This is a therapy exercise I’m currently enamored with, and one that lots of clients are really liking.
Its an adapted version of an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy activity.
As well as being really effective, it’s easy and not time consuming. Don’t ya love that!
This exercise involves taking yourself for a walk around the block (about 5 minutes). I quite often do this with clients during sessions i.e. walk around the block with them.
Before you go, write yourself a note with the following info on it. After a few times of practicing you won’t need the note anymore.
START OF NOTE
– Emotion (A way to distinguish between emotions and thoughts is that emotions are generally those single emotion words e.g. sad, lonely. Pretty much anything else is a thought, even though we often say “I feel…” when referring to our thoughts)
– Sensation (meaning physical sensation e.g. wind on face, heartbeat)
– Impulse (meaning an impulse to do a behaviour e.g. brush your hair out of your face).
– Image (a thought that comes as a picture/video in your mind)
END OF NOTE
As you walk, say the word “sensation,” “thought” etc, each time one of those things comes up. For example you might end up saying
Don’t do anything more, just label the category of the experience and wait for the next experience to come. If you walk along for a little bit without labeling anything, that’s fine.
Note that for this exercise you don’t describe the content of the thought or label which emotion you’re having etc. You just label which category of experience it is.
If you have an impulse (e.g. to scratch your face) you can go ahead and do it, just label the experience “impulse” before taking the action. This is good practice off putting a pause in between experiencing an impulse and acting on it.
What’s the point
– To have an experience of the transitory nature of your thoughts, emotions etc. They naturally come and go, and repeat.
– To have an experience of not trying to control which experiences you have.
– To have an experience of how the content of experiences (e.g. the content of your thoughts) is often quite meaningless.
– To start to trust that whatever experiences you are having, they will come and go.
How Often To Do This?
In my experience, its good to find some “everyday mindfulness-ish” activities like this one that you want to incorporate into your life on a regular basis. You might do some for awhile and then change it up, and sometimes go back to ones you have used previously.
If you find you like exercise, great. You could incorporate it into your life by walking around the block on your morning tea break or whatever.
If not there are plenty of others, and you can design your own. I mentioned in this previous post that I do a couple of minutes of paying attention to the present moment on my drive to the office. Literally, a couple of minutes.