A few years ago, when I was under a good deal of anxiety, I walked a lot and found it helpful especially when I took a mindful approach to at least part of the walk. So I created this set of stages which I still use on my walks. They incorporate mindfulness, acceptance, self-compassion, affirmation, positivity and a reminder that, also, we need add a little courage to the mix.
You could also do this in bed, or sitting down, or standing in a queue, but I normally do it when I’m walking.
I’ve included visual symbols which help me to remember each of the steps. Here goes:
1 – What five things am I aware of right now?
This means what am I aware of my vicinity? So it could be people, traffic, trees, sounds, the feeling of my feet against the ground, the smell of flowers or shrubs. Or it could be my own breathing, my posture, maybe a physical feeling I have.
Symbol: The sun, representing the light of awareness.
2 – What five things do I accept right now?
This could be how I feel, or something that is happening in my world or in somebody else’s. It could even be the weather.
Symbol: Visualise a bowl which is accepting the light from the sun. So the light of awareness is now held in the bowl of acceptance.
3 – Bring awareness to my breath.
This means observing a number of in-breaths and out-breaths. For me this usually means five in-breaths and out-breaths. But the number isn’t really all that important, it could be fewer or more.
Symbol: Imagine the light being drawn up out of the bowl by your breath.
4 – Say an affirmation.
This means repeating, mentally, an affirmation that you find helpful. It turns your thoughts in a more useful direction. You can develop your own affirmations. Here are a few that I use:
‘My happiness does not depend on this.’ Note: Whatever is on my mind now will probably be forgotten about soon enough and probably won’t affect my overall happiness.
‘If I can find happiness in this I am liberated.’ Note: If you can find some happiness in unwanted situations then that’s a form of liberation: you don’t have to wait for the planets to align, so to speak, in order to have some happiness.
‘Life is not a game of chess.’ Note: I don’t have to spend every moment of my day, or of this walk, problem-solving. I can just ‘be.’
Symbol: The word ‘affirmation’ appears in the light that your breath drew out of the bowl.
5 – What’s positive?
List five things that are positive. This is just to help turn your mind in a lighter direction. It also helps you to avoid getting caught in a harmful loop of thoughts in which you attack yourself or other people or life in general over and over. The things that are positive don’t have to be about the main issue that is on your mind today. They could be that the sky is blue, that somebody you know is happy, that you’re looking forward to something tomorrow, that you are able to make the choice to go on a walk like this.
Symbol: The light becomes a circle in the sky, in other words becomes the sun again, representing what’s positive.
6 – Remember self-compassion.
This means reminding yourself that you will still be your own true friend at the end of the day whatever may happen. Or it could be at the end of a piece of work you’re doing, or of a social event you’re unsure about.
Symbol: The sun becomes a heart.
7 – Remember courage.
This means connecting with your own power. It means knowing what your intentions are and doing what needs to be done even if you feel nervous about it.
Symbol: The heart becomes a shield that could be held by a warrior, a male or female warrior as you wish.
For more mindfulness ideas see my online Easy Mindfulness Course. Its 15 lessons cover all aspects of mindfulness and includes many exercises and practices. Payment by donation so it’s affordable to all. Learn more
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