While I have several tools for bringing my wandering mind back to the present moment and nipping any rising panic or anxiety in the bud, STOP is my first choice.
S – Stop!
T - Take a breath
O - Observe and name 6 things around you
P - Proceed
STOP is effective and it’s easy to remember.
When I’m driving, I use traffic lights, or a stop sign, as a reminder to STOP and be present.
I take a breath, notice 6 things and proceed.
A stop light or sign is an obvious reminder; however, you can use whatever works for you, every time you have a glass of water, a cup of tea or wash your hands.
The more I practice the easier it becomes.
I use STOP when:
· I start to feel overwhelmed, stressed or rushed
· I’m overthinking
· I need to slow down
Doing this, naming 6 things that I can see or feel, reengages the frontal cortex and moves my focus away from the flight/flight response.
I also use STOP in my formal seated meditation practice.
When my mind is very turbulent with thoughts that suck me in like quicksand, I close my eyes, focus on my breath and name 6 things I can feel, hear and smell around me. I might do this 3 or 4 times and that is my formal practice.
This is an excellent way to sit quietly for 5 or 10 minutes and just be present.
It’s easy and simple to do, I can anywhere, anytime and no one even knows that I’m doing it.
Image courtesy Nick Fewings - Unsplash