My friend, Jean Hamilton-Fford of Conscious Life Strategies, brought this one to my attention several years ago. I have found it extremely useful in staying centered and detaching from anxiety. In this pandemic atmosphere with its jarring energies spanning the globe, it seems like a great time to bring us back to center, and to calm.
Ah, the Reactionary Mind!
It’s really amazing how unconscious the emotional parts of our brains are. They run on automatic electro-chemical pathways established since our vulnerable times of childhood. In my case, I’ve always been a worry-wart trying to please everyone to keep people from getting angry at me, looking to others’ emotional states to keep me calm (quite futile, I can assure you!).
It’s like sleepwalking, this anxious state; I end up overreacting to all sorts of external circumstances because I’m relying on energies outside myself. It’s a good start to sit down to meditate by myself in order to let go of all these emotional distractions, but quite another to maintain that awareness in the midst of daily life activities. I’ve always found myself easily distracted by my own worry habits.
Staying Grounded in the Senses
Jean asked me to engage each of my senses individually to focus my awareness (that observer behind the mind noise). Takes some practice to use it in the midst of daily life activities, but it’s very relaxing. Let’s see if I can give you the “sense” of it.
Say my “monkey mind” is working me over to do with avoiding the current health challenge of the Coronavirus. I’m just standing in front of the kitchen sink. I interrupt my panicked thought by engaging my senses in the present moment.
- I see the color of the sink, look around at the floor, the shades, see the green of the cabinets (wait, I can’t think of my worries at the same time I’m doing this!);
- I listen to the low rumble of vehicles on the main road through town down the hill and the sound of birds “talking” about nest building;
- I smell the shampoo from hubby’s recent time in the shower;
- I feel the cool surface of the smooth countertop;
- I taste the egg from my recently finished breakfast.
Wow. I just forgot about all my worries, settled into the present, and heightened my senses at the same time! My brain can feel this short-circuiting of the usual worry pathways and stops its inner chatter.
You will find out if you try this that your brain really does have trouble doing more than one conscious activity at a time. And this can be an advantage in coaxing it to be quiet.
In addition to using this method to reset your emotional state, you can also go deeper into your feelings by noticing how things and people around you affect your emotions, then go into each of your senses to see where the real love or fear is.
This method also makes it easier to get into my universal energy space where I feel this connectedness to the entire fabric of the universe (something I’ve been doing off and on since at least age seven).
Try focusing in on your senses like this and see how it improves your ability to stay in the present and out of the worry pace. It could be a valuable reset in these challenging times. 🙂