Advertising

3 Mindfulness Techniques for Living in the Present Moment

Advertising
3 Mindfulness Techniques for Living in the Present Moment

Life on Earth is an expression of the present moment and a journey with a beginning and end. Living and creating it shapes the concepts of past and future. While reading this you shape a new understanding and create your next move. We’re about to tackle two of the most complex concepts of all: mindfulness and presence.

To use mindfulness techniques effectively and efficiently, first we need to understand the basics of mental energy. The techniques won’t serve you if you are not capable of managing your mental fluctuations and the emotions produced by them.

Knowing this, we can effectively and efficiently apply a mindfulness technique and get the most out of the present moment.

Scratching the Surface of the Present

The mind is naturally collecting and processing information permanently, so it’s constantly occupied. We’re filling it up, and we’ve been doing so ever since we were born: childhood memories, imaginations, habits, traumas, ideas, and so on. Our mind is full of information, but it is not always mindful in a way that makes us aware of that information.

So, how do mindfulness techniques coordinate all this information in the present?

Since the mind is processing thoughts at an incredible speed, sometimes there is awareness of what is going on, and sometimes there isn’t. We often lack awareness when dealing with multiple emotions, thoughts, or events at once. Thinking always happens in the present moment, but that doesn’t mean we are conscious of what that thinking is producing.

It is not enough to say: “Yes, there is nothing but the present moment, and yes, I am fully aware of here and now.” And then? What happens when you have to deal with complex conflicts and negative emotions here and now?

You can be well aware of your memories, ideas, and knowledge, but if you fail to understand how they create mental energy, your present moment may end up being occupied with the past and the future.

Advertising

The Basics of Mental Energy

Our mental energy is developed through five mental fluctuations.

Simply put, a thought is a mental construct that produces certain emotions, such as enthusiasm, sadness, frustration, and happiness. The feeling, or mental energy, is the output or the capacity of the mind you get as a result of your thinking. Be aware that the five mental fluctuations can be applied positively as well as negatively:

  1. Righteous Knowledge – Cognition of the level of quality values lived in the present moment.
  2. False Knowledge – Taking the wrong for right; wrong perception or misconception.
  3. Imagination – The origin of an idea, and the power of creation.
  4. Memory – A recalling capability of how presence was lived.
  5. Sleep – A state of re-setting the fluctuations; the replenishment of mental energy, resting of mind and body.

These fluctuations and how they’re applied shape you as an individual: your mental energy (emotions) develops from the coordination of these fluctuations.

Knowledge + memories + imaginations + misconception = Emotions

The Present Moment

Presence, which is the ultimate reality of existence on a cosmic scale, untouched by any human concept, is interrupted by our ability to think and use intelligence, which can memorize or imagine a present moment. These mental activities — the recalling and constructing of thoughts — have created the concepts of past and future.

This is also where “time” comes in as an invention for the means of measurement and communication in our conscious world. We use time to label our past, present, and future but are often more concerned with the past and future as we attempt to rework past memories or plan for future events.

The present moment is difficult to tap into because it feels so fleeting. The past and future feel lengthy, tangible in some way. It is much more difficult to bring yourself to a moment that you know will soon pass. However, it is important to do so if you want to improve your focus and mental health.

The Length of the Present Moment

The present moment is as long as you want it to be. It can be as long as a beautiful melody, as the sound of the crashing waves upon the shore, or as the sound of a slamming door. Your perception decides. And the technique below can help you.

Advertising

To live in the present moment, you need a continuous, tangible experience. That continuous experience is your breathing. Breathing is so powerful because you will always be able to find it in the present moment.

The longer you are conscious of your breathing, the longer you live in the present moment and the longer your mindfulness is present. Here we come to the mindfulness techniques.

Mindfulness Techniques

The following are techniques to move you into the present moment. Experiment with each of these and find which one resonates with you.

