4 Exercises to Bring You to the Present Moment

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

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

Get the products you need to find your calm in the Black Mom Calm Shop!

How to Take Care of Your Mental Health in Stressful Times

We’re dealing with some stressful and overwhelming times at the moment. In this video, I’m sharing 10 ways you can take care of your mental health and find calm in this chaos. Plus, I do a brief guided meditation.

Just to give you a quick overview, the ways are:

  1. Practice mindfulness (live in the moment).
  2. Practice self-care.
  3. Use affirmations.
  4. Take a digital break.
  5. Develop a (loose) routine.
  6. Journal.
  7. Go with the flow.
  8. Be gentle with yourself.
  9. Allow your best to be good enough.
  10. Breathe/meditate.

For products to help you find and maintain your calm, visit the Black Mom Calm Shop.

13 Ways to Be More Mindful Daily

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

This blog post is part of the Mindfulness in March series. 

Do you want to be in the present moment more often so you can experience more calm? Here are 13 ways you can do so.

1.  Focus on your breathing for 1 minute. Sit comfortably and simply notice your natural inhalations and exhalations. (Don’t consciously try to change the way you’re breathing). Is your breathing shallow or deep? How does it/do you feel? What sensations do you feel in your body? Whenever your mind wanders, bring your awareness back to your breath.

2. Concentrate on one task at a time. As much as possible, focus on doing one thing at a time.

3. Take a mindful walk. You can do this in your yard, if necessary, and here’s how to do it.

4. Drink mindfully. When you’re having your morning coffee or just drinking with your meal, do this: Slowly pick up your mug/cup/bottle and notice how it feels in your hands (Is it warm or cool? What’s the texture of the container?). Slowly bring it close to your mouth, taking a moment to smell it then take a sip and pay attention to what you taste, the temperature and the texture before swallowing. 

5. Observe your surroundings. Pause for a minute or two and look around you. Take in everything you can see around you without judgment. 

6. Take a moment to appreciate three things about yourself. It can be physical or non-physical.

7. Listen mindfully. The next time you’re having a conversation with someone, really listen to what the other person is saying without judging good or bad. Don’t come up with your response (like most of us do), simply listen.

8. Do a body scan. Sit comfortably with a straight spine and close your eyes. Start from the top of your head and observe how each area of your body feels.

9. Observe your thoughts for 1 minute. Sit quietly and “watch” your thoughts. Don’t get caught up in them, don’t judge them. Just allow them to come and go.

10. Slow down and pay attention. Instead of rushing from activity to activity, take your time and really focus on what’s happening in the moment.

11. Listen to music while doing nothing else. 

12. Take a digital break. Whether it’s for a few hours, a day or a week, take some time away from scrolling on social media or even take a break from using your phone.

13. Practice yoga mindfully. As you move through your asanas (poses), breath fully and deeply, focusing on your breath and what you’re doing at that moment. Notice any physical or emotional sensations that come up and observe your thoughts without judgement. And when you notice your mind wandering, bring your focus back to the moment.

Are there other ways you bring yourself to the present moment? I’d love to know! Comment below or contact me. And to take it a step further, sign up for the 5-Day Mindfulness Experience here.

Mindfulness Meditation and Affirmations

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

This is the second blog post in the Mindfulness in March series.

First, I want to say I hope you’re doing well through all that’s going on. If you want to check in with me to let me know how you’re doing, and/or if I can do anything to help, I’d love to hear from you!

Now, in this post, I want to share how to do a mindfulness meditation that will bring you to the present moment and also help you find calm. Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit comfortably with a straight spine in traditional meditation style, with your feet on the floor or kneel.
  • Close your eyes, relax your shoulders and body, and unclench your jaw.
  • Inhale slowly, fully and deeply, filling your belly with air like a balloon.
  • Exhale slowly and fully, allowing your navel to go back towards your spine.
  • As you continue breathing deeply, observe the thoughts that come to you. Don’t judge yourself for having them or the thoughts themselves. Try not to let yourself get too involved with the thought. Observe and acknowledge it for a moment, then it let it float on by. Allow yourself to be present.
  • Continue for 3 to 10 minutes (and so you’re not distracted by time, use your phone as a timer, an app or find a YouTube meditation music video).

Also, here are a few affirmations you can use to bring yourself back to the present moment when you need (especially during moments of overwhelm, stress and anxiety):

  • I choose to live in the moment.
  • I embrace where I am in my life.
  • I am in the flow.
  • I find peace and joy in this moment.
  • All is well, and I’m okay right now.
  • I breathe and focus on the here and now.

How to Stay Calm During COVID-19 Crisis

If you’re someone who already deals with anxiety and overwhelm regularly, then the recent news of COVID-19 might have you stressing and freaking out.  I know it may be challenging, but it’s important to stay calm and at peace for your own mental/emotional/physical well-being.

With that said, here are some ways to stay calm (by the way, these are techniques that’ll work for your child(ren) too!):

Breathe.

