In life, many of us will have experienced the effects of being unmindful; where we may find ourselves in automatic-pilot mode, or preoccupied with other thoughts, emotions or plans, and unaware of where our attention has taken us. Sometimes, when we are being unmindful, negative thoughts creep into our minds and reactivate vulnerable emotions or attitudes. This can be quite devastating if you have a history of emotional or mental problems, like Anxiety, Stress, or Anger.
How many of you are aware of the patterns of your mind? Are you able to recognise the signals your body gives out to you when you begin to get angry, stressed or anxious? How much of the time is your mind likely to regress back to the past, or transgress into the future, rather than remaining in the present?
By simply paying attention you can awaken yourself from this state of unmindfulness, and become more aware of what is happening in the present. This intentional approach of paying attention, gives you an opportunity to discover what is happening in the body, and how this affects what is happen 1c48 ing in the mind. It alerts you of the presence of physical sensations or strong feelings or emotions in the body, and where they are located, but left unchecked, it can become caught up in a continual negative loop where old habits, attitudes or behaviours are sustained.
By shifting your awareness to what is happening in the body, you can direct your attention to where any physical sensations begin within, especially during times of Anxiety, Stress, or Anger. This shifts your attention away from what is going on in your head, and more into recognising and acknowledging your experience in the moment. Bringing awareness to the physical sensations in your body, gives you more choice into how you would prefer to respond, rather than how you would normally respond. It provides you a different place from which to view things, so you can use your power of choice to alter your perceptions of what is going on, and to respond more mindfully rather than to react automatically.
Redirecting your attention to your breathing, can help to calm your senses when handling difficult situations, and brings stability back to the moment. It is not about breathing deeply, but more about slowing down your breathing and reconnecting yourself to the present whenever your mind wanders. It is important that you gently remind yourself. “This is Okay, I am okay” or “I am a responsible, capable human being” or “I am an amazing human being, with amazing capabilities”
Try thinking of your breath as the ebb and flow of the sea on a calm day.
As you breathe in slowly, picture your breath as the receding tide, as it flows back out into the ocean. As you slowly breathe out, picture your breath as the flowing in of the tide, as it ripples over the sand and pebbles. (As you breathe out through the mouth, blow the breath through the lips softly, or hum, as this helps to slow the breath down further.) You may find it useful to say to yourself….”Calm” as you breathe in, and “Relax” as you breathe out. Notice where any tension lies within the body during this time, and make an intentional movement of releasing it and letting it go as you breathe.
Do this for as long as necessary, and notice any changes during the practice of focusing attention on your breathing.
Learning how to stay present in the moment will help you gain an alternative perspective from which to view your experience – to see more clearly, how the signs and symptoms of Stress, Anxiety or Anger can change when you have a different vantage point to observe them from.
In not striving for a ‘perfect solution’, this breathing awareness allows you to touch base with your inner self, so you can explore better and more skilful responses, and intentionally step out of automatic pilot. How we handle things can make a big difference as to whether we allow them to control our lives or whether we expand our awareness to living more mindfully, and letting go of outdated habitual responses.
Exploring the consequences of reversing any habitual tendencies of the mind, can enable you to see what was once the enemy, and what is now the friend. This is something of a transformative experience which brings a more gentle, friendly attitude to what is going on. You stop allowing yourself to be controlled by those negative thoughts, and use a different approach to enable you to gain distance from them. Remember, thoughts are not facts, they are just mental events which do not fit with the facts of the situation. – It is important to recognise this, so that you can discover other ways of thinking and doing things that are more helpful and balanced.