This simple exercise can help alleviate anger, stress, and anxiety.
Any negative feeling you may experience can dissolve when you live in the present moment. Truly!
Consider this: If you are experiencing hurt, resentment, anger or frustration, you are likely replaying a past painful event in your mind. In the same way, if you are feeling anxiety, stress, concern, worry or panic, you are probably anticipating a future event. Can you see how all of these descriptors of negative emotions are related to either past or future events?
If you’re like most people, you live in the past or present constantly, shifting from one to the other all day long. That is totally understandable since we need to function in a world where we have future appointments, upcoming plans, or past relationships and experiences. As a modern society, we certainly have no shortage of things to do and places to be. In fact, that is probably what causes our lives to fly by at warp speed. And we just live like that, believing that is how it is or how it should be.
If living in the past or future is causing you heartache, resentment, and anxiety, perhaps it’s time you try something new. You probably have heard that doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome is the very definition of insanity. So why not try doing something new? Try living in the present moment! After all, the present moment doesn’t carry with it the baggage of the past or the fearful anticipation of the future. So it truly is the ideal place to “be”.
In fact, you have probably even heard the terms “living in the moment”, “being present” or “mindfulness”. This is not a one-time practice that works miracles. It’s a lifestyle shift and it is most effective when done as a regular practice. So if you are willing to do this five-minute exercise, you may find that it can help you to unplug from the negative feelings and plug into a simple practice that enables you to live with more peace in your life.
Begin by sitting comfortably in a chair, with feet flat on the ground and hands in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and breathe in and out through your nose. Just notice your breath, don’t try to control it in any way. Breath as you normally do. We are going to tune into each of your five senses as part of this exercise.
First, with your eyes closed and quiet breathing through your nose, pay attention to what you are hearing. Think about every sound you hear. Is it rain on the windows? It is children playing outside? Is it a clock ticking or traffic noise? Whatever it is, notice it. Don’t allow yourself to make a judgment on it. In other words, don’t think it’s an annoying noise or it’s a pleasant one. And don’t let it remind you of something you need to do or even something that makes you happy because even a happy memory is putting judgment on it. And for this exercise, we are not judging one way or the other. We want to simply notice.
Next, we’re doing to keep our eyes closed and move to the sense of touch. What do you feel against your skin? Move from your toes to your head. Do you feel your clothing on your skin? Is there a breeze? Do you feel the sunshine warming you? Here again, don’t allow feelings to arise. Simply identify the feelings on your physical body. (Not emotional feelings.)
Keeping your eyes closed, identify anything that you smell. What scents can you identify? Does anything stand out for you? Do the same here by not allowing feelings or emotions to get conjured up. Simply smell the smells.
Next, we’ll pay attention to the sense of taste. Do you have a taste in your mouth of any kind? Is there a taste from something you just ate? Or is there a dryness in your mouth? Can you identify what it tastes like, if anything?
Lastly, open your eyes while still sitting still and breathing calmly. What do you see? Turn your head to the left and the right. Look up and down from where you are seated and describe what you see.
I encourage you to have a journal nearby because writing down what you’ve noticed along the way helps to realize what is around you without putting a meaning to it. You can simply make a list of things you have heard, felt, smelled, tasted and seen.
During the exercise, you may have felt a compulsion to attach meaning to everything you sensed. But remember, try to refrain from allowing your brain to go there by simply letting that thought go and gently guiding yourself back to the present moment of noticing. It may take practice, but that is exactly what we are doing here…practicing!
After doing this exercise, perhaps you’ve discovered that as an observer of the here and now, all was peaceful. Yes, you may have a busy day tomorrow. Yes, you may have had a difficult break-up recently. But understanding that in the stillness of this very moment, those things don’t exist. They were in the past or are in the future. But right now, all is well.
I would encourage you to do this exercise repeatedly throughout the day or week, as often as you can. The more often you do this, the quicker you’ll realize the benefits and you’ll be able to sit “in the moment” any time you choose for relief from negative emotions. And don’t forget to congratulate yourself because you have just sat in the moment quietly and unplugged from the triggers of sad times, painful memories, or stressful events to come.
If you struggled with this exercise, don’t despair! It can take a bit of practice to be able to sit, breathe and notice without judgment. Those aren’t things we often do, so keep trying, you’ll get there.
There are also numerous side benefits to keeping up this practice of living in the moment. Here is an article to learn more about that: 15 unexpected side-benefits to living in the present moment
If you are interested in learning how WORRY can make you sick, and discovering some tips to combat the negative effects of worrying, check out my previous blog article called “Is Worry Making You Sick?” Find it here: https://bewellwithjanel.com/emotions/is-worry-making-you-sick/