Taking deep breaths is the simplest, most effective way to tap into your inner peace. As you go throughout your days (and especially when you feel stressed), be aware of how you’re breathing (is it shallow from your chest or deep from your belly?), and if you’re not already, take a few deep breaths. Here’s how:

  • Inhale fully and deeply through your nose, filling your belly with air like a balloon as you count to 5.
  • Exhale deeply through your nose, counting to 5, allowing your belly button to go back towards your spine.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times or until you feel calmer.

Meditate.

Meditating on a regular basis — even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes a day — assists greatly in staying calm and centered. A few tips for a simple meditation.

  • Find a quiet, distraction-free space (if possible).
  • Sit comfortably in traditional meditation style, in a chair with your feet flat on the floor or kneel.
  • Sit with a straight spine, close your eyes, and bring your palms to face up or down on your legs.
  • Breathe fully and deeply (see above), allowing your body and mind to relax. When thoughts come to you, let them float on by then bring your awareness back to your breathing and the present moment.
  • Use a timer, app or videos on YouTube if needed.

Practice self-care.

While I don’t think we should be panicking about the virus, I do think it’s important to take necessary precautions and take care of ourselves. This includes:

  • Listening to your body.
  • Protecting your peace and energy.
  • Getting the rest you need.
  • Seeing a physician if you need to.
  • Eating well.
  • Staying hydrated.
  • Listening to medical professionals.

Focus on the good/practice gratitude.

When much of the world is freaking out and (intentionally or not) creating a sense of fear, it’s easy for us to internalize these messages and let them affect our thoughts and what we focus on. What you give your attention to expands. So, to feel more peace and joy right now, do your best to find the positive in all situations. Focus on the big and little things that bring you joy, and notice the things you have to be grateful for in this moment.

Take a break from social media/the news.

Spending too much time scrolling through social media and watching the news can cause you to feel more anxious, overwhelmed and fearful. If you want more calm, take some time away from all the noise. Take a media break for a few hours, a weekend or a week, and/or consider limiting the amount of time you spend on it daily.

Focus on what you can control. 

Fretting about what you can’t control does nothing to benefit you and only increases your stress levels (which can also suppress your immune system). Instead of worrying about what might happen or what could happen, breathe, allow yourself to be in the moment, focus on what you can do and trust that Spirit’s got you.

Want to learn more about ways to find your calm? Download your copy of the ‘The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm book!

What Is Mindfulness?

mindfulness

This month’s focus on the blog is mindfulness. If you don’t know (or need a reminder), here’s one definition of what it is:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

Basically, being mindful means being in the moment, focusing on whatever you’re doing (or not doing) and taking in whatever you’re experiencing without judging the situation (or yourself).

Why is it important to be in the present moment more often? Doing so:

  • Lowers your stress levels.
  • Improves your focus and concentration.
  • Helps you worry and overthink less. 
  • Helps you become less emotionally reactive
  • Can enhance your relationships with others.

Here are a few quotes to inspire your mindfulness practice:

“Wherever you are, be there totally.” – Eckhart Tolle

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“The way to live in the present is to remember that ‘This too shall pass.’ When you experience joy, remembering that ‘This too shall pass’ helps you savor the here and now. When you experience pain and sorrow, remembering that ‘This too shall pass’ reminds you that grief, like joy, is only temporary.”– Joey Green

Start your mindfulness practice with the 5-day Mindfulness Experience. Sign up here!

4 Ways to Love Yourself and Find Your Calm

Learning how to find your calm is a great act of self-love. Why? Because it means you’re taking care of you!

In this video, I share 4 ideas for finding and maintaining your calm as an act of loving yourself. Get into it, and let me know what you think.

Calm Mama: Omaria Tucker

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Omaria is a mom of 2,  founder of SoulScribe Omaria and a Creative Soulpreneur who provides crystals and mantras to entrepreneurs and professional overthinkers to help them look good and feel good at the same time. Additionally, she’s a certified numerologist and reiki master.

Here’s what she had to say about learning to find her calm:

Q: What are some of your stressors and/or mental health challenges you deal with?

A: Stressors and mental health concerns that I have faced are internalizing others’ reactions towards me and my response to situations. At times, I find myself having anxiety based on the perceptions of others. Another stressor that I deal with is trying to be the right person that others nee, while also struggling to be that person to myself. Some people may call it the strong woman dis-ease, where we bypass our needs to ensure others are taken care of first.

Q: How did you cope with stressful situations before you started using calming practices?

A: Before I started using calming practices, I did not cope well at all. I think the main (thing) was my alcohol intake increased to help me numb away the hurt and pain of feeling neglected.

Q: What are your top ways/favorite tools and practices for de-stressing and finding calm?

A: Currently, my top two ways two de-stress are handcrafting gemstone jewelry and doing my chanting practices.

As an over thinker, I had to find ways to “turn off” my brain from other situations that I could not physically change in the moment in order to help me come to the solutions I needed. They are types of meditations that I use to relieve my mind.

Q: What differences have you seen in yourself and your life (and children’s lives if applicable) since using calming practices?

