I’m a massive daydreamer and I love having my head in the clouds. It is very entertaining up there. However, there are times when my head feels too full and busy. Even when I have created the physical the space for solitude and reflection, my mind is just well, noisy. There is no space for any more information and no room left for me. While I’m at it, life is still happening around me and I’m unable pay it much attention.
The Betty Erickson Technique
I heard about a tool called the Betty Erickson Technique at a recent retreat I’d been to. Betty, the wife of Psychologist and Hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, developed this technique as a form of self-hypnosis that works by observing and articulating in your immediate environment, things you can see, hear and feel. It has been used successfully to aid relaxation, relieve insomnia and reduce stress.
Used in a mindful way, this very simple tool can be used direct your attention to the present; raising awareness of your surroundings and encouraging you to engage with them. Stating what you notice out loud provides the added advantage of creating some space from your over-active mind. (Try to think and talk at the same time and see what happens!)
Using this tool while engaging in an activity of something that you love, also reaps the benefit of heightening your experience, attention and appreciation of it.
The picture above was taken at the last place where I used this tool as I love to walk, especially in nature. My script went something like this.:
I can hear – birds singing
I can hear – the leaves rustling
I can hear – the wind whistling
I can hear – the crash of water as the geese jump in for a swim.
I can see – orange russet and green leaves
I can see – the suns reflection on the lake
I can see – leaves tumbling past me in the wind
I can see – oak trees more than 15 feet high
I can feel – the cold air against my face
I can feel – my scarf around my neck.
I can feel – my heart beating calmly
I can feel – the heaviness in my arms and legs
Take a pause and simply observe, then repeat with three different things you can see, hear and feel and then one.
I am now aware that I hear ________ (3x’s)
I am now aware that I see _________ (3x's)
I am now aware that I feel _________ (3x's)
I am now aware that I hear ________ (2x's)
I am now aware that I see _________ (2x's)
I am now aware that I feel _________ (2x's)
I am now aware that I hear _________(1x)
I am now aware that I see _________ (1x)
I am now aware that I feel _________ (1x)
You can repeat this as often and for as long as you wish, but what I love about this most, is that you can change how you feel, be present, find joy and be calm all in five minutes.
Try this while you are walking, painting, eating, relaxing with a cup of tea or whatever brings you real peace and joy. I would love to hear what the experience was like for you in the comments below.