Sitting down to do yoga on a Monday morning, my mind is flooded with all the of the things that I “need to do” today and the coming week. Instead of paying attention to the sensations in my body, co-ordinating movement with my breath, and slowing down my thoughts, I’m going through the motions with my mind running a marathon a million miles away.
So I started to keep my notebook* close by and when an “I need to” thought popped up, I would write it down. When that thought would inevitably pop up again, I would remind myself it has already been logged and I can return my attention to my body and breath. Even though my notebook was close by, I tried to not encourage thoughts of “what else do I need to do today?” Instead, once I logged an errant thought, I would take a deep breath (for me, this means intentionally breathing low and releasing my tight, lower abdominals which stimulates the vagus nerve) and say, if I only do this once today, may I be fully present with the experience. Then I would proceed with stretching, the phrase having reminded me of my goal to connect deeper with my breath, sensations in my body, and the world around me.
The phrase has not only been confined to my time on the mat. Throughout my day, no matter the activity, I try to remember to pause, breathe, and increase my presence in the moment. I have found that repeating if I only do this once today, may I be fully present with the experience has helped ground me in the moment and as a result, my anxiety has improved. Taking it a step further, if feelings of anxiety are particularly high, I connect individually to my senses asking: what I am seeing, what am I feeling, what am I hearing, what am I smelling, and finally, what am I tasting?
Please comment with phrases that have helped you in the hopes that they can help others!
*Committing to an organization system has radically changed my life. I’m going to write a future post about how I have combined David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” and Ryder Carroll’s “Bullet Journal” to get things out of my head. It has given me the mental space to focus, instead of a constantly being interrupted by thoughts like “I can’t forget to do x” or “I need to do y.”