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

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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.

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!

12 Quotes to Inspire Your Mindfulness Practice

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

I’ve always been someone who lives in her head, thinking/worrying about the future and occasionally mulling over the past and what-ifs. So, learning how to be present and live in the moment has been a challenge for me (and it still is at times).

If you don’t know, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn) Essentially, being mindful means focusing on the what you’re doing when you’re doing it (single-tasking); it is being aware of what’s going on around and within you; and it’s going with the flow and accepting your situation/life for what it is right now (while also taking inspired action for where you want to be) — and doing all of this without judgment of yourself or your life (or even other people).

Since I’ve started being more mindful and living in the moment, I feel more at ease, grounded, and centered; I worry less; I’m actually able to get more done; and I’m able to hear my Inner Wise Woman (my intuition) more easily. A few simple activities you can do to incorporate mindfulness in your daily life are:

  • Sit and do nothing for five minutes.
  • Focus on one thing/task at a time.
  • Do a body scan, becoming aware of how you feel and any tension you have.
  • Focus on your breathing.

And here are a few quotes to inspire your practice:

  1. “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste, experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  2. “When you are here and now, sitting totally, not jumping ahead, the miracle has happened. To be in the moment is the miracle.” – Osho
  3. “The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feeling anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  4. “The more I give myself permission to live in the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty or judgmental about any other time, the better I feel about the quality of my work.” – Wayne Dyer
  5. “Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.” – Oprah
  6. “Remember then: there is only one time that is important — Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.” – Leo Tolstoy
  7. “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” -Abraham Maslow
  8. “Life is a great and wondrous mystery, and the only thing we know that we have for sure is what is right here right now. Don’t miss it.” – Leo Buscaglia
  9. “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle
  10. “Living in the moment, without attaching yourself to regrets about yesterday or worries about tomorrow, goes a long way toward cutting through the chaos of everyday life.” – Eve Adamson
  11. “Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  12. “With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

The Power of Presence

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

As many of you know, I’ve been separated from my husband for some months now, which, of course, has cause my life to do a 180. And needless to say, I have a lot going on: My daughter and I are living with my parents at the moment, I’m building my business/empire, rebuilding my self-love and self-worth, becoming financially independent, in addition to being a mama to a 4-year-old (and life in general).

During this time, I’ve been pretty focused on my future, what I’m intending to manifest and figuring out what I want next. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with thinking about/visualizing/planning for your future; the issue is when you do it so much that it 1) prevents you from living in the moment; and 2) causes you to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious, which is what I’ve been feeling.

Because of this, my mantra for the past few weeks has been Stay Present. As the Calm Coach, I know all about the power of being present and why I need to be. A few reasons you should be present (also known as practicing mindfulness), you:

  • stop or lessen your overthinking.
  • improve your focus.
  • reduce stress.
  • improve your overall well-being.

However, being that I’m human — with a tendency to overthink — my logic is that if I constantly plan and obsess think about the future, I’m going to make things happen more quickly and how I want them to, and I have the illusion that I’m in complete control of making things happen.

Since I’ve started being more intentional about being present, I’ve noticed that life actually goes more smoothly and things just have a way of working out. Additionally, I’m putting a lot less pressure on myself to achieve things by a certain time/date, and I’m more compassionate with myself. I also don’t beat myself up (as much) about what I don’t get done or the mistakes I’ve made. I now go with the flow more easily, I’m more peaceful, focused, and I’m more trusting of the process and the Universe.

One way to start being more present is by using mantras/affirmations. Here are a few I use when I need the reminder:

  • I focus on what’s in front of me.
  • I choose to live in the moment.
  • I trust the process of life.
  • Breathe.
  • I am enough.
  • I am doing my best.
  • I trust in Divine Timing.

“Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

10 Quotes to Inspire You to Live in the Moment

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Over the past few years, I believe the Universe has been trying to teach me to live in the moment. As a daydreamer who has been developing her patience forever (it seems), being present and allowing everything to unfold the it is has not been my strong suit. I am, thankfully, getting better at it. Because what I’ve come to realize is that the only moment/time there is is the present moment, and fretting/obsessing over what’s to come does nothing but stress me out and cause me anxiety (and it probably does the same to you).

If you have trouble staying present and living in the moment, here are 10 quotes to inspire you to do so:

  1. “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” – Eckhart Tolle
  2. “Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.” – Brene Brown
  3. “Trust the timing of your life.” – Unknown
  4. “I know that the big miracles we’re waiting on are happening right in front of us, at every moment, with every breath. Open your eyes and heart, and you’ll begin to see them.” – Oprah Winfrey
  5. “Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot
  6. “Be. Here. Now.”– Unknown
  7. “Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience, moment to moment.” – Jon Kabat Zinn
  8. “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
  9. “Wherever you are, be there. If you can be fully present now, you’ll know what it means to live.” – Steve Goodier
  10. “Living in the moment brings you a sense of reverence for all of life’s blessings.” – Oprah Winfrey

Having a meditation practice is a great way to learn how to live in the moment! Download my guided meditation to get started.

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

 

10 Quotes to Remind You to Be More Mindful

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Mindfulness is the intentional yet gentle effort to be present with your experience in a nonjudgmental way. It means living in the moment and being right here, right now with a conscious, purposeful awareness of the present moment.

You’re not dwelling in the past nor focused on the future unless you’re doing so with mindful intention. However your experience is (or however you perceive it to be), you don’t judge it. Or, if you do judge it, you simply observe your thoughts with a friendly curiosity then release them.

Why be mindful?

  • Mindfulness reduces over-thinking, which causes stress, anxiety, and agitation and can lead to depression.
  • It lessens stress.
  • It promotes mental health.
  • Mindfulness helps with emotional reactivity. For example, it helps you not to lose your temper or speak before thinking.

Now that you know why you should begin living in the moment, here are a few quotes to inspire you to be more mindful in your daily life:

  1. “Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t). ~ James Baraz
  2. “Today, I choose awareness. I choose to be aware of the beauty of life and living. I choose to be aware of the simple pleasures in life. I choose awareness of joy, awareness of peace, and awareness of love.” – Iyanla Vanzant
  3. “The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead. – Majorie Pay Hinckley
  4. “Just slow down. Slow down your speech. Slow down your breathing. Slow down your walking. Slow down your eating. And let this slower, steadier pace perfume your mind. Just slow down…” – Doko
  5. “Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously, they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now. And that’s a revelation for some people, to realize that your life is only ever now.” – Eckhart Tolle
  6. “You’re worried about how you’re going to feel at the end of your life? What about right now? Live. Right this minute. That’s where the joy is at.”  – Abigal Thomas
  7. “Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot
  8. “Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve been, but also where you’re going. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way.” – Stephen Richards
  9. “Mindfulness gives you time. Time gives you choices. Choices, skillfully made, lead to freedom. You don’t have to be swept away by your feeling. You can respond with wisdom and kindness rather than habit and reactivity.” – Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
  10. “The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

How will you make mindfulness and living in the moment a priority in your life?