The Healthy Mind Platter - Time In

by DevorahTockar 01 Apr 2021

Article 5 of 8 Theme Focussing on the Healthy Mind Platter created by Dr Daniel Siegel and Dr David Rock

Disclaimer: The original framework of Healthy Mind Platter can be found at https://drdansiegel.com/healthy-mind-platter/ The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the intended views of the creators of the Health Mind Platter; Dr Daniel Siegel and Dr David Rock.

Time In.

From all 7 activities in the Healthy Mind Platter this one may be my favourite. Maybe because I find it so challenging at times, and maybe because I see the positive impace almost immediately. 

Time-In is our reflection time. A time for us to mindfully focus inwards and become attune to our bodily sensations, feelings and thoughts- without judgement.

There are so many ways to connect through this activity that I’ll have to dedicate a separate blog to it! 

Dr Siegel came up with the acronym SIFT for exploring our internal processes- Sensations, Images, Feelings and Thoughts. What physical sensations do I have? Are my shoulders tight, do I have butterflies fluttering in my stomach. Wnat images can I see? What am I feeling? Is it a pure feeling or a mixture? What am I thinking?

When we can look inwards and explore with curiosity, we can slow ourselves right down, enabling us to be present. Click here for a 1 min video of Dr Siegel explaining SIFT.

We can utilise this activity throughout our day when we are getting caught up in a moment and find our body responding with stress. We can also do this when we want to capture moments of joy and elation. Some people meditate and delve deeply into this process first thing in the morning when they wake up, or before they go to bed. 

When we become aware of our inner processes it leads to better integration between our internal and external states, as they are inextricably linked.

For example, if your mind is consumed with feeling stressed by an upcoming work deadline, or upset about an arguement you had on the phone, then when you pick up the kids you may respond more abruptly or react in ways that you usually wouldn't. If you are able to pause for a few moments and acknowlege those feelings of upset and pressure from work before you pick up your kids, you will be better equipped to separate your behaviours from your feelings. 

Jon Kabat-Zinn, a scientist, writer and meditation teacher describes mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally”.  When we look inwards, we want to do so with curiosity, acceptance and openness which is so much easier said than done. We already have subconscious self-talk that is constant and not always so encouraging or accepting. You can begin by tuning in to that voice. Have a listen, notice what it’s saying and how that makes you feel.

I remember the first time I was introduced to the concept of mindfulness. I was a student at the time, doing my placement in a crisis centre. My supervisor told me that when she’s sitting with a client and the client shares details of a harrowing or traumatic event and she finds herself getting carried away by the story, she would (mindfully) place her feet firmly on the ground as a way to remind her to stay in the present moment. If she were to get carried away in that moment and overcome with emotion, then the focus would shift from the client which is neither professional, nor helpful for the client. It works for her and I began to explore what works for me.

Tuning into our internal processes is not so easy. Try break it down into smaller components and introduce this idea with games and activities. 

When my family was chatting about Time-In, together we made up a game that we call “what’s your body telling you”. One of us would say a feeling and everyone would respond with where/how they feel that feeling in their body. For example: hungry, happy, nervous, loved or excited. Each family member would share their personal experience of that feeling (if you want to try this at home, here is a list of feelings you can use or cut out and pull out of a hat at dinner time each night). Your kids may share rumbling tummies, or butterflies, or racing heart, or feeling light and calm. If you want to take the game up a notch, you can then ask “how can other people tell how you are feeling” (and they may share that when they are nervous they pace up and down or grind their teeth, or when they are excited they can be very jumpy, or fidgety) this builds their emotional intelligence and self-awareness. 

What we found was that we began to verbalise our internal experiences. For example, when my husband was away my 6 year old came to me and said that he feels sad, and he knows he feels sad because he is walking around the house slowly and doesn’t want to play with anything.

Another activity that we introduced during Covid19 lockdown was to write down three feelings that we felt that day. Sometimes we wrote our feelings individually and sometimes we wrote them all on the same page. This activity did not come naturally or easily to us. Initially it was challenging and so I printed a page with different feelings on it and left it on the table as a prompt. After about a week and a half of doing this activity daily, my children began to write their feelings down on their own. There were some days that I forgot about the activity, and I would wake up the next morning and see that my 10 year old son had written down his feelings on a paper by his bed before going to sleep.

Mindfulness is not about changing your environment or assessing a situation- its purpose is for us to become aware of our internal world. Mindfulness activates the prefrontal cortex and helps people with clinical and non-clinical problems. If you are interested in the scientific research on the effects of mindfulness on the brain click here.

When we delve inside we may find sensations, images, feelings and thoughts that we don't want to engage with for various reasons. That's okay. It takes time and a lot of compassion to figure these things out.

Eventually we want to be comfortable displaying a healthy range of emotions. By doing so we are modelling this for our children and normalising all feelings. When you are feeling happy you can say out loud “ah I’m feeling happy right now. It feels so good and I’m going to spend a minute taking it all in with "5,4,3,2,1". Click here for a video where I explain this further. Or if you are feeling worried “I’m feeling worried about x,y,z and I’m going to go have some quiet time to reflect or draw”. Or if you are feeling overwhelmed you can say “I’m feeling overwhelmed. I can tell because I have so many different thoughts buzzing around in my brain, I’m going to write them down or I’m going to have a bath or I’m going to do some deep belly breathing”.

We can also encourage this by leaving props around the house. We can have a calm reflecting corner, or a feelings box, or a list of feelings on the fridge. I also leave my "Messy Feeling's Masterpieces" around the house, or my mindful colouring book open on the table.

Flick us an email if you would like some printable resources that you can use at home to help cultivate mindfulness in your home.

Time In Challenge

Pick one and let us know how you go 

  • Play "what's your body telling you" with your kids.

  • On the way to school sahre three things you are grateful for "i'm thankful for..."

  • Share three feelings each night.

  • Try the Rose, Thorn and Bud conversation starter. 

  • Watch "5,4,3,2,1" with your kids and share when you use it. 

That’s all from me today. Give the challenges a go. They may not be easy at first, but are well worth it as you will see for yourselves. Know that we are in this together and get in touch to take the conversation further.

Chat again soon,

Devorah T

Disclaimer: The original framework of Healthy Mind Platter can be found at https://drdansiegel.com/healthy-mind-platter/ The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the intended views of the creators of the Health Mind Platter; Dr Daniel Siegel and Dr David Rock.

Further Resources:

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