October 28, 2020 by Mark Power
A good way to develop calm and become more present in your life is by adopting a reflective practice. Reflections invite us to be intentional–to be mindful and present. I call this “Mindful Presence”. Here, I’ll introduce you to the practice of Pause-Relax-Reflect. It’s one that you can do anywhere, and especially in moments of stress.
The most important aspect of this practice, and the simplest, is remembering to Pause. It’s too simple, so we forget. As a result, we’re unable to change our habits or create positive ones. The best way to remember to Pause is to commit to doing it for a few minutes several times a day, and definitely in advance of situations you know will be stressful: “The next time I meet (person, place or thing), I’ll remember to Pause”. Here’s how you do it.
To Pause is to notice when you’re starting to feel upset or reactive and you slightly shift your attention to sensations in your body, which is more grounded than your mind and emotions. Shift your attention into observational mode, like you’re sitting on the seashore watching waves on the ocean. Take several full breaths. Pause and notice…
To Relax is to explore sensations more carefully. Breathe full breaths, feeling each breath from inhale to exhale and release. Your attention is focused and also relaxed. Take a few breaths in this way.
You may quickly discover that your thoughts don’t stop, and it’s easy to get frustrated and to think you’re doing it wrong–you’re not. The intensity might continue–decide not to fight with it. Experiment with observing your thoughts–waves on the ocean–constant activity, but the ocean itself isn’t bothered. Take a few breaths here.
Notice any emotion that’s present, and where in your body you feel it most. Try to sense it with a mind of discovery and inquisitiveness–not analyzing but observing like a child discovering colors!! Breathe and be present with this experience.
To Relax, observe the experience of your body, mind and emotion. Take time to be curious. Ask, “What else can I notice here?” Breathe fully and easily. Allow relaxation to happen, any amount.
After you Relax, even a little, Reflect, by connecting with purpose. For today let’s use “reducing stress and developing calm” as the purpose. That’s something we all greatly need. Reflect by inviting this desirable quality into your experience. Here’s one way you can try, by asking a simple question: “In this moment, how might I connect with any amount of calm?” Or, (insert your choice of personal strengths)
Let the response include your body – as you continue to feel your breath, be aware of what else you’re feeling in response to this question. What is the feeling of “calm” or “less stress”. Where is it in your body? At the beginning, just remembering to ask the question and open the invitation is success. Soon you’ll begin to experience surprising results of your practice.
Remember, the tone of the question is invitational, not a desperate plea for a solution. “How” is the voice of curiosity, and “might I connect” is like opening the door to allow a friend to enter.
Here’s a simple practice to aid your research!
Visit Mark’s website for other resources. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram @markpowercoaching. I offer weekly reflections and short guided practices on FB Live Wednesdays at 12ET –Poetry and Presence–for the remainder of 2020. Join me for a brief respite in the middle of your week!