Stress Free Zone

Practice this “One Thing” and Reduce a Whole Lot of Stress

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You know how important it is to reduce stress in you life. Stress leads to breakdowns in the two most important areas of your life – your health and your relationships. That’s all I’m going to say about why. What you really want to know is how!

The biggest reason you are stressed is not all the chaos that is going on around you, it’s the chaos that is going on in your head. Do you ever spend anytime thinking about where your mind takes you? How much of your thinking is focused on something in the past?

Perhaps you have experienced something similar to this scenario:

Your brushing your teeth and you start thinking about the argument with your ex about child support…then about your own father who did not support you… so you had to wear a second hand prom dress…and didn’t get to go to college…and have never known what it means to be loved and supported by a man.

Make an educated guess as to how much of your internal focus during the day is on the past:

a. < 25% b. 25% - 50% c. 50% - 75% d. >75%

When you’re not focused on stuff that happened in the past, chances are you thinking about the future, as in this example:

Your putting laundry in the washer and you start thinking about what you’re going to cook for dinner this week…and how you need to stop eating gluten…and how GMOs are destroying the world’s food supply…and that your immune system is being destroyed…and you can’t afford to get sick.

Now make an educated guess as to how much of your internal focus during the day is on the future:

a. < 25% b. 25% - 50% c. 50% - 75% d. >75%

In both scenarios you were safe – there was no danger whatsoever. But, by the time you were rinsing toothpaste out of your mouth, your body perceived you were actually being neglected and rejected. It was preparing you for isolation and victimization. By the time you were putting the lid down on the washer, your body was preparing you for malnourishment and suffering.

Now make an educated guess as to how much time your body is being placed under stress when there is no actual stressor – except the thoughts you are creating:

a. < 25% b. 25% - 50% c. 50% - 75% d. >75%

Now comes the “One Thing”:

STAY IN THE PRESENT MOMENT

The majority of the time there is no actual stress beyond your thoughts, which are either taking you somewhere in the past or somewhere in the future. If you stay focused on what’s happening in the here and now, your body will not be taken into a place of stress that doesn’t really exist.

Here are some tips for staying focused on the here and now. By the way, the present moment is the only thing that exists or has ever existed.

1. Be aware of your senses. Take note of what you are hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and feeling. For instance, if you are doing the dishes, what does the soapy water feel like? How is your skin reacting to the warm wetness? What does the detergent smell like? What is the sound the dishes make as you stack them to dry? What does the air feel like in your nostrils as you breathe in? Does it feel different than when you breathe out? You may even find that the most mundane chores become pleasant when you make them sensual.

2. Catch the thoughts as they come. When you notice that a thought arises, simply observe that it is there and then “come back to your senses”.

3. Identify any emotions. Your body always responds to your thoughts, often with a feeling known as an emotion. When this happens, just put a name to the feeling and then ask if you can let it go. Say your thought took you to the past and the emotion was sadness. Just say to yourself, “Oh yeah…that’s sadness. Can I let it go now?” Then put your focus back on the senses. Caution: Your egoic mind is addicted to the drama so it may not want you to let it go. This is why #4 is so important.

4. Don’t judge the thoughts or feelings. Be patient with this process. Your egoic mind really wants to have your attention. Just like a child who wants your attention while you’re on the phone, you just need to redirect the attention grabbing behavior gently and consistently.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice. Like any new skill, you will need to consciously practice these steps before staying in the moment comes naturally. When you were learning to tie your shoes, you had to concentrate on each step and then like magic, one day you tied your shoes without having to thinking about it. At some point, you will find that you are able to stay present even while your boss is having a temper tantrum, or you had a flat tire on the way to a job interview.

Benefits of Staying Present

    1. When your mind isn’t taking you to events from the past or imaginings of the future (that mostly evoke the stress response) you are able to access the logical, problem solving part of the brain. You will find when problems do arise, that would normally overwhelm you, you are able to access a simple solution or maybe even recognize its not really a problem at all.

    2. Because you are much more aware of sensual information you are more tuned into your intuition. My favorite saying is “Sanity happens when you are out of your mind.” When you quiet the egoic mind, you will become aware of information that had previously been drowned out.

    3. As you stop giving your thoughts the power over now, you come to realize how much life you have been missing. You will start to notice the beauty and small miracles that surrounds you. Your overall mood will lighten as you take in these simple pleasures.