1. Conscious Breathing

This involves closing your eyes and focusing on the sound and movement of your breath. Find where you in your body you feel your breath the most. Some say it’s in their chest, others in their stomach. Some people find it helpful to focus on the movement of air in and out of the nose. Wherever you feel it most, focus on that.

If your mind wanders, that’s ok. Simply practice bringing yourself back to the breath over and over again.

Some of the benefits of this technique[1] include:

  • Calming mental fluctuations
  • Enabling identification and distinction of emotions
  • Fading of (negative) emotions
  • Increasing attention and concentration
  • Improving self-inquiry and self-knowledge
  • Improving the quality of imagination, memory, and knowledge

An excerpt from the book About the Power of Breath explains the connection between the breath, awareness, and presence:

“The breath is the only natural connection of the mind with the Presence. And this connection between the breath and the mind is constant, permanent, it cannot be interrupted, it cannot be left out while the process of life is happening.”[2]

Breathe consciously and notice that your mindfulness is given. With this technique, you can stretch the length of your present moment and all mental qualities you wish to acquire will develop as a result in its own time.

2. Gazing

The mindfulness technique of gazing is simple to perform and has an immediate effect. Pointing your eyes at a certain object for as long as you can will bring your thoughts into one place.

Choose a flower, a candle light, or any interesting object you like and just gaze at it. Don’t analyze the object; just stare at it for as long as you can, and you’ll notice the improvement of your concentration, the awareness of yourself, your state of being, and eventually of your thoughts.

During the gazing you will be able to see, to observe a thought interrupting this mindfulness technique, which indicates the level of your awareness.

Repeat this exercise at least three times a day for a few minutes and make notes of the progress of your concentration and awareness.

3. Humming

The technique of humming is another way to enhance awareness and focus the mind.

  1. Close your eyes, looking at the inner side of your eyelids, and inhale slowly and deeply through your nose.
  2. Cover your ears with your palms to feel the humming more intensely.
  3. Exhale, creating a humming sound that resonates from your belly.
  4. Right after the humming is over, before your next inhalation, hold your breath for a few seconds and observe the one-pointedness of your mind.

Repeat this for at least ten breaths and increase this practice as you see fit.

I personally love this technique, as it instantly focuses my mind in the present moment and has an immediate soothing effect on my whole body and mind. Whenever I feel stressed, I do the humming exercise, and it instantly relieves all the pressure.

Advertising

The subtle vibration of the humming is an inner massage of your body, mind and soul, and makes you one (mindful) with the present moment.

Why Is Mindfulness Important?

Once your awareness moves away from the breath, you become aware of things and activities inside and outside yourself again. You may be gaining knowledge, but the inquiry into your true being and your psychological evolvement often cannot take place.

Mindfulness, with practice, will help you focus on what’s important and get rid of negativity and harmful thought patterns. You will find that you capture more of the important things happening in life and that you’re able to construct positive memories based on what’s happening here and now.

Final Thoughts

The gazing and humming mindfulness techniques are great for practicing concentration, restoring mental and physical strength, and connecting to the present moment. They prepare you to be as present as possible in the outside world. However, as great as they are, they’re limited in their application as you cannot gaze or hum while communicating to people or performing daily activities.

It’s only the technique of conscious breathing that can be used in any situation, at any moment. Applying it does not require a tranquil set-up like a yoga studio or meditation center. You can apply it everywhere, at any time. By doing so, you remain in the present moment, mindful, for as long as you want.

More Tips on Mindfulness Techniques

Featured photo credit: Cristian Newman via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Marcin Gil

Marcin is a spiritual being just like anyone challenging to uncover what we already have โ€“ spiritual freedom.

relaxation techniques 6 Relaxation Techniques to Calm Your Busy Mind 3 Mindfulness Techniques for Living in the Present Moment 5 Techniques to Quiet Your Mind And Stay Present 4 Signs of Emotional Exhaustion (And How to Get Over It) 3 Self-Help Techniques for Better Mental Health

Trending in Mental Wellness

1 How to Stop Being Anxious And Regain Your Calm 2 How To Do Focused Meditation Any Time 3 Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why? 4 Does Depression Make You Tired And How? 5 Overwhelmed at Work? 17 Ways to Manage Work Anxiety

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on January 18, 2022

How to Stop Being Anxious And Regain Your Calm

Advertising
How to Stop Being Anxious And Regain Your Calm

Are you sick and tired of wasting your mental and emotional energy worrying about (and replaying) events in your mind? Even sabotaging yourself, your performance, and your relationships, at times? Constantly playing the “what if” game in your mind?

