Be Here Now: Simple Breath Counting Exercise to Refocus Your Mind

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find my mind getting really busy and cloudy. At times it’s a general sense of busyness, other times it’s full on craziness. One of the fastest mind-calming exercises that I use is the breath counting exercise.

Here’s how:

Find a comfortable seat.

Soften your eyes, relax your body.

Focus all your attention on the brush of air against your nostrils as your breathe. When you inhale, feel cool air entering your nose. When you exhale, feel warm air exiting.

Start counting your breath. When you inhale, count 1. When you exhale, count 2. Inhale, count 3. Exhale, count 4. All the way to 10. Once you’ve arrived at 10, go back to 1 and repeat.

Keep repeating this until your mind quietens down.

A few rules of this game:

1. If you get distracted, go back to 1

Perhaps you start thinking of lunch, or what happened at work. Perhaps you start thinking of someone or something. Notice when that happens, go back to 1.

2. If you go on autopilot mode, go back to 1

You’ve lost count. You’ve counted to 14, 15, 16… Go back to 1. Pay attention.

3. It doesn’t matter if you never make it to 10.

We all know that you can count to 10! The practice is not in the counting.

The practice is in paying attention and being vigilant to the times when your mind wanders off, and mindfully bringing yourself back to the counts. It doesn’t matter if you never make it to 10. It is more crucial that you catch yourself when you lose focus.

Have you failed if you don’t reach 10?

NO. The magic happens in those little moments when you notice that you have drifted off. Those moments are the highlights of your practice. Those moments, no matter how minute, make your practice a successful one. So don’t get frustrated or upset. It’s always a work in progress. Stay vigilant, find your next moment to train your mind to be more mindful.

The Gratitude Exercise Everyone Should be Doing

You will instantly experience positive feelings if you were to list 20 things that you’re grateful for right now.

Seeing the glass as half full not only gives us more positive emotions, but also helps us to deal with adversity, make better choices, build stronger relationships, live healthier and even improve productivity. While co-relation doesn’t mean causation, research in positive psychology has found these strong associations, which give us good reason to practice gratitude.

This is a gratitude exercise that everyone should be doing on a daily basis:

  1. Set a timer for 10 minutes (or however much time you have)
  2. Indiscriminately list as many things that you’re grateful for as you can

The key here is to avoid discriminating what comes up. Don’t label things as ‘superficial’, too minute or unworthy of your gratitude list. Being grateful for your appearance or the frivolous things that you buy for yourself is not superficial. Your silky hair, the ice cream in your fridge, your family and your health are all things that are worthy to be grateful for, even though some of them might play a more significant role in your life than others. Indiscriminately listing out what we’re grateful for also reminds us of things that we might have taken for granted.

The key here is to keep the momentum going and look for something, regardless of significance, to be grateful for. In this case, the more the merrier 🙂

“If there’s only one thing that you can do today, let it be acknowledging something that you are grateful for.”

Be Here Now: Using 5 Senses to be Fully Present

Did you know?!

  • The human skin has about 35,000,000,000 cells. That’s 35 billion, if your brain just shut off after the third zero.
  • We breathe an average of 8 million breaths a year. Maybe fewer if you practice this breath meditation.
  • The human ear can hear frequencies as low as 20 Hz and as high as 20,000 Hz.
  • The human eye can see millions of colours.
  • The average human tongue is 3 inches long…

👅😏😬

At 3.97 inches, Nick Stoeberl holds the Guinness World Records of World’s Longest Tongue – beat that!

Our five senses are powerful tools that help us experience life and absorb everything that’s happening around us.

Here’s a quick, tangible and systematic 5 senses exercise to remind us to Be Here Now.

Do this in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, on walks, at work, while brushing your teeth, while cooking, while eating… Do it alone, with your partner, with friends, with your kids… It’s a great activity that can be done anytime, whether you’re flying solo or spending time with loved ones!

So let’s get into it. Take your time and do it with me as you’re reading this –

1. Name 5 objects that you can see

They can be anything! But I encourage you to look in places that you seldom explore. For example, the sky, the ceiling, the corners of the room, underneath your mug and maybe even underneath your feet!

2. Feel 4 things that you can touch

They could be the wind against your skin, the clothes you are wearing, hair against your face and your feet against the ground.