A: Since using these calming practices, I have noticed that I am much more calmer in high stress situations. I also am better at not taking things personally when others don’t receive my truth. It has helped me to be silent and listen to what is being said and gauge my responses in a way to ensure that I am not flying off the handle in reaction mode; however, just letting things be as they may, especially if others are not able to see my point of view in situations.

Setting boundaries and knowing your triggers are very important when we are discussing how to find your own place of calm and peace in your life. The words “NO,” or, “I’m not going to be able to do this” without feeling the need to explain why are a godsend. It’s okay if you can’t do something and that you take care of yourself first. If it’s not an emergency, then it can wait until you [I] am in a place to focus and contribute without dis-honoring myself at the same time.

Like my mom says, “Poor planning on your part, does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

Connect with Omaria on her site: airamosoul.com.

Calm Mama of the Month: Nicole Purdessy

 

Calm Mama of the Month features mamas — like you — who have found ways to overcome their overwhelm and find calm in the chaos of their lives. 

Nicole is a mother of two and founder of Beautiful Bru, which provides material and mental tools for successful Goddessness by encompassing mentalism and spiritual alchemy with manifesting.

Here’s what she had to say:

Q: What are some of your stressors and/or mental health challenges you deal with?

A: Bipolar disorder which can entail racing thoughts, anxiety, manic and depressive episodes, OCD, PTSD and panic attacks.

Q: How did you cope with stressful situations before you started using calming practices?

A: Self-medicating and social withdrawal, overeating and sleeping​.

Q: What are your top ways/favorite tools and practices for de-stressing and finding calm?

A: Listening to your guided meditations, mindful breathing, reading your calm tips and reading/reciting the calm card affirmations, burning incense, holding crystals and lighting candles.

Q: What differences have you seen in yourself and your life since using calming practices?

A: I am able to shift my mental perspective much more easily now, and my episodes are much shorter and way more manageable than they used to be​.

Learn more about Nicole and connect with her on Facebook here

 

 

Finding Your Calm During Life Challenges

life challenges

Trust me, I know it can be difficult dealing with life challenges Like you, I deal with parenting woes, financial stuff from time to time, relationship stuff, feeling discouraged and the list goes on. And when ish happens, it’s easy for me to get stressed, overwhelmed and to start worrying and overthinking (maybe you can relate?). 

Fortunately, I’ve learned how to find calm in the midst of life’s curve balls (even though I sometimes have to remind myself to stay calm). And by doing so, I’m able to find my inner peace and get grounded and centered. These are some of my practices:

I breathe (literally).When I notice that my mind is racing with stressful thoughts, I pause and take 5 deep breaths or breathe until I feel calmer.

How to do it: Inhale through your nose, filling your belly with air like a balloon. Exhale through your mouth, creating a small o, and allow your navel to go towards your spine. Repeat 5 times or until you feel more relaxed.

I do my best to stay in the present moment. Your mind cannot occupy two thoughts at the same time. So if you find that your mind is filled with the stress of the future, bring your focus back to the moment; the more often you do this, the calmer you’ll feel.

How to do it: Take a moment to observe everything around you without judgement. Become aware of what you hear, smell, see and what you can feel. Also, single-task, focusing only on what you’re doing.

I meditate and/or do some yoga. Meditation is something I do daily, and because of it, I tend to worry a lot less than I used to, and I feel lighter and more at ease overall. Additionally, when I need some extra grounding, I get on my mat for some yoga. 

How to do it: Take time daily, or a few days a week, to meditate and/or practice yoga. All you need is 10 or 15 minutes per session

I do something to take my mind off of whatever I’m worrying about. I definitely believe you have to deal with whatever is happening in your life and your feelings, but sometimes, you just need to put your worries on the back burner for a little while. A couple of ways I do this are by reading or listening to a podcast or music. 

How to do it: Do something you enjoy that allows you to concentrate on something different for a bit.

I journal. When I find myself overanalyzing and worrying about a situation, I find it helpful to write it all down so that, for the most part, I get it out of my head and clear my mind.

How to do it: Write down whatever comes to you about your circumstances. Don’t worry about how it sounds, and don’t hold back. Get it all out.

I use affirmations. Whether we realize it or now, we’re constantly talking to ourselves, and the things we say have a big impact on our lives and how we feel. When I’m in the middle of a challenging moment, I sometimes find myself thinking negatively about myself and/or my life. To counter this, I recite affirmations which brings a sense of relief, calm and positive energy. 

How to do it: Say affirmations when you feel your thoughts going in a downward spiral of negativity. Some of my favorites:

  • Life is conspiring in my favor.
  • All is well in my world.
  • I choose to trust my journey.
  • Spirit has my back.
  • I got this.

I focus on the good. In challenging times, it’s easy for me to go down the rabbit hole of all the things that are supposedly wrong with me and my life which, of course, only makes me feel worse. So, in addition to keeping a daily gratitude journal, when I notice I’m doing this, I think of what I’m grateful for and even say it out loud. 

How to do it: Start keeping a gratitude journal, and write down 5 things you’re thankful for daily. Or, when you find that you’re focusing on everything that’s wrong, change your perspective, and list or say all the things you’re grateful for.

How do you find inner peace when dealing with life challenges? Or which of these will you try?