What are your feet doing right now? In this actual moment that you are living in? Poor feet – they work so hard for us and they don’t get much attention! Not unless they start to ache. Have you noticed that we don’t tend to notice our bodies unless they are hurting? I wonder what else we miss when our attention is always drawn to the endless commentaries going on in our minds? How tangled up we get in those ruminations and in trying to control anxiety. Even though, our wisdom would tell us that we only ever have the moment that we are actually living in. It might also tell us that investing all our attention on the worries of our minds; trying to control fear, is wasted energy. So what’s the alternative if we can’t control fear? One suggestion is to defuse from the endless noise of the mind by focusing on the present moment. Intentionally and mindfully, bringing your awareness to the moment you are actually living.
In a blog from 2018 (Hello Darkness) the founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Dr Steven C. Hayes, says that this approach can help us to lead more meaningful lives by bringing awareness to the full range of thoughts and feelings we experience from moment to moment. This indicates perhaps that thoughts and feelings change as we go from moment to moment, that they don’t stay completely static, but how will we train ourselves to notice the changes, if we haven’t developed in the moment awareness? And how can we learn to stay connected to the moment we are actually in if we do not turn our attention to being aware of it?
I invite you to experiment with grounding yourself in the moment you are in:
Whatever you are doing right now, push your feet into the ground beneath you. Bring your attention to the connection you have with the ground and the sensations of your feet as they tense against the surface. Bring your attention to the big toe on your right foot. Really focus on it (knowing that your mind will distract you – and that’s okay). Can you visualise that big toe swelling up, getting bigger and bigger until it fills your shoe? Spend a minute just imagining this and focusing on the sensations and tingles of your toe as it gets bigger. Now visualise the toe shrinking back down to it’s normal size, and perhaps you can “feel” the sense of retraction? Go slow, don’t rush it. Now switch your attention to the big toe of your left foot, and do the same again. Visualise it getting bigger, and then visualise it getting smaller, connecting to the sensations this brings.
If you would like, you can extend this exercise to focusing attention on the rest of the feet and ankles, up into the calves and knees and thighs, and so on, until you have focused attention on each part of your body.
Really, the main point is that whatever else is going on in your life or in the world around you, the present moment can act as an anchor point. When in a storm we need an anchor. Focus on this moment you are in now, then focus on the next moment, then the next moment, asking yourself as you go what am I actually doing in this moment? What can I see, feel, hear, smell and touch? There’s so much that we can’t control in life but we can make an intentional choice about what we attend to. Attending to one moment at a time can help us to feel a little more anchored and a little less overwhelmed.
Take good care.