacological and therapeutic treatments, psychiatrists and psychologists use mindfulness to treat anxiety. What is ‘Mindfulness’? Mindfulness is not prayer, relaxation, deep breathing exercises, visualization, mediation or silence. However, relaxation and anxiety reduction may be a byproduct of mindfulness. Simply put, mindfulness is about ‘being present’ and supports positive wellbeing.
The ‘Observe a leaf’ exercise, which can be found here is a good example.
Observe a leaf mindfulness exercise
Collect a leaf off the ground from somewhere. It doesn’t matter what kind of leaf it is or what it looks like. Any leaf will do.
Hold it in your hands and allow your attention to be fully absorbed by it. Observe it.
Notice things about its physical characteristics.
For example, you could say to yourself, “I notice that this leaf has three sharp points on one side, and a rounded edge on the other.” Or, “I see there’s yellowish lines radiating out from the bottom to the top.”
Notice textures, colors, and shapes without judging them as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, ugly or beautiful.
Don’t assess or think about the leaf. Just observe it for what it is. Do this simple mindfulness exercise for five minutes.
As reflected in the exercise, in mindfulness we suspend judgement and observe with a beginners’ mind. What might surprise you is that great Religious traditions including Christianity practiced mindfulness as a spiritual discipline to ‘come to fuller truth’. For example, in Christianity, mindfulness supported pilgrims to observe and suspend their God images, in order to come to a fuller truth of God in Christ.
Five minute mindfulness of breath exercise
During this time of pandemic you might like to practice a simple form of mindfulness when you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. If you find guided experiences easier, in the video below, my voice will guide you through a 5 minute mindfulness of breath exercise.
Take care of yourself and others during this time.