Using the senses can be a helpful way to pull your attention to the present moment no matter where you are, centre yourself and engage with your environment. You can practise throughout the day, especially any time you find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts and feelings. Here is an exercise you can do to play with paying attention to things you might not usually notice.
Try to notice five things:
Pause for a moment
Look around and notice 5 things you can see
Listen carefully and notice 5 things you can hear
Notice 5 things you can feel in contact with your body
Finally, do all of the above at the same time.
Mindfulness using the body
Going to a yoga class can be a great way to explore mindfulness of the body in a supported environment.
Studies from the US and India show mindfulness-based yoga programs in secondary schools can improve grades or mitigate decreases in grades across the school year, improve emotional regulation, improve memory, anger control and fatigue, improve mood and decrease anxiety. Many local studios will provide free or heavily discounted offers for introduction classes.
Another option might be to try to some gentle mindful stretching on your own or with a friend. You can try any stretches you like, while paying attention to what is happening in your body as a result of the stretch.
Pay attention to how the muscles feel, both during and in the few seconds after the stretch. Be aware of how the stretch might affect your breathing. Try to maintain a steady, calm, breath throughout the practice. If you mind wanders, just bring it back to the sensations in your body.
You can practise these measures at home around exam time, while you’re lining up to enter your exam, or even in the middle of your exam if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed. Taking a moment to slow your heart rate and calm your thoughts will pay off in the long run.