Letting the light in
A Five-minute mindfulness exercise for mothers to do at home
This is a guest post by Connie Boggis-Rolfe who uses this exercise in her work with anxious mothers and children.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, to be aware of where we are and what we’re doing.
It is so easy to be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Many parents would say that it is tricky to be present in the moment, given the inevitable distractions at home. A mindfulness exercise will help you to put those distractions to one side for a while and to feel more relaxed.
This mindfulness exercise uses your imagination to help you feel more grounded in your body. It is an exercise that is used in body-orientated psychotherapy to help men and woman to relax. This is a simplified version. The exercise may feel unusual at first, but try it yourself a few times and it will begin feel more normal.
First, find a colour or a source of light that delights you. If it is daytime it may be the sun creeping through the clouds, or a strong colour in a fabric cover in your room. If it is night, it may be a particular quality of the moon, or an orange street light. Please hold this ‘light or colour stream’ in mind.
Next do a body scan. While standing, begin to take slightly deeper breaths. Try a 60 second body scan. Start at the top of your head and mentally scan down your body. Note any areas of tightness or discomfort. Give your conscious attention to any areas like this that you find. What shape could you imagine it having? Continue with the scan.
You may also notice certain feelings or thoughts, perhaps some that are critical or anxious.
Now return to the positive colour or light that you chose. Focus on this and really think about it. Notice whether or not you can feel the pleasure that you first felt. Really explore this light; then imagine the light moving through and over your body.
Stay with this image, if you can. Imagine the light enfolding the area of your body that was causing you some tension.
To finish the exercise, let the light move down your body and then over your back.
What do you notice? You may have noticed subtle changes in your body temperature and that your body begins to feel different. Have you been surprised by anything new that you experienced, such as a smell? Did any new pleasant memories come to the surface?
Find a word to capture the ‘light or colour stream’ that you have been imagining. Whisper this word to yourself if you find anxiety creeping back in.
I hope this exercise leaves you feeling more relaxed.