Three Exercises in Mindfulness from Padraig O’Morain

1  Are you worth a moment?

Are you worth a moment of your own time? Can you allow yourself to just ‘be’ for a while, perhaps letting yourself enjoy the sensation of breathing?

Sometimes we allow ourselves to be pulled in all directions by the demands of others or of situations because we feel more ‘justified’ that way. But why should you go through life without ever taking a moment for yourself or feeling bad if you do, as though you’re caught in the middle of a tug of war? It’s important to be a friend to yourself as well as to others, and that can mean taking time out to simply ‘be’.

Practice

Connect with awareness of your breath several times a day: morning, mid-morning, lunchtime, mid-afternoon, evening, before sleep, perhaps. By insisting on doing this, by finding that time (sometimes you have to search even for such little spaces in the day), you affirm that you deserve that mindful moment.

2  Not a game of chess

Life is not a game of chess. You don’t have to spend all your time figuring out moves in your head or worrying about the future. See what awareness of the present moment has to offer instead.

We are problem solvers, but we take it too far. If we find ourselves at rest, at a loose end, we flip into problem-solving mode. Why not say instead: here is a moment in which I don’t actually have to solve any problems; and appreciate that? Too often, we walk around, heads down, solving problems in an imaginary future, while completely failing to see what is around us in this moment that we could appreciate.

Practice

Resolve that for half an hour or an hour a day you will not solve any problems in your life. You will simply spend your time being aware of what’s going on in the moment. Perhaps try it after you leave work – enjoy your leisure time without continuing to work in your head.

3  Be your own friend, no matter what

Can you pledge to be your own friend at the end of the day, whatever happens? Even if you make a mess of things; even if other people criticise you?

Sometimes we’re afraid of challenges because we fear how we will attack ourselves if we fail. Often though, the condemnation of ourselves by ourselves is tougher than criticism from others. But even if we are harshly criticised by others, we don’t have to join in by giving ourselves a kicking. Instead, we can, in a spirit of self-compassion, look at what we might need to change, and change it.

Practice

When you get up each morning, make a silent pledge to yourself that you will still be your own friend at the end of the day, whatever it may bring. That ‘whatever’ may include success or suffering or both. But know that you can rely on your own friendship, no matter what. If you like affirmations, use the phrase ‘True friend’ through the day.

Extract from Daily Calm: 100 daily reminders to help you build the mindfulness habit.

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