Today it’s increasingly viewed as normal to have a mind that’s always “on.” Our lives are busy, we face plenty of stress, and many of us spend our days in a bearable but unpleasant state of inner turmoil. When your mind is working overtime to deal with these factors, it’s very easy to slip out of a healthy and present state. Unfortunately, most of us are unable to retire to a remote mountaintop or a deserted beach in order to escape from the pressures of the modern world. Instead, we must maintain a healthy inner sanctuary by dwelling in the present instead of worrying about the future and the past. Tapping into mindfulness is a great way to re-center yourself when you’re coping with stress, uncertainty, conflict, and chaos.
Mindfulness is the state of paying attention to the present so you can truly live in the moment. Though it may seem elusive right now, mindfulness is easily accessible and allows you to experience, enjoy, and co-create a better life for yourself. In fact, you can slip into mindfulness in just a few seconds and continue reaping the benefits for the rest of your day.
Ready to give mindfulness a try and reap its many benefits? Here are six of my favorite techniques to help you get “out of your head” and access mindfulness easily and quickly.
Take 60 seconds just to breathe. You don’t have to adopt an extensive meditation practice to get real results in your life (although you certainly can if you wish!). Mindfulness can be achieved in just a few seconds with my favorite breathing exercise. You can practice this anywhere, like a busy restaurant, an elevator, or even in a bathroom stall. Give yourself 60 seconds of silence and during this time focus on your breathing. In this brief amount of time, you can actually stop negative thoughts and calm yourself down when your thoughts start racing. You can do this exercise several times a day to instantly get back into the present.
Get off the worry wheel. If you are a habitual worrier, like so many people are, you may not initially notice when your thoughts and fears begin spiraling out of control. And before you know it, anxiety takes over and starts running the show. In order to break a worry cycle, you must first realize that you are in one! Throughout the day, take a moment to assess your inner state. Ask yourself, What am I really feeling right now? Does it feel good or am I coming from a place of fear? If you discover you are feeling anxious or fretful, take a deep breath and pause. Remind yourself that you are in control of your thoughts and that you have the power to calm yourself down and reset your mind to dwell in a place of peace. Then create the intention to carry on in the present.
Put a positive affirmation on “repeat.” Whenever a worrisome thought (or a whole collection of them!) creeps in, be ready to counteract it with a positive affirmation. Affirmations really work to help you stop negative thoughts in their tracks. Disrupt negative thoughts and feelings of self-doubt with a grounding phrase you can repeat to yourself anytime you need centering. Some examples I like include I am a kind and loving person and I am capable and strong.
Simplify your life. Sometimes a simpler approach is best for helping you tune in to the present. Take a look at your calendar—and your life in general—to determine if you need to audit and reduce your daily activities. Have you taken on too many obligations? Do any of your commitments give you an unpleasant gut reaction? Ask yourself if there are any simplifications that you can make that will give you more time to tune into your needs. When you do cut out unnecessary activities, take the time you have gained and spend it on improving your inner state.
Eat a mindful meal. Think back to the last time you really tasted and savored your food. Has it been far too long? Many people rush to eat every meal so they can get back to work or on to the next task. But mindful eating is much better for your digestion and your mental state. Try to have at least one mindful meal a day, or if that simply isn’t possible, aim for a few mindful meals a week. To eat a mindful meal, take time to really experience your food. Chew each bite carefully and focus on the beautiful flavors on your plate. You will enjoy your food more and may even find that you don’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied. And to be fully present for your meal, be sure to put aside any newspapers, magazines, iPads, and iPhones until after you have finished eating.
Get some fresh air and sunlight. I believe we are designed to spend time in nature and that doing so is restorative and helps us stay peaceful and clear-minded. Make sure that you are getting enough outdoor time in natural settings to help you calm your inner noise and become more mindful overall. Head outdoors for a dose of Mother Nature every day, if possible. Visit parks, ocean or lake shorelines, grassy fields, and forest trails to connect to the earth and gain some much-needed calm and presence.
Remember that when life feels overwhelming, you will be okay the moment you find your way back to the present through mindfulness. You don’t have to stay in a place of suffering; a healthier and happier version of you is always just a few deep breaths away. By practicing these steps daily, you will learn to recognize the triggers that pull you out of the now and can take gentle action to become present once again. In time, you will quickly be able to return to your center and dwell in a place of peace and awareness.