Stress is a significant part of many people’s lives
We could also call it ‘worry’. If we’re worrying about the future, or reliving and fretting about the past, we cannot be living in the only time we have in which to live – NOW. If we’re living in the present we can for example, fully enjoy our meal, our home, nature, being with and listening to our companions or children etc. If we’re thinking about other things such as our work or problems when we are with others or eating a meal for example, then that’s where our energy is. If we are going to end stress, stop worrying and live life to the full we have to find a way to be fully present. We need to be the key character in our own lives. We need to be completely aware of everything we do.
So how can we stop the chatterbox of the mind that continually takes us away from present moment living?
While we are fully listening, or totally focused on an activity or project, we cannot be thinking. Here are a few exercises to get you started. While you are doing them notice if your mind starts to wander and gently bring it back if it does. Be persistent. The mind likes to think it is in control, but you need to claim back control if you’re going to live life to the full and be in the present moment.
Try these exercises and see how you feel before and after doing them:
1. Sit or stand with your feet flat on the floor and your back as straight as you can. Bring your awareness to the sacral centre, about 2” below the navel. Keep your focus there and breathe in, through the nose, slowly and deeply into that area, filling the sacral centre first and then bringing the breath up through the rest of your torso, finishing with it filling the upper lungs. As you breathe out through the mouth, slowly empty the upper lungs first, then the rest of the torso, and finally exhale out of the sacral centre. Do this slow, deep, even breathing for several times. Try putting a hand on the area just below your navel to begin with and check that your in breath is moving your hand away from you as you bring the breath in, and that your hand moves back in as you breathe out.
2. Sit or stand with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Breathe softly, evenly and consciously. Then listen to the sounds around you without judgement. Allow the sounds to be. Keep listening. If your mind wanders gently bring it back to listening. It can be particularly good to do this exercise outside, listening to the sounds of nature.
3. Practice being fully aware of any activity you undertake. If you are washing-up for example, be fully aware of the temperature of the water, the feel of the soap, the texture of the crockery etc. Don’t let your mind wander, keep bringing it back to fully focusing on what you are doing.
4. Practice observing yourself and what is happening around without bringing any judgement to the situation. The mind loves to label things as ‘good/bad’, ‘right/wrong’, ‘worthy/unworthy’. Let yourself see things as they really are – they just are. Allow things to ‘be’. If you need to make plans for the future, make the plans, do what you need to do, then let go of the outcome and allow it to be. By desperately trying to control the outcome of situations we drive ourselves nuts. When you find yourself in that place that drives us crazy know that whatever happens you will cope – our fears, brought to us courtesy of our mind, are trying to control us again. When we can still the mind we then open our hearts to being fully in the present – the only sane (and truly loving) place to live!
The mind takes our energy and leaves us drained and in turmoil. By quietening the mind we are able to bring ourselves into a place of balance, harmony and inner peace. In this place we will find stress has ended, we have stopped worrying and we are living life as it is meant to be lived. What takes us away from this inner peace is fear. A busy mind brings us fear; a quiet mind shows us love.