Being presently mindful helps to establish being grounded in the “here and now”. The present is the “where and when” we can have a level of control and influence. This increases our sense of being safe and at peace. We establish our connection to the present through our senses: seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting. Most everything else is either evoked from the past or imagined in the future.
This exercise helps to establish a connection to the present.
Look around your surroundings and identify:
5 things you can see
4 things you can hear
3 things you can touch/feel
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
- The ‘placement’ of the senses can be changed to suit the environment. Example: If you are doing this exercise while mowing the lawn, ‘4’ things you can hear might be…difficult to achieve. Instead, move ‘hearing’ to #2 and ‘smelling’ to # 4.
- Be as detailed as you need. Looking for a quick reduction in stress? Simply name them. Example: “I see the tree across the street, I see the blue car in the drive way, etc”. For a deeper, more engaged experience…get more detailed. Example: “I see the tree across the street. The bark is dark brown and deeply lined. The leaves are dark green and spade-shaped. They are partially unfurled. The tree looks to be about 25 feet high and some of its roots are above ground”.
- Don’t save this practice to only when you are stressed or anxious. Just as it can reduce these negative emotions, it can enhance a peaceful, fun, and meaningful moment. Kayaking on a beautiful lake? This helps you not miss a thing. Enjoying a cook out with your good friends? You will remember this time with even more clarity and with more emotional attachment.
Anxiety can result in affected breathing, usually in the form of ‘labored breathing’. These short, shallow breaths do not effectively perform the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange. This, in turn, will result in increased heart rate, feelings of unease and panic, and even lightheaded and fainting. Often, our first response in realization that our breathing is being compromised is to take…one…deep…sharp…BREATH. Lightheadedness and anxiety abound. Instead, here is a method to gradually increase your chest/lung capacity to accommodate deeper breathing as well as a healthier, more natural gas exchange.
- Notice the affected breathing.
- Find a comfortable place and position.
- Start at 5 cycles of:
Inhale for 3, hold for 4, exhale for 5
5 cycles of:
Inhale for 4, hold for 5, exhale for 6
5 cycles of:
Inhale for 5, hold for 6, exhale for 7
- Work with the ‘count’ to find the pattern that works best for you. Lung capacity and chest flexibility varies from person to person. Take the time to find what’s comfortable for you.
- Diaphragm breathing-sure, if you are used to it. It is a more effective means of taking a breath. However, if you are not used to doing it regularly it can feel awkward, even uncomfortable. Concentrate first on the bigger strokes then, when you have them mastered, fine tune.
- If possible, sit up straight with your feet on the floor. Or, better yet, sit on the floor with your back straight.