Let’s be honest, feeling anxious is miserable and unequivocally sucks the enjoyment out of life. It does this because it is impossible to be in the present moment when you are constantly worried about the future or past events. Here’s the deal—it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s talk about some tips on how to stop being anxious and get your calm back.

The Difference Between Feeling Anxious and Having Anxiety

Feeling anxious is just part of the human experience and is a normal stress response. When the stress is removed, the anxiety usually goes away, too. With an anxiety disorder, the stressful trigger is removed but the anxiety can still be present.[1]

There are multiple anxiety disorders with varying characteristics. If you are concerned that you may have one of them, it is best to be evaluated by your doctor, especially since anxiety is very common. According to research, up to 33% of all Americans will experience an anxiety disorder at some point during their lifetime.[2]

What Can You Do to Manage Feeling Anxious?

The good news is there’s a lot that you can do to stop being anxious. Science is learning more and more every day about ways we can manage feeling anxious.

I am a strong believer in being proactive and preventative. If you have a lot of stress in your life or are prone to feeling anxious, I always recommend establishing a foundation of good daily habits. That way, when something happens to poke the anxiety bear, you are already in a position to handle things.

Twenty tips may be overwhelming for some people but remember: you are not expected to incorporate every tip on this list. Look at it as a menu of potential helpful options. You can pick and choose whatever you want and leave the rest.

Here are 20 tips on how to stop being anxious:

1. Eat the Right Food

It might come as a surprise to some, but certain foods can make anxiety worse, such as sugary foods, processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners.[3]

Advertising

Here are some foods you can try instead that can help reduce anxiety: Brazil nuts, fatty fish, eggs, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, Turmeric, Chamomile, yogurt, and green tea.[4]

2. Stay Hydrated

One simple tip to help you stop being anxious is by staying hydrated. Even being mildly dehydrated has been shown to worsen anxiety.[5] So, drink up! Water, that is.

3. Work Some Mindfulness Into Your Day

This one shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Meditation and diaphragmatic breathing (breathing into your belly and engaging your abdominals upon exhale) are what usually come to mind, but there are some other fast and easy exercises that can help calm you down almost immediately.

One of my favorites is called Five Things, and it’s based upon our five senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch). It can be done in any order.

For example, you might start by picking five things you can see. As you list each item, it’s important to take in the detail of each one. Next, you pick four things you can feel, noting each item with the same attention to detail. Work your way down to one item accompanying your last sense.

4. Get Some Exercise

Completing 30 minutes of exercise three to five days a week may significantly improve symptoms of anxiety. Even as little as 10 minutes has a positive impact.[6]

In one study, exercise was shown to be as effective as medication in the treatment of symptoms of anxiety, with higher intensity exercise more effective than lower intensity exercise.[7]

5. Sit With It/Observe It

Dr. Judson Brewer recently penned a book (and an app) entitled Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind in which he discusses turning toward our emotions as a way to process them rather than distracting ourselves or bottling things up (turning away).

He encourages people to be an observer of the emotional response in their bodies, almost as if conducting a research project in great detail and noting the exact location of physical sensations (stomach, right or left side, front or back) with as much detail as possible.

Advertising

6. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an approach that utilizes the cyclical connection between our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as a means to control unwanted (anxious) thoughts.

One exercise to stop ruminating thoughts includes picturing a stop sign in great detail, instructing yourself to “stop,” and then changing the narrative to something positive, encouraging, or even more realistic or likely.

