Mindful presence can be practiced through a range of meditative techniques. It allows the participant to let go of worries about past and future and become fully immersed in the experience of the present. At FoAM we use mindfulness techniques as a 'check-in' exercise (helping participants arrive and settle into a session) in moments that need a slower pace (e.g. after lunch), or when 'groupthink' or a conflict threaten to narrow the process prematurely. Here we will list a few simple techniques that we frequently use and several links to other effective exercises.

See also Mindfulness as an aptitude.


Broadening attention

This short meditation is aimed at mindfully shifting attention from inner sensation to the outer world, and can provide a sense of focus as well as connectedness.

Process

The ideal space for this exercise is spacious and comfortable, with room for everyone to sit or lie down.

Step 1: Invite participants to make themselves comfortable (in any position they like) and explain that you are going to guide them through a meditative exercise that they can do with their eyes open or closed, whatever feels right at that moment. Mention the duration of the exercise (5–15 minutes is sufficient in a futuring session). After everyone finds their spot, guide the group using something like the following instructions:

Step 1: 'Focus your attention on your breath, and notice how the air moves through your nostrils, lifting your chest and your belly. Follow the air in and out and observe the changes in temperature, flow and rhythm.'

Step 2: 'Imagine your attention as a beam of light, now focused narrowly on your breath alone. Then slowly broaden the beam to include your whole body and all the sensations associated with the body: the contact points with the chair or floor, the movement of air around your body (which becomes your breath), any other sensations of temperature, pressure, tension, pain or anything else you might feel at this moment.'

Step 3: 'Slowly widen your attention to encompass the sounds you hear. Don’t search for sounds, just notice what’s around. Notice the silences between the sounds. Remind yourself that the sounds come to your ears through the air, which at the same time envelops your body and replenishes your breath. Listen and breathe, and allow your attention to encompass it all.'

Step 4: 'Become aware that the air that brings the sounds and fills your lungs also touches other beings in the room, filling their lungs as well. Widen your attention to include your breath, your body, the sounds, the air and the room as a whole, with everyone and everything in it. Your skin as a porous membrane that allows a continuous exchange between the inside and the outside. Extend your attention all the way to the walls (or other boundaries) of the room and observe. Keep breathing…'

Step 5: 'Finally allow your attention to become boundless – from your breath to your body, the air, the atmosphere and beyond… A continuous exchange and shifting of connections, and an awareness that can hold it all, here and now.'

Step 6: 'Gradually narrow the beam of your attention back to your body and your breath. Allow yourself to arrive in this space, at this moment, and experience what it feels like to be fully present and attentive.'


Eating a leaf

This is an individual exercise to focus on the richness of sensory stimuli that are present in every experience. It is based on the 'eating one raisin' mindfulness exercise.

Process

Set up the space as a circle with a mint plant in the middle.

Step 1: Pick up the plant and walk around the circle. Invite each participant to carefully pluck a leaf and place it in their palm. Guide the participants through the following steps using instructions such as:

Step 2: 'Have a good long look at the leaf in your palm. Imagine you never saw a leaf before. What do you see? The shades of green, the rough veiny texture, the difference between its top and underside…'

Step 3: 'When you are ready, take the leaf between your fingers and touch it. First very gently, feeling the subtle changes of texture on the edges and the surfaces of the leaf. Then press a little harder, squeezing the juices out of the cells, making the texture moist… Explore the surfaces. Press and roll, rotate and stroke…'

Step 4: 'When you feel the moment is right, bring the leaf to your ear and listen. What happens when you press it, fold it, or tear it a little? What do you hear? Small crackling noises as the cells break, or the sound of your skin rubbing against the leaf's surface?'

Step 5: 'Next bring the leaf under the nose and smell. Can you smell the green freshness of the chlorophyl or the pungency of the minty oils? What else can you discover?'

Step 6: 'Put the leaf against your lips, on your tongue, between your teeth. What can you taste? Is it bitter, refreshing, slightly salty from the sweat of your palms? Roll the leaf on your tongue, bite and chew it and see how its temperature and texture change, becoming warmer, gooey and liquid as it mixes with your saliva.'

Step 7: 'Swallow the leaf mindfully and remind yourself of the nourishment it provides: the fibres, the vitamins and essential oils to be slowly dissolved in your stomach and sent to your cells. Welcome the leaf into your body and thank the plant for its gift.'

Step 8: 'Take a few moments to just breathe.'

(Step 9): At the end of the exercise have a short round of reflections about the depth and breadth of an experience when all senses are engaged.


References

Read more about short mindfulness techniques: