Shifting out of anxiety – 5 steps to a calm mind

Written by Allison Wolf

A lot of us are struggling right now to deal with all the “what if” thoughts that are circling through our brains.

I want to share a simple practice for interrupting the rumination and getting back into the present moment.  I call it 5 steps to a calm mind.

  1. To begin, find something in your environment that is pleasant to look at it.  Gaze at it with your full attention.
  2. Now bring in your sense of hearing, listen to the sounds all around you while keeping your sight focused on the pleasant object.  You can also try listening deeper not just to the sounds but to the silence in which the sounds are taking place.
  3. It is time to add in the sense of touch.  Continue to gaze and listen attentively and at the same time locate a spot on your body that feels comfortable. It may just be one part of you like your big toe.  While still observing beauty and listening to silence, allow yourself to fully experience the sensation of comfort in your body.
  4. Take a slow deep breath.  Notice what you smell.  As you take in the scents around you, continue to gaze, listen, and feel into the comfortable sensation in your body.
  5. Finally, weave in your sense of taste.  What do you taste right now?  Bring this fifth sensation into your consciousness along with sight, sound, touch, and smell.

Your mind will fill with these sensations and a sense of calm will emerge.  Breathe in, and stay connected to these sensations for a few more moments.

This practice comes from author and coach Martha Beck’s book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World (p.17).

This is one of the most effective ways I have found to calm my mind. I put my eyes into soft focus by activating my peripheral vision to the left and right. Then I turn my senses to a comfortable place on my body, listen to the sounds around me and the silence behind the sounds. When my thoughts start to get noisy and busy again I just soften my gaze again, sink back into the comfortable spot on my body, activate my gaze, listening, taste and return to quiet.

It is okay when your thoughts intrude. Just notice your thoughts and then let them go.

To start, give yourself a minute or two of this practice and enjoy the moment of rest and calm.

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at allison@shiftworks.ca or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.

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