Nine times out of ten, my anxiety is caused by worrying–the “what if’s”–of a situation that may or may not occur. When the time arrives, it usually doesn’t even go as planned…even though I have rehearsed the outcome 900 different ways in my head! I have caught myself having arguments with people, working on my speeches, drafting angry e-mails, all in anticipation of…nothing…really. Any situation can lead to a million different paths and it is impossible to predict (and then prepare for) any of them.
More than once I have found myself pulled back to the practice of mindfulness. I have read, and recommend, The Mindful Woman: Gentle Practices for Restoring Calm, Finding Balance, and Opening Your Heart by Sue Patton Theole, which outlines practices to get you to focus on now, pull your life back from chaos, and center your mind around peace. It is a very accessible book for beginners, and designed to digest in small bits.
Not long ago, a friend suggested mindfulness to me, which reminded me how far away from the present I have become. It’s so easy to let memories of the past, or thoughts of the future, overshadow what you are doing today. If you find your thoughts running away from you, and worry and anxiety creep in, here are a few exercises you can use to pull yourself back to center. Honestly, you cannot control everything. A clear and focused mind, present to the current moment, is the best defense!
Pick an object–any object. Observe it thoroughly, without judgement. Become absorbed in the object. What does it feel like? Be completely in the moment with the object and the experience it brings. Use anything around, like a pen or the park bench you may be sitting on. How many colors can you find in a piece of wood? What beauty can you see? Which shapes do you see? Allow yourself to be amazed by something.
2. One Minute Midfulness Meditation:
For one minute, and you can set a timer if you need to (which I do), focus all your attention on your breathing. I sometimes find this difficult, so I like to close my eyes and focus on the sounds around me instead: cars, the hum of the air conditioning, the whir of my computer. Go deeply into the sounds, see if you can pick just one of them and tune out the others.
Do you have any practices that help pull you into the present moment? Please share them with us!