I get asked a lot about mindfulness and how we can use it in everyday life.
An example. My psychotherapy clients often talk about how they have a problem saying ‘No’ to others. Their friends, sometimes even their therapist, will say: ‘Oh, you allow others to cross your boundaries! ‘ This may be the case, but what EXACTLY does it mean?
An inventive and powerful mindfulness exercise can help here. You CAN do this at home, but do this exercise with someone you trust.
Stand up. Your friend stands facing you about ten feet from you. They raise their arms to shoulder level, put their hands together and using their hands point right at you. In effect their hands create an arrow or beak shape. You stand still. Your friend, still pointing at you with their arrow or beak shaped hands, starts walking very slowly towards you. You remain still, facing them and you do NOT close your eyes. When your friend reaches a point, as they are slowly walking towards you, where you start feeling uncomfortable because of their pointing hands, tell them to stop. This is WHERE your boundary is.
How close to your body this happens may surprise you. Some of us shout ‘stop’ when our friend is three or four feet away. Others not until the pointed hands are six inches away from our face. Others find they cannot shout ‘stop’ at all. Here mindfulness will help you understand where you put your boundary in everyday life: do you prefer others very much on the outside or are you happy to let them close in?
Remember this exercise is not about intimacy, but about saying ‘No’ when others have overstepped the mark. When you no longer feel comfortable. If you don’t know WHERE that is, how can you expect others to know?