Perspective taking

Find somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed. Other than your (not too intrusive) timer, leave your tech out of sight, sound and reach. Make yourself comfortable for the next 25 minutes or so.

Set your timer for 10 minutes.

Look straight ahead. Do not focus on anything in particular. Just try and maintain a relaxed gaze. Without looking around or shifting your gaze, become aware of all that is in sight. Do not forget your peripheral vision, above, below, left and right.

Now, move your attention to your hearing, and become aware of all you can hear, whether distant, nearby or even internal.

Shift your focus to your sense of touch. What can you feel? Your weight in the chair? Your feet on the floor? Clothing? Watch? Jewellery? Hair? Anything else?

Now, close your eyes and move your attention to your breath, wherever you feel it most. Silently count your breaths: one on the in-breath, two on the out, three on the in, and so on, until you get to 10.

Move your attention to your heart. If you find it difficult to keep it there, try putting one hand gently over your heart (if it is not already there). If you still have a hand on your belly, return it to your lap or knee. Continue to breathe normally, in and out through the nose. Feel yourself relax. Say to yourself:

May I be safe.

May I be healthy.

May I be happy.

May I be peaceful and at ease.

Now bring Alia to mind. Imagine her relaxed and happy, and say to yourself:

May [Alia] be safe.

May she be healthy.

May she be happy.

May she be peaceful and at ease.

With that image still in mind, ask yourself what it might be in Alia’s personality, in her life experience or in her present circumstances that makes it hard for her to hear what you want to say. Why might it make her anxious, fearful even? Why does it stress her out?

Do not think about it, or try to analyse it. Just ask the question and see what comes. If thoughts or feelings come to mind, just be aware of them. Let them come and go as they will. If you get caught up in them, that is fine. In fact, it is inevitable. When you realise you have, just bring your focus back to your heart and repeat the question.

When your timer goes, bring your focus back to your breath for another count of 10, in on the odd numbers, out on the even, then open your eyes and reconnect with the sights and sounds around you.

Set your timer for a further 10 minutes.

Write down whatever thoughts you have about why Alia finds this so tough. Keep writing for the whole of the time. Do not worry if you run out of things to say, just repeat what you have written so far until something different comes to mind. If your mind is completely blank, start with: ‘Alia may find this challenging because…’

Photo: “Mouse’s Perspective” by Jonathan Thomsen Photography is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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