Can something you do for a few minutes everyday really improve your life? Many people affirm that daily mindful practices make a big difference in their lives: they feel less anxious, develop a growing sense of safety and security, and gain deeper personal insight from living more mindfully.
It’s all about becoming more observant, objective, and open to our experiences. Observation increases awareness of what we experience by aiming and sustaining our focus of attention. Objectivity helps us to recognize the difference between being aware of something and the object of our attention. For instance, objectivity enables me to observe a self-critical thought without assuming its judgment is true of me: I realize that my thoughts don’t define me. Openness teaches us to approach experiences by accepting what is, rather than reacting to a narrow range of what should be. In the process we begin to to perceive a wider range of possibilities. And we move toward observation, objectivity, and openness not by changing religions, but by engaging mindfulness practices. Today’s mindful tip gives us an activity we can do daily to practice observation and objectivity.
Mindful Monday Tip #14: A Mindful Walk
- Pick a venue to take a mindful walk: outside in a yard, park, woods or sidewalk, or inside in a room or hallway in your home, workplace, or other building.
- With each step you take, focus your awareness on your lower legs and feet, and observe sensations in this part of your body.
- As your mind draws your attention away from this part of your body, simply refocus your attention on your legs and feet.
- Experiment with focusing your attention on other parts of your body, and simply refocus whenever your attention strays.
What might you learn from this exercise? With consistent mindfulness practice, as you focus your attention (observation) and refocus it whenever it strays, you will move toward greater objectivity in which you separate the awareness process from the object of your awareness. Applying this approach to thoughts and feelings, you’ll eventually discover that the thoughts and feelings that seem to define you are experiences you have, not your identity. One mindful walk won’t magically bring about this discovery, but it could begin a series of daily mindful practices that move you in this direction and improve your life.
The inspiration for this post came from Mindsight: the New Science of Personal Transformation by Dr. Daniel Siegel.