If you’re not used to being in the moment, it can be challenging to train yourself to do so (but it’s not impossible). Here are a few exercises that will help you practice mindfulness so you can be present more often:
1. Focus on your breathing. Take 3 minutes (set a timer if you need to) to simply focus on your inhales and exhales. You don’t have to change the way you breathe; just close your eyes, noticing the sensations of your breath (is it shallow or deep?), how you feel, and be aware of any sensations in your body. Also, when thoughts come to you, acknowledge them, then gently let them go.
2. Savor your food as you eat. There are a couple of ways to do this:
- Choose one meal (or snack) during the day, and as you eat, just focus on eating (for at least the first couple of minutes): no phone, TV, book, work, etc. Instead, really pay attention to the flavors you taste, the warmth or coolness of your food, the texture, and remember to chew slowly. Savor your food.
- For this, you’ll need a small snack (for example, a piece of chocolate, cookie or a piece of fruit. First, take a moment to see how the food looks (its colors and shapes) and how it feels in your hand (soft, hard, squishy, warm or cool). Next, slowly bring your snack to your mouth and take a moment to smell it. Then, put it in your mouth. Pay attention to the flavors you taste and the texture. Again, chew slowly and savor your food.
3. Single-task. Instead of focusing on trying to do three things at once — and actually getting nothing done — for your next task, try to concentrate only on doing that one thing. Not only will you be more productive, you’ll also be more centered.
4. Notice your surroundings. This will bring you to the present moment, and it’s a great way to ground yourself in moments of anxiety and overwhelm. Here’s what to do. Find:
5 things you can see
4 things you can feel/touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can touch or you’re thankful for
If you find that you’re mind is wandering
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