Returning to the present moment is powerful but simple strategy to help calm the inner chaos we feel during those frustrating moments. It can feel difficult, however, when our mind is moving a million miles a minute and we don’t know how or where to focus. Below, I’ve highlighted many metaphors and short phrases I sometimes use to focus my attention when I want to calm my mind.
Visualize one or more of the metaphors to help focus your awareness on the present moment.
When you feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions or notice your mind drifting into the past or future, just take a breath. Take a moment to focus on each breath to re-ground yourself in the present moment.
Gently shift your attention away from the doubts, fears, and deadlines flying around you and place your attention on your breath.
Do not try to change your breath by making it deeper, shallower, louder or softer. Just notice it. The breath is natural it does not need to be commanded, it just happens, most times outside of our awareness.
Notice how your breath sets a beat for your body. Your chest rises and falls; your abdomen goes in and out; the sensation in your throat shifts from warm to cool. Notice other ways in which your body synchronizes to the beat of the breath.
Your attention will attempt to float into the high winds of thoughts swirling in your mind. Do not fight the thoughts, just simply notice and like a balloon floating away with the wind, gently grab the tailof your attention and bring it back to your breath.
You realize only this moment. And that in this very moment, nothing is wrong. All is well as you simply notice your breath.
Your mind may start to wander again. Past events, to-do lists–like clouds passing in the sky, let them pass through your awareness and return to the breath.
Sensations may arise—an itch, tension in your back, numbness in your butt. Some areas may feel cold or warm. Know that all sensations, like thoughts, are temporary. Like waves into the shore, simply allow them to flow in and out of your awareness, and return to the breath.
You may notice emotions such as fear, anxiety, or even boredom well up. These are simply your minds way of seeking pleasure or avoiding fear or frustration.
Notice that in this moment, your body, and your surroundings are all as they should be. Thinking about the future or past does not change them in this perfect instant so gently return your focus to the breath.
Notice as your emotions, sensations, and thoughts arise, if you re-focus your attention on your breath, they eventually disappear. To the rhythm of your breath, a gentle dance between your thoughts and the present moment transpires—back/forth, in/out, up/down—a motion that is not to be resisted but witnessed.
By: Lynyetta Willis
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