Tip: At the bottom of this page you can hear me read this blog post out for you in the podcast player. Some other blog posts are available too.
Mindfulness is the art of being in the present moment. I say art because it’s something that can be practised and honed. You may not be an expert at mindfulness meditation but you can be if you want to be. The trick is to practise. Mindfulness is a brain training exercise that will benefit you in surprising ways. When I first heard about mindfulness meditation I thought it was only for hipsters, hippies and monks. True! I had no idea what it involved or how it could help me. Now I know it can help anyone. Mindfulness is beneficial for children, teens, adults and those who don’t identify with any particular age group.
If mindfulness is being in the present moment, how do I get there? And stay there?
It’s all too easy to worry about the future or be upset by thoughts of the past. There is a better, more productive way to live. In the present. There are some meditation techniques to help you find the present moment in your mind. Try some of these techniques and figure out what works best for you. It could even be a combination of techniques that you find most helpful.
Use your senses
The five senses can be used to gently move your focus back to the present moment.
Touch: Bring your focus back to the present moment by feeling your way there. You don’t need special tools to do this. Your clothing may be soft or you may have a pet at home. Feel some fabric or the soft fur (or scales) of your beloved pet and focus on how your fingers receive this sensation. Is it smooth? Is it warm? Acknowledge any thoughts and feelings you may have. Let yourself feel those feelings and bring your thoughts back to the absolute present moment. There are no worries of the past or future when you are focused on the present. Another form of touch is the feeling of your feet on the ground or your body against your chair. There’ll be more on that sensation later.
Smell and taste: Ask yourself what smells can you detect right now. Are there any tastes on your tongue? Mindful eating is the perfect way to enjoy your meals because you will fully engage with the flavours and sensations of the food. Breathe in the aroma of your cup of tea or coffee or cocoa.
Hearing: Focus on the sounds reaching your ears within in the room or nearby area. Then extend your awareness to the sounds outside of the room or area. Acknowledge the sounds without judgment. If your thoughts begin to wander show yourself patience and allow your thoughts to drift back to the present moment.
Sight: Whether your eyes are open or closed you can focus on what they are seeing. While they’re closed you can acknowledge whether the environment is bright or dim. Or visualise a candle, which is a common meditation technique, and see how long you can focus on the imagined flame. If you need to have your eyes open, such as during a walk or while driving, you can use the world around you to stay present. The next time you’re out for a walk try a walking meditation to stay in the mindul present. During a walking meditation you can ask yourself, what’s the sky up to today? Are there any clouds or birds or sky writers? Acknowledge your surroundings and your position within them, how tall the trees are, how the leaves move in the breeze. You can add in the other senses too, focus on how warm or cool the air feels on your skin and what smells are reaching your nose.
If you have read the paragraph on the sense of touch above you will have an idea of this one already. Grounding involves feeling your connection to the Earth through your feet or your body. You can do this with socks or bare feet or in shoes while sitting or you can be lying down or sitting upright. The point is to envision your connection to the ground while feeling the physical connection through your body. Focus on the space at which you feel your body touching the ground. Remain in the present moment by just being and feeling your existence physically. You are present in this place at this time. No past or future concerns are harming you and they have no power in your present moment.
Breathing and heartbeat
Your breath and your heartbeat are always there. Often it’s not quiet enough to hear either of them, but it is normally possible to feel them. You can feel your own pulse by pressing your forefinger and middle finger (not your thumb as it has its own pulse) against the inside of your wrist or your neck next to your windpipe. Sometimes it’s difficult to find your pulse. I find it easier to find my breath. Sometimes when I’m trying to sleep I hear my heartbeat is too fast because I was WORRYING about the past or the future. In those moments I tell myself I can learn to slow my heartbeat by focusing on my breathing. They seem to go hand in hand. With enough practice you can have this other level of control over your body.
Breathing deep, soothing breaths is a common way to calm yourself during moments of stress that have caused an increase in your heart rate. You can also focus on the calming breaths as you breathe them to bring yourself to the present moment. The breath is very powerful in this way. It’s something you can always bring your awareness back to. Observe yourself in the moment just breathing. Your eyes can be closed if it’s safe to do so. If any thoughts or emotions come to your mind you can let them pass by and float away with your breath. Let your focus be only on your breath and how it feels flowing in and out. Be in the present moment with your breath. No worries or emotions can hurt you in the present moment.
When was the last time you were a beginner at something? Or looked at something you’ve never seen before? When you learn something new you focus on each step carefully, individually. Once you’ve mastered a skill you no longer think twice about performing it. You don’t look at the steps closely or consider how each part comes together, it is just assumed. The world around you can also blur together as you assume the common objects you see every day. Un-blur your mind and focus on an object like you are a baby and have no understanding of the object. Create curiosity within your mind and come back to the present by really fully focusing on an object or a skill such as hula hooping or throwing a ball. Consider how it feels but without emotion or judgement. No judgement of causes or effects. Just see it for what it is in the moment and enjoy every one of those moments. You are present. You exist and it is amazing.
Remember to allow yourself to feel emotions and acknowledge your thoughts when they wander. Be kind with yourself, no need to be discouraged when you stray from the present moment.
It’s okay to feel anger, happiness, all of the good and bad emotions are valid. But remind yourself that good or bad, the emotions are only temporary. You can control how you feel. The past cannot harm you.
The worries of the future are holding you back from focusing on your present moment. The future will happen whether or not you fixate on it. Fixation on the future cannot help you prepare for it. You have total control of your body in the present moment. You have the power to make it however you want it to be right now. You choose if you stand up and breathe in the fresh air or stay where you are. You choose whether you sit in sadness and worry about what others think about you. Are you worrying about those people? No. Then they aren’t worrying about you. You’re here in the present moment, make it whatever YOU want it to be.
Side note: Every other fellow human is also living and existing on the Earth just like you, searching for contentment and safety. If you or they are displaying angry emotions then it is because you/they are scared or hurt. We are able to choose how we react if we are wholly in the present moment. We are powerful enough to create the present that we want to exist in. Remain present, ask yourself why you are feeling a particular emotion and you can choose whether you alter your behaviour based on your anger, hurt or fear. Or choose to breathe and stay in control of your present.
Thank you so much for reading. Be kind and be present.
Visit my Youtube channel for more Full Cup Wellness online. Visit my store on Storenvy for my crochet creations.