When people talk about mindfulness, does it conjure up ideas of sitting with your eyes closed, trying to clear your mind? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Mindfulness can be practised standing up, brushing your teeth and even while eating your dinner. This week’s activity shows that you can practise mindfulness wherever you are, so you can easily fit it into your day.
It’s been a while since I posted about mindfulness, so let’s have a quick recap. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing and accepting, rather than judging, our thoughts, feelings and sensations that occur in the present moment. In other words, it’s all about focusing on the here and now – not getting lost in our thoughts and feelings, which can sometimes be detrimental to our wellbeing.
There are multiple benefits to practising mindfulness, including:
- Reducing repetitive negative thinking, allowing us to step back from stressful and emotional situations
- Reducing pain
- Improving quality of life
- Reducing symptoms of depression
Furthermore, the more we practise mindfulness, the longer the positive effects on our wellbeing last.
If mindfulness is good for us, why do we struggle to fit it into our lives? Only 8% of adults in the United States use meditation, however this covers mindfulness as well as other types of meditation. This suggests even fewer people practise mindfulness regularly. Despite the lack of mindfulness in our lives, it appears we could benefit from it, as 47% of the time, our minds wander, and this is linked with unhappiness.
A world of shapes
With this in mind, this week’s activity is a simple way to introduce mindfulness – through shapes. Yes, shapes.
Typically, we learn about shapes when we’re children, but as adults, even if we know the names of many shapes, we often don’t notice how they make up almost every aspect of our world. The world itself is a sphere, the screen you’re reading this on is a rectangle, the bag you carry may be a mixture of cylinders and squares…the list goes on.
Noticing the shapes around you
This week’s activity is to spend 15 minutes noticing all the different shapes around you. You can do this wherever you are, if you are standing, sitting or moving. The aim of this is to help clear your mind by focusing on the environment around you and hopefully evoke a sense of calm. I find this activity particularly useful when I’m feeling anxious, as it slows down my racing thoughts.
As you notice the different shapes around you, remember to think in 2D and 3D (i.e. squares and cubes) and name them either aloud or in your head. If you don’t know the name of a shape, just describe what you see. For example, leaves aren’t typically a geometric shape. You could describe some leaves as oval, with the edges meeting in a pointy tip, with ridges across the leaf making curved, rectangular-like shapes.
When looking for shapes, why not try noticing:
- What’s above you
- What’s below you
- Anything you are holding
- What you are sitting or walking on
- The details on something right in front of you. For example, I was sitting on the bus and noticed this stop sign button consisted of circles, crosses, an oval, a cube and a sort of curved cuboid
You can do this week’s activity without a worksheet, but if you’re struggling with how to start, I’ve created a worksheet with specific questions about a picture with different shapes. You can click the link below to download the worksheet.
If you’d like to share your pictures of all the shapes you’ve noticed, or share how you found this mindful activity, please do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
I share wellbeing-related research, news and stories on twitter and Instagram in between weekly blog posts so do follow @15minwellbeing on both platforms to keep up to date. This week, I will also be posting pictures and videos to help encourage you to notice the different shapes around you.