In these troubled times, we find ourselves asking what we can do to calm our pervasive fears and the distrust around us.
Mindfulness is an intrinsic ability that we each have and can tap into at any time. It provides a pathway to calming our minds from a spiral of fear, and it can expand our thinking to encompass a heightened perspective of the world. Mindfulness reminds us that we’re here in this moment of “now.” All this moment asks of us is to feel love and acceptance towards ourselves and others.
Mindfulness holds the key to not only expanding our awareness, but also raising consciousness — both individually, and collectively. It’s a state in which we’re present in the moment with total awareness, observing our lives unfolding and becoming better able to experience it with acceptance. It opens us to what resides in our hearts and puts us in touch with a sense of oneness with world.
We tap into the benefits of mindfulness when we make a concerted effort to practice “present moment awareness.” Some of the ways we can strengthen that skill is by getting off our devices and bringing our focus to contemplative practices, such as meditation, yoga or sitting quietly — even if it’s just for 10 minutes each day. In other words, we need to take ourselves off autopilot and practice observing life in the moment.
With a mindfulness approach to every moment, we find ourselves eating more slowly and really tasting our food without rushing. We make time for a leisurely walk while paying close attention to the sights, sounds and smells of nature around us. Taking the time to simply observe, we see so much more than when we’re busy thinking about what we have to do next.
The inner exploration that Mindfulness offers is the best way to minimize the inner voice that feeds our fears and helps us calm it. We become aware of when it comes up, and instead of feeling consumed by fear, we can be an observer of it. In this way, we’re not only less likely to be reactive, we have a mindful awareness of our judgments and can begin to change them.
When a negative, fear-based or judgmental thought enters our mind, we can replace it with its positive counterpart. Think of the negative thoughts we harbor as a closed up dark, gloomy house. When we open the windows and air out the rooms that we’ve kept closed and neglected, we see these thoughts in a new light. When we consistently cast light on our fearful thoughts, the anxious inner voice diminishes.
Our inherent ability to engage in Mindfulness keeps us present and elevates our awareness. We’re able to tap into a sense of calm and a connection to universal truths and meaning. Mindfulness provides us a way to experience an expansiveness that feels like we’re breathing along with nature. We adopt a more benevolent view of the world and more thoughtfully and intentionally choose our life path.
To practice Mindfulness and calm our fears in these uncertain times, use these techniques:
1. Turn off the news.
The news and social media outlets churn out a constant barrage of alarming stories and speculations that raise our fear factor. We must stop binge watching and only check in for a short time once each day. Once we have the headlines, we can then turn our mind to what’s happening in our present moment and what’s “broadcasting” from within.
2. Connect to your spiritual self.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a mid-20th Century French philosopher and Jesuit priest, stated that we are “spiritual beings having a human experience.” We are more than just our biological bodies; we are divine spirits! Instead of always allowing our human experience to run the show, we need to tap into our spirit self to connect with its immutable wisdom.
3. Take mental health breaks.
Connect to the healing qualities of the natural world and its sense of expansiveness. Give your busy mind a rest by walking in nature and noticing its beauty. When we feel ourselves a part of our surroundings, we experience a sense of non-separation. It feels as if we’re breathing along with all that’s around us.
4. Stay rooted in the present.
It’s important to acknowledge that we’ve experience a life-changing interval during this devastating pandemic. While most everyone has been affected by both the human and economic toll, dwelling on the catastrophe can be equally as destructive to our well-being. Rein in any thoughts that generate negativity. Instead, focus on thoughts that are centering and grounding, such as “This too shall pass,” and “I can handle whatever comes.”
5. Restore equilibrium through meditation.
Meditating by focusing on your breath is a type of Mindfulness that can be very restorative. You may also silently repeat a phrase or mantra that’s uplifting and affirmative. For example, you might use the phrase, “I’m okay,” or “Let it go.” Meditation can restore our sense of balance, harmony and spiritual equilibrium. When we can retain that state even without meditating, we become more aware of what disrupts it, and able to let go of the negativity.
Use this meditation to quiet your thoughts and stay present in the moment:
1. Sit somewhere quiet.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Observe any sounds, thoughts, feelings or sensations you may be experiencing in your body. Simply observe them.
4. Put your focus and awareness onto your breath.
5. Take a few deep breaths in and out.
6. Think of yourself as an observer. There is nothing you need to do other than sit and allow your breath to move through you.
7. If, or when, a thought pops into your mind, simply observe it. Visualize your thoughts like clouds moving in a clear blue sky.
8. Say silently, “I am not my thoughts.”
9. Say silently, “I observe my thoughts.”
10. Say silently, “I’m not judgmental of my thoughts.”
11. Say silently, “I can release my thoughts like a cloud moving in the sky.”
12. Say silently, “I release any thoughts that do not serve my well-being.”
13. When you are ready, bring your focus and awareness back to your body.
14. Slowly open your eyes.
15. Take as much time as you need to transition out of your meditation.
By practicing mindfulness and meditation you can take control of your life and calm your fears.
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Ora Nadrich is founder and president of the Institute for Transformational Thinking and author of Live True: A Mindfulness Guide to Authenticity, named in the 100 Best Mindfulness Books of All Time by BookAuthority. She is a certified life coach and mindfulness teacher, specializing in transformational thinking, self-discovery and mentoring new coaches as they develop their careers.