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How much of your time do you spend getting caught up in thoughts about the past or worrying about what might happen in the future?
We often find that we spend hours of our days thinking about the past or what might happen in the future. In doing so, we often miss out on being present in the here and now. We miss out on being present while we hug our loved ones, eat that delicious treat we have been holding out for, or we miss noticing the first jacaranda trees blooming in the spring.
The thoughts that we get caught up in about the past or the future can often provoke stress and anxiety for us. Our minds are programed to detect and protect us from any potential threat so we look to the past to inform our decisions about the future and then to the future to safeguard ourselves from potential threats. This can often lead to significant and often unnecessary distress.
A wise women once told me that we spend our whole lives worrying about all the things that never happen and the things that do happen, we never see coming. This has stuck with me over the years and has lead me to question…are all these worrying thoughts about the past and future really helping me? Are your worrying thoughts really helping you? Would you like to be more present and engaged for all the special moments you have been missing in life?
Here are some practical and effective tips for how we can stay in the present and grounded.
Grounding your Feet
If you are feeling disconnected from the present, one of the simplest and easiest way to ground yourself is to push your feet into the ground (it’s obvious in retrospect isn’t it?).
If you are standing, think about trying to apply pressure evenly from the front to the back of your feet. Spread your toes wide. Notice the stable base you have created to support your body. Imagine that your feet are like to roots of a tree grounding your body. How does this feel?
If you are sitting, push your feet into the ground. Notice how this feels in your legs. Notice how the chair supports your body and where your body connects to the chair. How does this feel?
Stop. Close your eyes. Listen. Notice and distinguish every sound you can hear right now, in this moment. Is there a car driving by? Can you hear the dull hum of an air conditioner or fan? Did you notice that bird chirping, the kids laughing or the wind rustling through the trees? How does this feel?
Stand (or sit) where you are and look around. Pick a colour and identify everything you can see that is a shade of that colour. How many different items can you see? How does this feel?
Still caught up in worrying thoughts? Pick another colour and again look around and identify everything you can see in that colour? What have you noticed that you have not notice before? How do you feel now?
Sitting in a comfortable chair with your eyes closed, place a pillow (or something similar) on your lap. Run your hands over the surface of the pillow. How does it feel (soft/squishy/hard/rough)? What is its temperature (warm/cool?)? Feel around the edges of the pillow. How does this feeling differ from when you were moving your hands across the top of the pillow? What is the weight of the pillow (heavy/light)? How does it feel to have the pillow sitting on your lap with your hands resting on top?
How do you feel in this moment?
You may have noticed that all these exercises have something on common? Each exercise utilises at least one our five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste and sound).
These exercises are just an example of different ways you can stay grounded in the present. I am sure that you can adapt these exercise to best suit you as well as come up with many other different exercises. I try to develop practical exercises that my clients can use in any situation. The general rule of thumb is to engage at least one of your five senses in the activity. The second thing is that you are observing what is happening for you in that moment.
Can you think of another practical activity using your senses that you could engage in everyday?