In Friday’s tip, we discussed how being outside is good for our mental health and we want you to do so in ways that are safe and socially responsible! Today, we are going to build off the idea of getting outside by integrating mindfulness into this activity. Here is simple mindfulness exercise that will help you feel more connected to your environment, helping you feel calmer and more present-focused.
When you are ready, go outside to a place where you can be safely distanced from others and have a few moments to yourself. To begin, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Focus on those breaths, bringing yourself to the present moment where you are connected to all that is around you.
- Then, open your eyes and acknowledge 5 things that you can see in the space around you. Look at these things closely, taking in all their details. Maybe you can notice features of these things that you normally would not if you were not paying such close attention. Do you see anything that surprises you?
- Next, feel 4 things in your surrounding environment. Notice the texture, how these things might feel in your hand or against your skin. These things could be something in your immediate vicinity or maybe something you are wearing or even the breeze that may be blowing.
- Then, identify 3 sounds that are around you. Where are the sounds coming from? Can you identify what the sounds are? Pay close attention and try to distinguish different sounds from one another.
- Next, notice 2 things that you can smell…just allow whatever is in the air to come to you. If you can’t smell anything, that is okay! Just notice and accept that fact.
- Finally, focus on 1 thing that you can taste in your mouth. It might be the lingering taste of food or drink, maybe it’s the gum or mint you just had, or it might just be your own tongue/mouth. Whatever it might be, focus your attention on it for a moment.
After completing these 5 steps, close your eyes again and take a few more deep breaths. What was this experience like for you? Think about what you noticed with all of your senses, what may have come into your awareness. As you do, think about how you now feel in relation to being outside.
If you are beginning to engage in mindfulness practice, a helpful addition can be to journal about your experience. After you are done with each one, you can make a few notes to yourself about your experience…the sensations, feelings, thoughts you had while doing it…you might even note how your presence, awareness and relationship with yourself is changing as you practice. If you want, you also can share your observations with people who support you…especially if they are engaging in their own mindfulness practice. Doing so would be another way to be connected.