Here are a four simple suggestions to help you begin to exercise your "awareness muscle" and bring the moment back into focus:
- Become aware of your feet. You don't even have to stop what you're doing for this one which makes it great for mindfulness beginners. Don't do anything. No wiggling the toes or rolling the ankles. Simply shift your awareness to what your feet are feeling inside your shoes, or barefooted. Are they comfortable? Is there pressure anywhere? Are they cool or warm? In fact, stop right this minute while reading this, close your eyes and just feel your feet. I frequently do this when I am overwhelmed with demands and discover myself running around like a headless chicken.
- Notice your breathing. When you notice your breathing pattern your mind naturally quiets and pays more attention to the present moment. Or find an auditory cue and everytime you hear it, focus on the breath and the moment. For example, when the phone rings, stop and take a deep breath. If the phone rings so often you find yourself in danger of hyperventilation, then find another auditory cue. How about a clock that chimes regularly? Does a train run near your home which sounds it's whistle? Find a "deep breath cue" and everytime you hear that sound, take a deep breath and bring your awareness to the present moment.
- Minimize activities where you zone out. Ahhhhh zoning out, ain't it lovely? To just disappear in front of the tv or into that bag of oreos, surfing the net or shopping on QVC. Suddenly, no more bills, no more global warming. But also no more feeling the breeze coming in the window or hearing the crickets on a summer evening. We spend a lot of time giving our precious attention to mind numbing activities that draw us away from the present. Choosing to watch a favorite tv show or getting lost in a good book isn't bad. Just choose these activities mindfully, and limit the time you spend on them.
- Of course the other side of zoning out is zoning in. Pursue activities that keep you engaged in the world around you and encourage you to be in the moment. Gardening, playing with a child, putting together a puzzle or any creative act like painting or playing an instrument all lend themselves to being in the moment.