Begin 2015 with an aim to be more present
There is never a better time to start something new than right now and, failing that, any natural beginning such as a new year. It’s amazing how many new clients always approach me at the beginning of the year and I like to believe this has more to do with intentions/resolutions than with medical aid funds being topped up!
You don’t need to see me or anyone else to make the resolution and to begin being more present in your life. Take a look at these simple exercises for you to introduce on a daily basis in order to slow down, become present and aware and find balance. As with any new habit you have to apply a little discipline initially but it will soon become second nature and something you really look forward to.
The Five Senses
“For there is no conception in man’s mind which hath not first been begotten upon the organs of sense” – Thomas Hobbes
The object of this exercise is to draw your attention away from your mind and into your body and presence. We are always so busy thinking and worrying that we forget to check in with ourselves to ask the questions: “How am I feeling emotionally?” “How am I feeling physically?” “Do I need to slow down?” “Do I need to listen to this little niggle and do something differently?” etc. This is how to become more conscious. Everything we know about the world and ourselves is informed by our senses. Every thought we have is a sensory thought. Every memory we have is a sensory memory. Yet we are so often unconscious of this process. Imagine being more conscious and thus being better able to control how you think or feel (and ultimately remember).
The process: Take at least five minutes of your time to sit in a quiet spot – this can be anywhere, however outside in nature is always best – and spend a moment taking note of each of your sense organs. What can you see, hear, smell, taste and touch? Hearing is both what you hear outside of you in the environment – differentiating the different sounds – as well as hearing what is going on inside you. This includes your thoughts as well as your inner guidance/inner voice. Your sense of taste can be enhanced by taking a sip of water, juice or whatever you have on hand and paying attention to what you taste. When focussing on touch this is what it feels like on the outside of your body and wherever your body makes contact with any other material -be it ground, a chair, clothes – as well as focussing on internal sensations, asking yourself some of the above-mentioned questions.
All senses are both physical and subtle. Starting by simply focussing on the physical senses will be of great benefit in itself and within time you will become more aware of your subtle senses as well.
Breathing down and breathing up
The benefits of this exercise are two-fold -firstly breathing on its own is very beneficial for slowing down, oxygenating the body and increasing energy, as well as expelling toxins and stress. Secondly, when focus in on the breath this is a distraction from the mind with its worries and thoughts and assists the process of inner awareness.
The process: Take at least five minutes of your time in a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed and preferably seated on a chair (although this could be done on a bed or couch). As you breathe in focus on the breath moving down the back of the body. As you breathe out focus on the breath moving up the front of the body. Take note of other sensations. You may also notice your incessant little mental voice reminding you what you have to buy from the shop, finish at work, cook for dinner, tell your wife etc. Simply breathe the voice out and carry on. Try not to judge as this will interrupt the whole process. Just observe the voice and breathe it out.
Have fun trying these and you can even take notes of your observations to really start to get to know yourself and your default setting. After all, you won’t notice something is out of balance until you know what balance is!
I would love to hear comments and questions on these two exercises.