Presence is a Virtue – Part 2

tramCatching public transport to and from work can be a really good use of your time. Of course, you can read a book or do work but you can also use this time to practice being present. It is particularly beneficial to experience the present moment while commuting since it is usually at the beginning of your day (you can set a calm, focused tone for your whole day) and at the end of your day (you can wind down and let go of the events of the day). I find the following exercises very useful when I am commuting to and from work.

1. Focus on your body on the seat

  • Close you eyes if you like and focus all of your attention on how it feels to be in contact with the seat you are sitting on
  • Focus on how your back, bottom and legs feel against the seat
  • If you are standing, simply feel your feet on the floor and anything else your body is in contact with. Examples include your hand on a hand rail or your clothes against your skin

2. Focus on your body’s movements

  • A bumpy ride on a train, tram or bus can often be annoying and we tend to resist moving with the vehicle’s motions by tensing our bodies
  • Try relaxing your body and letting yourself move naturally with the motions of the vehicle
  • Focus all of your attention on the movements your body is making and how these movements feel
  • This can turn an ordinarily annoying experience into a rather enjoyable one!

3. Focus on one instrument in a song

  • If you listen to music while on public transport try focusing intently on only one instrument used in the song
  • Focus on the drum beat, the guitar or even the vocals
  • This exercise makes me appreciate music so much more since it becomes more than just the background noise behind my thoughts

Do you have any suggestions on how to be present on public transport? Let me know in the comments section below 🙂

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.

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Presence is a Virtue – Part 1

sunlit-skyAfter reading quite a bit about being present, experiencing each moment fully, living in the ‘now’ – I still find it fairly difficult to practice. I was initially introduced to the concept of experiencing the present moment about 5 years ago when my brother Marc gave me a book called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Thanks Marc 🙂  At the time I had never heard of the book but when I read the blurb I exclaimed “This is exactly what I need right now!”.

The book made me see things as I had never seen them before. It taught me to experience life as it was, fully accepting how things were without resisting them. It had never occurred to me how much easier life could be if you simply focused on what you were experiencing from moment to moment rather than thinking about the past or the future. After all, neither the past nor the future exist, right? Anything that happens is happening now. It doesn’t happen yesterday, it doesn’t happen tomorrow. This concept can be difficult to grasp at first, I had to read a fair chunk of the book to understand what the hell the author was going on about! However, I persisted with my reading and it was very rewarding.

I am currently half way through reading the book for the second time and I am struggling to ‘just be’ without identifying with my thoughts or thinking about the past or future. In order to help me be present I recently compiled a list of all the things that help me experience the present (even if just for a moment) and thought I would share it with you. The list has quite a few items so I have divided them up into separate posts which I will share throughout the week. Since it is the first day of Summer (and it is actually warm in Melbourne for a change!) I thought I would list things you can enjoy doing in the beautiful weather. For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, these exercises can be used in the colder weather too 🙂

You can experience the present moment fully by:

1. Focusing on your feet hitting the ground as you walk

  • As you walk, (whether it be in a beautiful park or simply around the office) focus all of your attention on how it feels as each foot touches the ground
  • Feel the flow of blood and energy in your feet as you move
  • I often do this when I get up from my desk at work. I also do it as I walk through the park on my way to work in the morning

2. Feel the air on your face

  • Again, as you are walking, focus on how the air or wind feels as it makes contact with your face
  • This is a favourite of mine especially on a beautiful day

3. Feel the sun on your skin

  • Any time you are in the sun direct your attention to the feeling of the sun against your skin
  • Take note of which part of your body feels the hottest from the sun’s heat

4. Listen to your surroundings

  • If you can, close your eyes (or keep your eyes open if you like) and focus all of your attention on listening to every sound you can hear
  • The great thing about this exercise is that you can do it at any time. You can even do it right now!
  • I particularly love doing this in the park when I can hear the birds singing, the wind blowing and even traffic on the nearby road
  • Remember, being present is about accepting what is happening in the moment rather than resisting it. So if you are enjoying the wonderful sounds of nature only to hear a lawn mower start, accept it and focus on that sound too. This can also be a great exercise in acceptance, especially for someone like me who hates loud noises!

You might want to try doing more than one of these exercises at the same time. It will definitely help you experience the present moment since you can’t focus on these things and think about the past or future all at once!

What do you do in order to experience the present moment?

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.

A Spot Meditation to Relieve Anxiety

A friend and I were just discussing the crippling feeling of anxiety and the irony of being anxious about feeling anxious. For example, when I was Self Conscious Lisa I used to be very anxious in group situations, especially work meetings. If a meeting was coming up I would feel a huge amount of anxiety during the hours leading up to that meeting. The anxiety was due to being worried about feeling anxious while I was in the meeting. Argh! So much anxiety!

I told my friend that I learned a spot meditation that reduces anxiety almost immediately and started practicing that before and during my meetings. I have become a lot more comfortable in group situations now that I rarely have to use this meditation at all 🙂

The meditation is called 4-7-8 Breath Meditation and it involves the following:

  • Breathe in for 4 counts (make sure your belly expands as the breath fills it)
  • Hold you breath gently for 7 counts
  • Exhale for 8 counts

Repeat this 8 times and see how you feel. It has the ability to make you dizzy or light headed if you do it too many times. So start with 8 times; I don’t want you passing out in the middle of a meeting.

Try it next time you feel anxious and let me know how it goes!

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.

The Benefits of Meditation

One of my favourite websites is psychologytoday.com. When I’m in the midst of a psychological funk I search for articles that I can relate to and I always find good quality information on this site. I immediately feel a sense of relief after reading facts about the issue I am experiencing. This sense of relief is mainly because I begin to understand myself more and what I am going through and I instantly feel able to take steps to address the issue. It is also useful to discover that I am not weird or insane 😉

The following Psychology Today article is not about a particular issue I need to address but it is about one of the primary methods I use to cope with daily stresses. It’s about meditation and its scientifically proven benefits. According to the article, research shows that a 10 minute meditation session can decrease anxiety and depression. It is also claimed that meditation facilitates self-acceptance and insight as well as reducing pain and enhancing the immune system! That’s pretty amazing!

I can personally say that meditation has had a profound impact on my life. I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. It influenced my behaviour and ultimately ruled my life (it was particularly evident during the Self Conscious Lisa phase). Since beginning to practice meditation 2 years ago (and only recently taking it up again) my feelings of anxiety have decreased dramatically! I also know how to use meditation to calm myself if I feel the Anxiety Monster creeping up on me.

I know the benefits of meditation can be experienced by everyone. Why not give it a try?

I hope you enjoy the article 🙂

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.