The mind is a funny thing – when we most need focus, that’s when our thoughts start running in a thousand different directions. We can then try to chase them all down (exhausting!) or we can apply techniques such as mindfulness to help us stay connected with the present.
Mindfulness is not a shortcut to peace – it’s a lifetime practice that can take years to master. Fortunately, we can begin to apply it anytime, with gentle steps towards self-awareness and self-centering.
Here are three steps to begin with:
1. Breathe – breathe in, breathe out, and repeat; if it sounds too simple, it’s not.
After a few moments of patiently inhaling and exhaling, it becomes clear how rarely we actually watch our breath throughout the day. Breathing slows down the body, gives the mind something to concentrate on, and reconnects us with what is happening in the present (this air, this smell, this season)
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
2. Relax – sit back, drop your shoulders, and drop your tension.
Again, we spend so much time running, walking, standing, or sitting hunched over a desk that we can forget what it means to be still – with only the intention of relaxing mind and body. In this step feel free to let the mind do its own thing – while the body rests and watches.
“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
3. Be Present – begin to live now, without judging past or future.
“Be here now,” is a great mantra for living in the present. It means concentrating on what we have and what we can control here and now, instead of worrying about what is ultimately outside our sphere of influence.
“Life is lived in the present. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is yet to be. Today is the miracle.”