At a recent meeting with colleagues, I facilitated a 15 minute opening session on mindfulness or also known as ‘practicing presence.’ The use of these 2 terms help remove the stigma that some have about the word ‘meditation’ and religious connotations. I explained this would be a brief time for self-compassion, something we so often tend to not do in our busy lives.
Step 1: I asked the learners if they have ever done body scans and/or mindfulness activities. I obtained a wide range of responses. I shared what mindfulness is- being in the moment, focusing attention on the environment around them and what is going on internally & physically with themselves while also being intentionally non-judgmental.
Step 2: I asked the group to sit comfortably, with their feet flat on the floor, hands in their laps or on their sides and were welcomed to close their eyes or to focus on a point on the carpet in front of them. I told them we’d be taking 2-3 minutes to do a quick body scan to help us ground ourselves in the moment. With a gentle voice, I guided them through the process, starting with them taking deep breaths, then feel their feet, shoes, soles, and let go of any tension while intentionally breathing deeply. We then moved up the body- legs, hips, backside, back, arms, hands, shoulders, neck, head and reminded them to keep breathing, noticing what is happening at the moment. What sounds do they hear? Smells? Feel? Are they being non-judgmental? Are they focused on the moment and their presence in that moment with our group?
Step 3: I guided them out of the body scan. I had them write on a 3×5 card their experiences that could include: What did they notice? What was easy for them? hard for them? Insights? Applications to their own lives- personally and professionally? I gave them 2 minutes and then they shared with a partner or triad.
Step 4: To bring closure to the mini lesson, I discussed gratitude. I shared some of my own for that day and a few from the previous day. I explained how it reminds me of how blessed I am in so many ways and helps me reframe negative thinking I may encounter. That positive thinking helps me appreciate all I have and actually helps my quality of life. I asked them to take another 3×5 card and to list 2-3 items for which they are grateful.
Step 5: I gave them about 1 minute to do this and then had them circulate the room (about 30 of us) to share with someone they have not spoken to in at least 3 days due to how our schedules all vary and we often are out in the field doing our work. This was to help people reconnect and feel part of the group, our commonalities. I had them switch partners 2 times and then we came back together as a whole group.
Step 6: A 1-2 minute debrief was held to discuss how they were feeling. Did they feel more positive? more focused? Less racing thoughts about their past day or the day ahead? Tension versus relaxed? More ‘present’? Then we moved to the agenda for our meeting.