Improve the Moment: One Thing in the Moment

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One thing in the moment is the same thing as One-mindfully, or Mindfulness, which we talked about when we discussed the Core Mindfulness skills. It means focusing on the one thing that you are doing right now, in the present moment. This can be very helpful if you are in a distressing situation or a crisis. It can give you some time to settle down and calm down.

Often our suffering is made more intense by remembering past suffering and worrying about future suffering. If we can stay in the moment and focus on what is happening in the here and now, our suffering will be greatly reduced.

Mindfulness or one thing in the moment is a skill that can be practiced. Later in this lesson there will be some simple exercises that you can use to practice mindfulness, and then a little later on, we will have some more breathing and awareness exercises.


Awareness Exercises

You might try this exercise, suggested by Marsha Linehan in the manual. Close your eyes and get in touch with some current discomfort or anxiety - one that you are experiencing right now. Notice your level of discomfort. Now start thinking about times in the past that you have had to endure such feelings, and think about how many more times you are going to have to endure such feelings. Notice your level of discomfort.

Now let your mind refocus on this moment, letting all the past and future thoughts and feelings go. Take some time to focus again just on this present moment. Notice your level of discomfort. What do you notice? Share with the list if you are comfortable doing so.

To get a sense of what "in the moment" or mindfulness feels like, try the following exercises. Just breathe slowly and gently through each exercise, and concentrate fully on what you are doing right then.

Breathing Awareness

Close your eyes, put your right hand on your abdomen, right at the waistline, and put your left hand on the center of your chest.

Without trying to change your breathing, notice how you are breathing. Which hand rises most as you inhale, the hand on your chest or the hand on your belly?

If your abdomen expands, then you are breathing from your abdomen or diaphragm. If your belly doesn't move, or moves less than your chest, then you are breathing from your chest.

The trick to shifting from chest to abdominal breathing is to make one or two full exhalations that push out the air from the bottom of your lungs. This will create a vacuum that will pull in a deep diaphragmatic or abdominal breath the next time you breathe in.

Focus on your breathing in this way for a few minutes.

Body Scanning

Close your eyes, and starting with toes and moving slowly up your body, ask yourself "Where am I tense?" When you discover a tense area, exaggerate it slightly, so you can become aware of it. Be aware of the muscles in your body that are tense. Then, for example, say to yourself, "I am tensing my neck muscles...I am creating tension in my body." At this point, be aware of anything that is creating tension in your body and what you might do to change it.

Everyday Awareness

Use your breath in helping you to become more aware in your everyday life. Cue into the process of mindful breathing in all different situations - waiting for the bus, watching the sunset, sitting in church, eating an ice cream cone, playing with your dog, listening to your favorite music.

  • Ask what is my body doing?
  • Where are my thoughts taking me?
  • Who is the person I'm talking with?
  • What does this food feel like in my mouth?
  • Why is my shoulder feeling so tight?

  • This awareness is the verbalized appreciation of the way things are - the experience of "just being with" the flower, the other person,  the movement of your body as you dance. You are in the moment, enjoying and appreciating what is.

    Awareness of Sound
  • Close your eyes and stand very still. Listen carefully. What is the furthest sound you can hear? Concentrate on that one. Hear it with the "ear" of every cell of your body.
  • Stand very close to a tree or bush. Listen only for the sound of the wind playing with the leaves or branches. Experience yourself as a tree. Listen for what the wind does to your body.
  • Locate a source of running water - a river, a stream, a waterfall. Close your eyes and allow the sound of moving water to fill you. Try to attend to nothing else.  Hear the water with your whole body. Imagine that it is running through you - the channel. Allow it to cleanse and refresh you. Become a part of the water.
  • Most large buildings have an air-conditioning system or heating system which makes a continual background noise. Close your eyes and listen for this sound. Use the sound to relax yourself.
  • Tangerine/Orange Meditation

    Sit at a table with a tangerine or an orange in front of you. (You may also use a grape.) Look at the tangerine. Look at the color and the shape. Notice any markings. See the dimple at the center. Is it exactly round? Hold the tangerine in your hands. Feel the skin. Smell the skin. Imagine the grove where the tangerine grew, and see it hanging on the tree. See the other trees in the grove. Now begin to peel the tangerine. Feel the oiliness of the skin. Notice the inside of the peel. Notice the color and shape of the section. See the white strings on the section of tangerine. Hold it to your nose and smell its fragrance. Bite into the tangerine. Feel its texture. Notice its taste. Are there seeds? Is it juicy? Does the juice run down your chin or get on your fingers? Continue to eat the pieces of tangerine - how many slices are there? Notice how you feel after eating the tangerine. How was the experience of really taking notice of how it looked, smelled, tasted? This is mindful eating.

    Try eating some other foods in this way, really paying attention to the food and the experience of eating it.

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