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Frances Masters • Manage Stress • No Comments

7 Steps To A Calm Mind

Mindfulness practice can be as simple as reaching out and touching, seeing, smelling or… well, you get the idea. One of the simplest ways to practice mindfulness is to connect to your senses.

Breathe in slowly through your nose and allow your belly to fill with the breath

Hold your breath for a few moments then slowly breathe out through your mouth, as if you’re blowing through a straw. Repeat a few times.

Focus on five objects near you

Spend a few moments looking closely at each object, as if seeing it for the first time. View each one in detail as it really is. Does your mind judge each object? If it does, let that judgment go.

Focus on five sounds

Notice each sound and label it in your mind as you do so. For example, your thoughts may go “music, road traffic, breathing, rustling bag, people talking.” Listen to each sound for a few moments, with a sense of freshness, interest and neutrality.

Focus on five different scents

You may not have that many scents around, so just notice what you can — or make a point of noting the smell of your next meal in a café, restaurant or your own kitchen.

Focus on five different tastes

Obviously, this exercise works best when you’re having a meal or a drink.

Focus on five physical sensations

Notice how your body feels: the sensation of your bottom touching the chair, a tightness in your shoulders, warmth on your arm, cool wind against your ankles or a belt fastened around your waist.

Reflect

When you first try this exercise, write down what you notice during each step. Documenting the process helps to consolidate thoughts and fosters curiosity and focus — and therefore mindfulness — as you go about your daily activities.

A note for beginners

All mindfulness practices like this one lead to a gradual calming of your mind. The key word? Gradual. If you aim to quickly calm your mind, you’ll end up frustrated and probably give up. Instead, accept that your mind is going to wander. Bring your attention back when it does stray, and try not to be critical of yourself. If you have a few moments of calm focus during this meditation, accept them as a bonus rather than as a sign that you’re doing something right or wrong.

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Wondering how connecting to your senses like this helps you stop worrying? It’s because your conscious attention can only focus on one thing at a time. If you’re honed in on one of your senses, your attention isn’t feeding your circling worries and concerns. As a result, they begin to lose a bit of their strength. Simply put: If you don’t focus on your worries, they effectively don’t exist.

Exercises like this train your mind to be more focused on the present moment. With time, you’ll find that living in the now is easier, and you’ll become less apt to get lost in worrying thoughts.

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.

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