Tuesday, August 28, 2012

To Live in the Present, Focus on Your Senses

When you experience stress, anxiety or just a general feeling of unhappiness, you're probably living in the past or the future. But a third (and often neglected) alternative can bring relief: the present. By living in the present and being mindful, you begin to appreciate the things around you and push out the thoughts that are keeping you stuck in your unhappiness.

To learn about mindfulness and why the present is your best option, click here to read my previous post.

How to be mindful:
  • Listen: Direct your attention to what's around you. If you're having coffee with friends, listen to what your friend is saying – don't interrupt or let your mind wander to other things; if you catch yourself planning your response, zero in on her words.
  • See: Notice what you see around you. What color is your coffee mug? Does it have a texture? Give your attention to a single item, or expand your focus and take in the entire environment.
  • Touch: How does your coffee mug feel? Is it smooth? Unyielding? Warm? 
  • Smell: What do you smell? The aroma of coffee? 
  • Taste: How does your coffee taste?

If you're just learning to be mindful, focus your attention on a single sense, and then expand your awareness as time goes on.

You can practice this exercise whether you're socializing or you're alone washing the dishes. Even the most mundane tasks become more interesting when you direct your attention to that one task, rather than distracting yourself with thoughts that might cause unnecessary stress.

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