2 BEFRIENDING SILENCE
Be Mindful is an 8-week program to help students cope with test anxiety.
So in the previous session (From doing to being) we learned that Mindfulness is not a special estate that you have to get to. What we are doing is rather, cultivating access to awareness, becoming more aware of when we get lost in the thought stream and by practicing, learning how to redirect and focus.
I absolutely adore the expression «Befriending silence» which is, as a matter of fact, growing more comfortable with being your own company. Befriending silence when you are sitting there, just breathing, can be practiced by focusing on your thoughts and surrounding sounds, for instance.
I am sharing here a favourite by Mark Williams and Danny Penman.
You may wonder what we are doing this for, at first, and I can tell you that my experience is (by practising this exercise of listening to the sounds) my ability to focus became bigger and better, and the most amazing was to start noticing that more and more people were asking how I could hear that (like my sense of hearing was growing more acute). Or «how come you have seen me coming» like colleagues would exclaim «if I have walked in so silently!». I noticed I was cultivating awareness of things happening around: conversations, movements, expressions, emotions and behaviours.
By befriending silence through sitting, breathing, and paying attention to our thoughts, to the sounds, or focusing on sensations when scanning our body, we are developing this ability to connect to our inner and outer experiences. There is no need to sit for long to begin with, however, you may notice that every day you stay a little longer and what is happening is that you are becoming more comfortable with being in silence, more comfortable in your own company, more comfortable with yourself and more aware of the others.
what this has to do with exams
You might be wondering what Befriending silence really has to do with exams!! And the interesting thing is this Mindfulness practice that can help us redirect and focus on breathing again when we get carried away by our thoughts, actually can help us outside the practice as well, for instance, when we are trying to concentrate and work, read or study. Our brain is getting trained to redirect and focus and the exercise of redirecting and focusing works for building up our concentration skills when we are preparing for our exams or right there when we are about to make a final decisive speech in front of the examiners and emotions have taken over. The practice also helps us reduce anxiety as our body and mind will have memorised how to restore calm breathing slowly and surely thanks to the usual practice.
Repeat these practices regularly.
Is anything changing?