I was recently on a trip with my son in Utah and we found ourselves lost on a long hike, far from the trailhead, facing some pretty treacherous terrain as the sun was beginning to set. I was very aware of how I was feeling – – – – nervous and exhausted. I was also aware of the anxious thoughts popping up in my head of how this could end very badly. My strategy was to put one foot in front of the other, focus on the path in front of me (and not on all those scary thoughts), remain calm by looking at the breathtaking scenery all around me and, in doing so, find my way to the trailhead safely. And, after about three hours, we did! (Big exhale.)
This story is yet another reminder of how mindfulness works. It helped me stay calm, focused on the task at hand, and even joyful in the midst of stress. It is also an example of exactly how we can all move safely and calmly through this challenging Coronavirus situation. Here are more Mindfulness Strategie sand my favorite Modern Mantrasthat will help you safely, calmly and wisely find your way through it. (1) Keep calm and grounded. Emotions are contagious. Therefore, at the top of your “to do” list right now is to find ways to cultivate greater calm for yourself and those around you. Like anxiety, calm is also contagious, and it is essential for us all to spread calm not fear, and rational thinking, which will benefit everyone. We can do this by taking one step at a time, one day at a time. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself (especially in your mind). (2) Calm not only feels good, but it is good for you.The constant release of stress hormones interferes with the healthy functioning of your body which leads to decreases in your immune system, disrupted sleep, fatigue and much more. In addition to the negative impact on your physical health, stress also prevents wise and rational thinking. So, go outside, read a good book, turn off the TV and find more moments of calm in each day, which will help you stay physically and mentally healthy. (3) Know the facts.There is a lot of misinformation out there which is the source of much stress. Turn to reliable sources and get the facts about what you can do to stay healthy. One of the greatest causes of stress is uncertainty and a feeling of lack of control. Get the facts from reliable sources like – .Best practices to keep healthy from the CDC and follow these best practices to be informed and more in control of what you can do to stay healthy.
(4) Try these Modern Mantras. I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation for over a decade and I know firsthand that mindfulness can be a lifesaver when it comes to getting through very challenging situations. Here are my favorite Modern Mantras that I use every day, but especially in times of stress, to help keep me present, grounded and calm. They work. Give them a try!
🙏 I am here. This is a wonderful way to remind yourself to be present, particularly when your mind takes you into all kinds of stressful thoughts. So, you can mentally note, “I am here” and connect to being exactly where you are. this plain and true fact. Remind yourself to be exactly where you are – – which is the ONLY place you will ever actually be.
🙏 Just this. Just now. Take a deep breath and note, “Just this breath. . . Just Now.” Taking mini moments of awareness all day long will help you stay in the present and not get caught up in those thoughts that too often take you into dark or scary places in your mind. Simplify your focus on just one thing (just this breath, just this sunshine, just this blue sky) and savor it! It can feel really nice and relaxing.
🙏 That’s Interesting. Instead of being hard on yourself or being angry at someone or something that happened, simply note, “That’s interesting.” Be curious about how you feel and interested in how you are reacting rather than angry, scared or upset. This mantra will help you be with what is and let go of any judgment or unhelpful reactions to it.
🙏 What if it’s not a problem? We often look at how we are feeling or what is happening as a major problem, but what if it’s not a problem? If we can simply note it without making it a bigger deal than it is, then we can move forward with much greater ease, calm and wisdom!
🙏 That just happened. When something is over, it’s over. Yet, we often linger and revisit it in our minds over and over again. Instead, try noting. “That just happened.” This will help you see it, feel it and move on.
🙏 Remember the “And” Always look for the “AND” in any situation. Even when you are facing challenges, open your attention a bit wider and make room for something pleasant that is there as well. There is ALWAYS an AND. It can be quite simple – – – the sunshine, your breath, or the kindness of a friend or stranger. This will help you welcome something pleasant into your awareness, savor and enjoy it.
I am always looking for the “AND” which has served me well over the past few years when facing many of life’s challenges. In light of our current situation, I am finding many “ANDs” along the way. For example, in light of a potential school closure or need to work from home, I am looking forward to keeping my kids safe while enjoying more time with them (which is so fleeting and precious). And, I can’t wait to watch some good movies and read some of those books sitting on my bedside table.And, I am feeling lucky to have a home to be in while waiting this out. And, I am grateful for being able to call my family and friends to check in. And, as I look outside right now, I am enjoying the beauty of the gorgeous blue sky and bright sunshine. So many ANDs to focus on! So, look for the good, the pleasant, the amazing, and the joyous all around you. In times like these, they are there, you just have to see them and take time to enjoy them!
Cheryl, Stephanie and the Pause to be Present team