Another CBT exercise involves challenging negative thought patterns and beliefs for validity by asking yourself:

  • Is there evidence for my thought or am I making assumptions?
  • What’s the worst that could happen? Is this likely?
  • What’s the best that could happen?
  • What’s most likely to happen?
  • Will this matter in a week, a year, or five years from now?

7. Realize What You Can and Can’t Control

Take action where you can. Many of us spend time worrying and feeling anxious over things we can’t control.

Figure out what you can do and take action from there. Studies show that taking action reduces anxiety.[8]

8. Gratitude

Reminding ourselves of the good things in our lives not only brings positivity to us but also reduces anxiety. This is because it is neurologically impossible for our brain to focus on negative and positive information at the same time.[9]

9. Volunteer or Do Something for Someone Else

Helping others feels good. It also reduces stress, boosts our immune system, and can help us live longer.[10]

10. Journal in the 3rd Person

The practice of journaling has long been known as a valuable tool to help us manage our emotions, and it can also help us stop being anxious and regain our calm.

Making a point to name the emotions you are experiencing (“name it to tame it”) is a principle Dr. Dan Siegel discovered that heightens the value of journaling. More recently, Dr. Kross, in his book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It, noted that journaling in the 3rd person (as if narrating your life) creates further value by creating some distance between you and the emotion you are experiencing, thus allowing you to breathe easier and gain perspective.

Advertising

11. Go Out Into Nature

Spending time in nature has been shown to improve attention, lower stress, improve mood, reduce the risk of psychiatric disorders, and even cause upticks in empathy and cooperation.[11]

12. Spend Time With Animals

Dogs are not only your best friend, but it turns out they are good for your mental and emotional health, too. The fact that cats just allow you to live with them as their servant doesn’t detract from the positive impact they also have on our emotional well-being.

Spending time cuddling with your pet on the couch can decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have also found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.[12]

13. Get Good Sleep

Getting good sleep can be difficult when we feel anxious, but being tired can worsen the issue. Try sticking to a consistent bedtime, make your bedroom dark, the temperature cool, and limit screen time before going to sleep.

14. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

Alcohol changes the level of neurotransmitters in our brain. This can lead to a heightened sense of anxiety. Caffeine is a stimulant, specifically stimulating our fight or flight response, which is already more sensitive for those struggling with anxiety. Use both in moderation.

15. Show Yourself Compassion and Encouragement

What would you say to your best friend? Many times we make things worse by shaming or berating ourselves for feeling anxious because we fear it makes us appear weak or vulnerable. This makes the problem worse.

What would your best friend say to you? Stop beating yourself up and be your own best friend.

16. Spend Time With Friends

Healthy friendships make us feel included, improve self-confidence and self-esteem, and thus, help reduce anxiety.[13]

17. Create Balance in Your Life

Set healthy boundaries and priorities, and don’t be afraid to enforce them. Nobody else can do this for you. Value yourself. You are worth it.

Advertising

18. Have a Plan

Another tip to help you stop being anxious is to have a plan. Knowing what you will do takes away a lot of the “what if” thoughts in your mind. Being certain about some things and managing your expectations can help give you peace of mind.

19. Remind Yourself of a Past Event

You can also try to remind yourself of a past event in your life that you were anxious about but still ended up okay. Have confidence that you will make it through this situation, too.

20. Have Some Structure or Routine in Your Day

Knowing what to expect can significantly reduce anxiety and the fear that can accompany uncertainty.[14] Give yourself as much structure as you need. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Final Thoughts

It can be difficult to manage feelings of being anxious. Take charge and pick a few of these to try out. Be consistent, and see how you feel.

You can always discard what doesn’t work for you, and pick something else to try. Confide in a friend that you are implementing some new strategies, and get some support.

Always tell your doctor your concerns, and don’t hesitate to get help if you are having difficulty managing things on your own. Good luck!

More Tips for Calming Your Mind

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next