    4. Should you continue practicing this “One Thing” you may discover there is a calm, peaceful, happy, wonderful you. Of course, this you has always been there. You were just obscured by those tacky thoughts you assumed was you.

    For those of you who are new to practicing “One Thing”, I would love to hear what kinds of benefits you are beginning to notice from living in the present moment. And for those of you who are seasoned “One Thing” practitioners, please let others how this practice has changed your experience of stress. THANK YOU!

  1. Nat Couropmitree
    Nat Couropmitree02-25-2014

    Great article Forrest! So many great points! It’s so true that many people are living more in the past and future rather than the present. I think this is because we’re conditioned to focus on the problems so that we can fix them. But as you pointed out, this only stirs up our not-so-good feelings (aka stress).

    Since “The majority of the time there is no actual stress beyond your thoughts”, acknowledging our feelings can help us get to the core thoughts that create our stress. I like to tell my clients that their feelings/emotions are like signs or warning lights; they have information to help you. One would never be driving, see a ‘Bridge out’ sign, get upset at the sign and keep on driving on. Yet we do this with our feelings. By being present and loving towards ourselves, we can uncover what will help us experience deeper piece. And… the more frequent we allow this space for ourselves, the easier it is to experience the good-feeling emotions, to where the good-feeling stuff is the norm and stress is a once in awhile visitor 🙂

    • admin
      admin02-25-2014

      Thank you, Nat, and I am so appreciative of your comments. “I like to tell my clients that their feelings/emotions are like signs or warning lights; they have information to help you.” I tell my clients the very same thing. The mind has a way of deceiving us, but our bodies/feelings never lie. They are rich with information and we pay attention to them, they are the fertilizer for incredible growth.

  2. Jack Stephens
    Jack Stephens02-25-2014

    Be here now. So simple. So difficult. Forrest, thank you for explaining how to do so with practical wisdom and gentle grace. For me, the one of the greatest benefits I’ve experienced is your benefit #3: “…you come to realize how much life you have been missing. You will start to notice the beauty and small miracles that surrounds you. Your overall mood will lighten as you take in these simple pleasures.” Absolutely!

    • admin
      admin02-25-2014

      Thanks for chiming in, Jack! “Be here now. So simple. So difficult.” No, it’s not always easy to stay in the present, but it does seem to become easier to re-member with practice. And I agree that benefit #3 is one of the best. So much to notice, take in, experience, rejoice in!

  3. Priscilla Smith
    Priscilla Smith02-25-2014

    That’s beautiful, Forrest! So clear and yet succinct. Wonderful!

    • admin
      admin02-25-2014

      I greatly appreciate your positive feedback, Priscilla! I am so glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Liesel
    Liesel02-26-2014

    Forrest, what a fantastic article! I love the simple “one thing” – and I get it takes practice, and kindness and compassion towards ourselves to just keep practicing. We’ve been conditioned for so, so long to want to figure things out, control it, make it happen the “right” way – so it’ll take some patience, time and grace to “undo” the learning from the past.

    Beautiful, elegant and graceful writing. Thank you for the wisdom!

    • admin
      admin02-26-2014

      Hi Liesel! Thanks for joining the conversation! “We’ve been conditioned for so, so long to want to figure things out, control it, make it happen the “right” way.” Yep! Because of this programming staying in conscious awareness does take practice. I’m finding the rewards/benefits of staying in the now are giving me motivation to put it into practice more and more often. Bottom line…it feels good!

  5. The Real Casey Choate
    The Real Casey Choate02-26-2014

    Synchronicity! I’ve been watching videos about this exact same thing all morning today and most of last night. It’s so important to just *be here now* 🙂

    • admin
      admin02-26-2014

      Isn’t it amazing how synchronicities are so apparent when we are living in conscious awareness? Thanks for chiming in, Casey!

  6. Oge
    Oge02-27-2014

    Practice practice practice. The proof is in the eating. Nothing works unless you actually do it.
    Thank you Forrest I really enjoyed reading and being reminded to stay in the moment

    • admin
      admin02-27-2014

      Oge, “Nothing works unless you actually do it.” Hallelujah! For me it’s remembering to re-member…LOL. Thanks for putting your conscious attention to my article, as your energy is always welcomed! 🙂

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