Life in the Present: An Exercise in Mindfulness
Mindfulness. I love this word.
Mindfulness for me has come to represent an appreciation for everything. Even the awareness and appreciation of being able to be aware and appreciate. It encompasses big things like gratitude for health and loved ones. And it allows me to recognize little things like an unexpected visit from a monarch butterfly, or overhearing a boisterous belly-laugh. Mindfulness to me is endless possibility, and humbling in its simplicity.
As I become increasingly surrounded with electronic devices vying for my attention, mindfulness has become a powerful tool. I sit here at my Badger desk with two giant computer monitors endlessly undulating in real-time. Emails appear and disappear on my screen; there’s another question on Twitter. Not so long ago, I found myself feeling overwhelmed and frazzled by it all. Too much multitasking, not enough getting things done. Endless to-do lists. So I decided to do something about it.
I created a little mindfulness exercise using a 2 ounce tin of balm (something I always have on my desk but you can substitute it with the object of your choice). This quick and discreet exercise works wonders for me, and maybe it will inspire you too! Just keep in mind that I’m not any sort of practitioner, guru, mystic, doctor, or psychic. I’m literally just a girl with a desk job, and this is what works for me.
This exercise can take as little or as much time as you have, and can be done anywhere. I try to do it for at least 10 minutes, and usually apply some Yoga & Meditation Balm under my nose to aid the process.
Step one: touch
First, pick up the tin (or the object of your choice). Then take a deep breath. Close your eyes. What’s the first thing you notice?
The first thing I notice is that the tin is cool, and it feels solid. How heavy is it? I examine the outside of the tin with my fingertips. Sometimes I can feel little scratches in the paint. Sometimes a dent. New tins feel as smooth as undisturbed water. I imagine a lake at sunrise.
Step two: sound
Take another deep breath, and tap the top of the tin. What does it sound like? Does the sound change if you tap closer to the center? Does the sound remind you of anything?
I recall the sound of rain on a barrel behind the shed. I can almost smell the wet grass.
Step three: sight
Open your eyes, and take another deep breath. What do you see? One of the reasons I love doing this exercise with Badger tins is because I feel like there’s always something more to see in the artwork. Today, I am using After Sun Balm, and I can almost imagine the trees swaying in the Bali breeze. The ocean and sky are my favorite shade of blue.
Step four: smell
Open the tin, and take a deep breath. What’s the first thing you notice? For me, the aroma of lime is the first thing I notice. I think that’s because I love the smell of limes. The next thing I notice is the flower essences mixed with the earthy smell of cocoa and shea butter. This makes me want to put it right on my skin – which I usually do!
If you’re using an object other than a balm, close your eyes and smell it anyway. Does it have a smell? If not, look at the object. Sometimes it seems as though I can almost smell the oil paint on the canvas pictured in the After Sun Balm art! Allow your imagination to wander. There is no wrong way to do this!
Step five: all together now
For the final part of the exercise, I try to combine all of these experiences. I look at the tin, open it and smell it, close it and roll it around in my hands. I try my best to be present at this very moment, and to appreciate all the little details about this one single object.
This is the essence of mindfulness.
For me this little exercise clears my mind and allows me to approach my to-do list refreshed and refocused. Regardless of the approach you take, remember to take time for yourself each day.
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