We're practicing a different way of thinking about attention and mindfulness this week. Outside of formal mindfulness practice we can learn to be more aware of ourselves and our surroundings, and to get out of our heads.
Some people don’t take to mindfulness meditation - but it’s not the only way to become more mindful.
All of this week's challenges are about becoming aware that we can attend to different things in any situation and get better at this with practice.
Here are the challenges we set for Chris and Ginger this week:
1. Set an alarm on your phone with the label "awareness" for a particular time each day - When it goes off that's your cue to stop and take in your surroundings. Or if you're talking to someone observe the conversation from outside. Really pay attention to what the person is saying. What do you notice? How does it feel to do this?
2. Take a walk where your main intention for the walk is to notice things as you walk down the road. When you daydream or start to think about work or other things - just notice that and bring your attention back to noticing. How did it go? how did it feel when you got back after the walk?
3. Notice emotions when they start in your body. Notice the surge of anger. Notice the heartbeat of anxiety. Notice the flattening effect of sadness. Each time it happens take the position of the interested observer - notice that you can observe without responding. How did it feel?
We can get into the habit of only paying attention to difficult or upsetting thoughts and emotions. When that is the case it can feel like that is all we are experiencing. Starting the habit of attending to positive experiences is also a habit that can be cultivated. Start to notice and take note of enjoyable experiences, friendly interactions, delicious food. Some people find it helpful to start a gratitude journal - to note down at the end of each day the things they are grateful for.
When we feel distressed or overwhelmed it can feel like we are stuck in these experiences and will never get out. Starting to notice this and practice observing it from the outside can give a new perspective and get us out of our heads [link to Week 35: Getting Perspective]. Practice taking the position of the interested observer, rather than the position of feeling that emotions and thoughts control you. Have a look at our Getting Perspective [link to Week 35: Getting Perspective] week to read more about this.