3. Identify 3 sounds that you can hear

Don’t qualify them as pleasant or unpleasant, simply observe. The sounds of the vehicles on the road, the sound of your breath, the sound of someone’s voice.

4. Identify 2 scents that you can smell

Again, don’t qualify the smell. Sometimes it’s not the most pleasant but the point of mindfulness is simply to observe, not to reflect or analyse. This might be the smell of your coffee, your neighbour’s cooking or even the smell of trees 😍

Kudos to you if you’re practising this in the toilet like what I did before!

5. Identify 1 taste in your mouth

Hot coffee, your food, water or even just the general taste in your mouth works just as well.

It’s that easy! I hope you’re feeling fully present now. It’s SO important to Be Here Now and pay attention to what you’re doing, the conversation you’re having, how you are feeling and what you are thinking.

It has been great hanging with you here, let me know how being fully present has influenced you. Till we meet again, cheers 🍷

 

 

 

Be Here Now: A 1-minute Grounding Meditation

Here’s a quick, easy and fuss-free mind exercise for those times that you experience any of these:

  • Fear or anxiousness
  • An overwhelming sense of uncertainty
  • Persistent worry about the future
  • Feelings of a lack of control over circumstances
  • A busy and unfocused mind

I also often practice this in the first few minutes of teaching each yoga class; especially when my mind is busy and unfocused.

What “Being Grounded” Actually Means

Merriam-Webster:

Mentally and emotionally stable: admirably sensible, realistic, and unpretentious

Michael Daniels. Shadow, Self, Spirit (2005):

A sense of being fully embodied, whole, centered and balanced in ourselves and our relationships.

Here’s my favourite, by the Cambridge Dictionary:

Someone who is grounded makes good decisions and does not say or do stupid things.

Haha there’s truth in that definition. Jokes aside, here’s your 1-minute Groundedness Meditation guide:

  1. Step your feet on the ground. If possible, close your eyes. Otherwise, just keep your eyes relaxed.
  2. Bring your full attention to the contact between the soles of your feet and the ground.
  3. Imagine roots, like a tree, growing out from your feet into the ground, rooting you firmly and holding you steady.
  4. Stop moving. Choose to be still.
  5. Breathe and continue to focus your attention on the contact between your feet and the earth.
  6. Stay for at least a minute or until the anxiety and negative feelings subside

Make a conscious effort to keep your thoughts and feelings in check throughout your day, and practice this as often as you need to. Have that quiet confidence that you are in full control of what you will manifest in your life.

For more tips on being present, check out the rest of my Be Here Now Mindfulness Series.

Be Here Now: 3 Steps to Clarity of Thought

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We have an average of 48.6 thoughts per minute. 10% conscious, 90% subconscious.

Silence allows us to witness our thoughts, which helps us to see what’s happening in our minds more accurately and logically, without being caught up with the noise and chatter. Our course of action then becomes more mindful and less haphazard, more responsive rather than reactive.

It’s easy to get caught up in emotions and end up catastrophising the situation.

Your heart rate increases, breath shallows, mind is clouded and you want to take action, or your completely freeze! Now, this is when you really need to hit pause. This is when you really need to breathe. This is when stillness and your breath can work their magic.

Find a quiet, safe spot. Take a seat. Carry all your emotions, thoughts and desires with you; you are human. Be kind to yourself.

1. Sit up tall

Create space for your lungs to move as you breathe. You might also find it more comfortable to sit on a cushion.

2. Take deep breaths in and out through your nose.

As you inhale, visualise your breath flowing smoothly into your nose, to the crown of your head and down your spine, then coming back the same way as you exhale.

3. Count your breath. ‘Inhale, exhale, one. Inhale, exhale, two. Inhale, exhale three…’ all the way to ten. Then start over again.

If you get distracted (it is normal!), start again from one.

Keep doing step 3 until you feel your mind getting clearer and less cluttered.

Setting an alarm to your desired time is also a good idea, just so that your mind doesn’t keep drifting to the clock. When I first started making this practice a daily routine, I set only three minutes each morning, yet the payoffs were tremendous. I slowly increased my quiet sitting duration minute by minute. No pressure, no competition.

There’s nothing else to do. Just breathe and enjoy the silence.

So set your timer, sit, pause, breathe and simply be.

For more meditations, check out the rest of my Be Here Now Mindfulness Series.