Feeling tired, though you have slept well, stayed hydrated and eaten? Having a hard time concentrating, but you do not want to take a rest?
Though mindfulness is a bit of a trendy word to use right now, I find that we should learn to use mindfulness as a way to steer our own play and to be more aware of here and now. Because here and now is really more what it is about. Some of us have easier to keep our minds focused on one thing at a time, while others might feel their thoughts wander away, and then maybe not always going the positive way. Using exercises to keep one’s mind on track is a way I personally have tried at larps ever since a friend (non-larper) once asked “Isn’t larp like mindfulness all the time?”. That one curious question has followed me since then, which is also why I wanted to share this with you as a reader.
There are many different exercises out there, and many working very different from person to person. You will probably find a difference in learning exercises in your native language compared to for example English, which is why I will encourage you to search around the web for something that will work for yourself.
The examples of exercises I will provide here are some I have tried at larps myself. The breathing stair I personally find to be easy to use even when being among a lot of other people, and I don’t necessarily need to be still or to have to close my eyes. It’s more about being aware of your breathing than to actually have to go through with the whole exercise. Depending on the larp genre, the focus exercise is easy to put in many different situations, since you don’t actually have to go through all of your senses if you don’t want to. For example, If there’s a ritual with chanting/singing/music I find perfect to just close my eyes for a while and listen.
Maybe reloading should be a better word than mindfulness? I have found myself feeling both more into my immersion and focused at whatever I’m doing after a quick exercise. And if I have felt that I am not in control of my own experience, I have also felt that taking that short break and allowing myself to be here and now, have helped me create a better larp for myself.
The Breathing Stair
If possible and if you want to, close your eyes. Imagine that you are supposed to (slowly) walk up a stair with ten steps, but you have to count your breaths while doing so. You count in “in one” and “out one”, focusing on the breathing and the counting.
When coming to the top of the stairs at ten, you can, if you want to, stop there for a while and just mentally stand on that top platform. And when you are ready, you turn and walk down, doing the same thing, but going from ten down to one.
If you lose count anytime during the exercise, it’s fine. Instead of stopping and starting over, compliment yourself for noticing that you lost your count or focus, and just go on from the step that you think that you were on before.
This is about very consciously choosing what you wish to focus on with your senses. If possible, close your eyes and pause what you are doing. Try not to value any of the impressions you get. You don’t necessarily have to focus on all of the senses, and you can stop any time you want, it’s not an exercise where you have to wait or do something special to stop with it.
Start with listening.
What are you hearing when listening to your left? What are you hearing when listening to your right? What do you hear when listening to sounds coming from behind you? Are any sounds louder? Do you hear sounds from very nearby or from far away? Is there sounds suddenly appearing?
Then shift your focus to what you see. The things around you. Look at one thing at a time. Are there any special colours? Reflections in the light? Any shifts in the texture of things? Then move on to focus on what you feel. Let your koncentration go through your body. How does your clothes feel against your skin? If you are sitting down, how does what you sit on feel? Can you feel the air against the skin on the top of your hands?
And finally try to notice if there’s any special smell around where you are. How does that smell? From what? Do you recognise any of the smells?
Bernd Hesslinger, Alexandra Philipsen and Harald Richter (2016). Psykoterapi för vuxna med ADHD: En arbetsbok. Hogrefe Psykologiförlaget.