Scenario: Imagine yourself at the doctor’s office, your phone is neatly tucked away out of reach. Suddenly, your phone buzzes…Your mind starts to wonder about what it could be notifying you of. Did someone leave a comment on your latest IG post? Did an email response you were waiting on finally come through? Was it a breaking news alert? Was it a text message from someone who needs something from you?
Our minds have an incredible talent for making up stories and spinning their own narrative. This makes it very hard to stay in the present moment. Yet, present moment awareness is a key part of a Mindfulness Practice. Mindfulness in itself is defined as “paying attention on purpose, without judgment”. In the case of the above scenario, most people already find the doctor’s office an uncomfortable place to be in the first place. Usually, they are trying to distract themselves with their phone or by reading the latest gossip magazine that has been provided. Fast forward to the part of the doctor’s visit where you are no longer able to have your phone but you are forced to sit there in silence staring at the generic paintings on the wall or your doctor’s diplomas. This is one of those times that you can practice present moment awareness. Allowing yourself to notice any discomfort or anxiousness that is coming up for you when you are forced to sit and do nothing. Getting curious as to why you feel this way. We are conditioned to be in the constant state of doing and not as much emphasis is given to the state of simply being.
Here is how you can start a simple practice:
Begin to notice the breath. Noticing but not changing. Inhaling through the nose, exhaling back out through the nose. This is a moment where you can use your surroundings as a way to anchor yourself in the moment. Start by simply observing your surroundings. Use your senses as your guide. Sight: Maybe for the first time you notice a picture of your doctor’s family on vacation, children’s artwork hung on the wall or even family pets! Maybe you notice how uncomfortably realistic that one diagram or display actually is. Allow yourself a little fun with this exercise. Sound: Close your eyes and listen. What is the closest sound you notice? Perhaps the hum of the air conditioning system or the crinkle of the paper underneath you. What is the farthest sound you notice? Can you hear the nurses typing up reports or the general chatter of the office? Smell: What are the smells in the room? Sanitization has such a distinct smell. What do you notice? Perhaps you even can smell your own perfume or shampoo.
You might feel at the end of this practice that it actually felt good to be disconnected from technology for a few moments. Even if you have been in this particular room many times before, you might have noticed things this time that you hadn’t before. You gave yourself a moment to simply be. A moment to be present, silent and observant. You may even notice that your heart rate and breathing have returned to their normal pace. Mindfulness practice allows us to create space for these moments. It doesn’t have to be ONE MORE THING that you are adding to your well-being repertoire. It can easily be integrated into things you are already doing. Where else in your day-to-day could you integrate a mindfulness practice?