Tag Archives: mindfulness

The Pursuit of Mindfulness: How to Get Out of Your Head and Into the Present

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.

 

Seven Tips to Help You Find Peace in an Unpredictable World

We live in times of great uncertainty, and it is taking a toll on all of us. For many people, not knowing exactly what the future holds creates fear and anxiety and leaves them feeling depressed, desperate, and worried. I believe we weren’t meant to live life this way.

While we all must live with a certain amount of uncertainty, it is unhealthy to become so enmeshed in circumstances beyond our control that we lose ourselves in the grips of despair. It’s true that we can’t know what the future will hold, but I believe we can find peace and joy in the present moment by learning to tune into our own needs, by being generous and kind to our fellow man, and by—in our own small way—making the world a better and more beautiful place.

If uncertainty is undermining your sense of well-being, I promise that you can restore balance to your life and find happiness once again. Below are some of my favorite tips to help you face moments of uncertainty and find your way to a place of personal peace.

First, get comfortable with uncertainty. Change truly is the only constant we can rely upon. Therefore, make peace with uncertainty and the role it will inevitably play in your life. Practice managing your expectations so you’re not on a constant roller coaster ride of emotions with each new disappointment. And remind yourself that you have a choice in how you react to anything that happens to you.

Focus on what you can control. Sure, plenty of factors are out of your control, but you’ll go crazy if you constantly fixate on them. Instead, focus on things that are actually in your control. For example, you can’t control whether or not you will get that big promotion at work, but you CAN control how well you prepare for the interview. Apply this philosophy any time you find yourself worrying about the future. Ask, Can I directly control the outcome of this situation? If not, take a deep breath, and try to release the incessant thoughts of worry you are feeling.

Create a “best-odds” plan for managing your stress. Constant stress, fear, and anxiety are destructive to your health and distract you from living your best life. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make a realistic plan for dealing with these unhealthy emotions. Aim to get plenty of sleep each night, stay hydrated, and eat a balanced diet of healthy foods, including plenty of nutritious vegetables. Be mindful of your alcohol intake, and don’t overindulge in sugary drinks and sweets; they may temporarily make you feel good, but are destructive to your long-term health. Additionally, use all that nervous energy for good by exercising each day! Exercise diminishes stress like nothing else. So be sure to go for a walk, hit the gym, or attend a fun class to get active. You’ll be doing your body a favor, and working out those nervous jitters in a productive way.

Get present with meditation. When you worry about the past and future, you are living in uncertainty instead of focusing on the now. But practicing mindfulness gets you “out of your head” and guides your consciousness to the moment at hand. Consider adopting a meditation routine to help you gently reorient your focus to the present moment.

You don’t have to be an “expert” to meditate. Anyone can practice meditation and reap the benefits. Here is an easy routine that I like to do. If you are able, go somewhere quiet like a bathroom stall, and for sixty seconds, follow the breath in and out of your nose. That’s it. The best thing about this practice is that you can do it anywhere from the back of a cab to a crowded café. It’s a fast way to calm down when you feel uncertainty steering you toward unpleasant feelings. Try it whenever you sense your attention slipping to the past and the future—or any time you feel fear or worry creeping in. If you’d like a little more structure to your meditation routine, I recommend the Headspace app for guided meditation sequences.

Take social media breaks and curtail cable TV. If you give it your undivided attention, a constant stream of information about the state of the world will make you mad with worry. Therefore, take breaks from all the noise on your social media accounts and focus on your real life any time you need a mental health break. And if they upset you, turn off cable news shows and get out into the world to spend time with friends and family.

Avoid negative obsessors and overly anxious people: They really do affect your psyche! Entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Think long and hard about who is in your inner circle. Are you surrounding yourself with positive, life-affirming people or with fearful pessimists? Try to spend most of your time with the former group—and you may just notice their sunny dispositions rubbing off on you.

Find a special way to make a difference. While you can’t solve all the problems in the world, you can do meaningful work to help others. I guarantee that you don’t have to look far to find someone or something in need. Serve meals at a soup kitchen, collect clothes and coats for underprivileged children, or raise money for a cause you believe in. Your service will give you the peace of knowing you can make an impact and be a force of positive change and progress. Just try it, and you will be amazed by how wonderful your meaningful contribution makes you feel.

Remember that while none of us can see into the future, you don’t have to let uncertainty overwhelm you or make you feel despair. If you can learn to embrace uncertainty as just another mystery in this journey called life, you may be surprised by the positive outcomes you never did foresee. For this reason, I believe in remaining optimistic about life and the future. You never know what new blessings could be just around the corner.