Updated: Aug 22, 2019
Learning to stay in the present is one of the best ways to rid yourself of unwanted stress. However, in todays world with so many things demanding our attention, staying present can be almost impossible. Today’s exercise will give you some tools to help get your mind off the things that bother you and pull you back into the present moment.
You will need some paper and something to write with and a comfortable, quite place to sit.
When you are ready, close your eyes and take a couple of deep cleansing breaths. In through your nose and out through your mouth. Relax and just allow your mind to drift. It won’t be long before the things that worry you begin to demand your attention. Let them come. Don’t get lost in it, but as an issue comes to you, allow yourself to acknowledge it. Take about one minute to think about it and ask yourself how it makes you feel. What emotions come up? You may feel angry, afraid, worried, confused, sad, overwhelmed, or frustrated or some other emotion. When you have identified the emotion, open your eyes. Then write down briefly what is bothering you and how it makes you feel.
Close your eyes again. Take two or three more cleanings breaths and see what thoughts come to you again. Keep doing this until you have written down everything you can think of that is pulling you down, drawing you into a grey swirling cloud of negative energy. And when you can no longer think of anything negative, stop.
Now pull your mind out of any particular issue and take a look at your list as a whole. How many items are on it? What emotion pops up the most for you? How often would you say you feel that emotion during the day?
Now put aside your paper and get comfortable again.
Close your eyes and remember what that major emotion feels like. Don’t stay in it. The moment you start to feel the emotion come, open your eyes. Now you are going to focus on four of your senses. Focus your attention on the temperature of the air on your skin. Is it cool or warm? Do you feel moving air or is it very still? Next, focus on your sense of smell. Is the room perfumed? Can you smell cut grass or the leftover smells of someone cooking? What do you smell? When you’ve identified a smell, move on to your sense of sight. Look around the room. What do you see that brings you a little bit of joy? A pretty mug sitting on the table? An arrangement of flowers? A favorite piece of art hanging on the wall? Take just one minute and look at that thing that is pleasant. Notice the details in it. Finally, shift your attention to what you hear. Do you hear birds singing? A car going by outside? Kids playing? What do you hear?
By the time you have focused on each of these four senses, touch, smell, sight, and sound, you should notice that you have almost forgotten about the emotion you were feeling just a few minutes ago. That is because you pulled yourself out of your inner space and back into the present. The trick now is to do this exercise every time that same emotion comes creeping in. Usually, you won’t notice it at first. Your thoughts will start going down a road that brings you to the emotion and it will come in almost without your knowing. Soon you will find yourself not feeling so happy. When you notice you are worried or irritated, or whatever your key emotion was, immediately shift your attention to how the air feels on your skin. Go through all four senses, touch, smell, sight, and sound. With repetition, you will train yourself to pull out of those negative emotions faster and faster. You will get easier and easier to get back into the present moment where you are not thinking, but rather simply being.