So here is a dose of real-time honesty for you… I’m currently awaiting results for a Covid Test. Just being prudent, low likelihood, but the well-beyond-24-hour wait time is definitely stretching my every mindfulness muscle. Some days, in some scenarios, those muscles seem weaker than others. Anyone relate?
I want to be able to see family, see patients, get groceries, …you know, do life. Patience can be hard. I had a ton of work to catch up on, and was focused for small chunks of time, but mostly I was a hyped-up squirrel in a field of hidden nuts. Yogis call it the monkey mind. So many animal metaphors for these things…
For a split second there, (ahem…most of the day), I forgot many of the tools at my disposal. I was calm and collected throughout my morning mediation and asana practice. Ahhh. And then I wasn’t.
After hours of this work-inefficient, gut-destroying, muscle-tensing distractedness, I took a breath and remembered. Oh yes, I am actually in control of my mind and attention. Oh yes, mindfulness. The results will come. I started taking deeper, slower breaths, the kind I had not taken since the morning’s practices. Everything slowed right down, my body and brain felt nourished again. Mine again.
I was immediately reminded of the popular 54321 Grounding Technique that so many therapists use with those suffering from anxiety or panic disorders. I’ve used this with many patients of my own. I’m fortunate enough to not have need of it on most occasions. But today, I need alllll the tools. It uses all five of our senses to re-anchor us to the present and thus stop the vicious cycle of past or future worry, spiralling thoughts or even in-the-moment impatience for something to happen. Let us go through it together:
– Take a few long, deep breaths – in through the nose, out through the nose or mouth.
– 5: Notice 5 things in your current environment that you can SEE. Really look at the various objects, see as though seeing for the first time. What do you notice about each?
– 4: Notice 4 things that you can TOUCH / FEEL. What textures do you notice if you reach out to touch something? Anything pressures or sensations you can feel without using your hands?
– 3: Notice 3 things that you can HEAR if you stop right where you are and pay attention. One thing may be loud and obnoxious, another may be soft and subtle. It may be as specific as a car horn or as general as white noise or a soft hum.
– 2: Notice 2 things that you can SMELL. Food or drink that is near to you, environmental scents if you’re outdoors or have a window open, your own perfume or the natural scent of your skin?
– 1: Notice 1 thing that you can TASTE. The taste of coffee or tea from earlier? Toothpaste? Anything you can pinpoint? Even if you can’t name it, notice it.
Patience (just like calm) is a practice. I continue to learn this.
I thought maybe you needed this today like I did.