Do your thoughts ever mindlessly wander from one thing to the next? Do you find yourself easily distracted at times? Today's Monday Dose of Mindfulness exercise will help you to train your brain to focus your attention on a single object. With practice, you will enhance your ability to maintain your focus in your day to day life. If you want to improve your ability to focus, practice this exercise once or twice a day for at least 2-3 weeks. This exercise only takes a few minutes to practice, so it could easily be made part of a morning routine or consider setting a midday alarm to remind you to practice this short mindfulness exercise.
*Reminder: It is completely normal for your attention to wander at some point during this mindfulness exercise, so when this occurs simply note it without judging it and try to shift your attention back to the object that you are observing.
Instructions for Practicing this Exercise:
Pick a small object to focus on. Try to pick something that is emotionally neutral. Examples include a plant, a small jar, a watch or piece of jewelry, a cup, or a pen. I recommend selecting a different object each time you repeat this exercise.
Sit in a comfortable position with the object in front of you. If you have a timer, set the timer for a few minutes, perhaps 3 minutes in the beginning with the intention of increasing to 5 minutes over time.
Begin by taking a few slow, deep breaths.
Look at the object and, rather than labeling the object, begin observing the object with beginner's mind (i.e., as if it is the first time you have ever seen this object or anything similar). Describe the object in as much detail as possible.
Take your time exploring the surfaces of the object with your eyes. As you look at the object, ask yourself the following questions:
Is it a single color or are there multiple colors?
Is it transparent or opaque?
Is it shiny or dull in appearance?
Does the surface texture look rough or smooth?
How would I describe the object's shape?
What else can I note about how the object looks?
Now reach out and touch the object or hold it in your hand, if possible. Observe how the object feels and consider the following questions:
Does it feel smooth or rough?
Is the surface flat or does it have any raised or lowered areas?
Is it soft or hard?
Is it bendable or rigid?
Does the object feel the same all over, or do some areas feel different than other areas?
How heavy does it feel? (if holding the object in your hand)
What else can I note about the way the object feels?
Continue to observe and describe the object to yourself until your alarm goes off or until you are unable to make any additional observations.
Remember to check back for more mindfulness exercises on Mondays!