Mindfulness in daily life

 

Three minutes of calm

When there is a lot going on, in the world and also perhaps in our personal lives, I find it helpful to intentionally include practices during the day which are grounding and calming. Today I’d like to share three simple practices which can offer us little ‘sanctuaries of calmness’, and which are easy to include during a busy day:

1) Tapping the scalp. Using your five fingers, gently tap your scalp from front to back. You can begin either side of an imaginary line at the top of your head, starting just above your forehead and tapping back until you reach the neck, then starting back at the front again a little further away from the central line, each time tapping in a line from front to back and gradually working your way down the side of the head.  Sometimes I like to extend the tapping to the top of my shoulders and my upper back as well. The tapping can be gentle, like drops of water falling lightly on your head. Personally I find this very relaxing!

2) Close observation. Take three minutes to pay close attention to something in your environment. I love doing this in the garden, where I might be able to watch a bee assiduously pollinating a zucchini flower, or notice a praying mantis in the lemon tree (we had seen dozens of tiny praying mantises emerging from their nest months earlier), or watch young birch leaves swaying gently in the breeze. But this practice can also be done inside – for example, we can notice the effects of sunlight in a room, or look closely at a photo or painting we haven’t paid much attention to for a while, or sit with a steaming cup of tea or coffee and notice its taste and smell as we slowly sip it. We can also close our eyes and notice the rich soundscape around us, much of which we usually miss.

3) Listen to a calm piece of music. As a music therapist, this is one I really enjoy! It can be helpful to have a ‘go-to’ piece of music for this, rather than having to spend time trying to choose the ideal piece of music when we are very busy. I’ve made a Spotify playlist of pieces of music I find particularly calming and which I know very well, so it’s easy to choose from those when I want to take time out for a few minutes of relaxing music listening. You might like to make your own playlist of music which calms you, or to choose one particular piece of music which you have available whenever you need it.

Of course, life is not just about feeling calm, and there are many ways of managing our stress, which might include vigorous exercise or dancing, talking with family and friends, seeking counselling etc. At the same time, being intentional about including short periods of calmness in our day can be very grounding and nourishing. Above are a few suggestions, but of course you can choose any calming practice you like. Hopefully you will discover some easy and enjoyable ways of including a few extra minutes of calmness in your day.

Mindfulness practice idea:

This week, choose one or more of the practices above, and schedule a few short ‘calmness breaks’ into your day. Notice afterwards how the rest of the day feels.

Anja Tanhane