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Shambhala Sun | September 2012

REAL PEACE IN TIMES OF STRESS / TEENS

Chilling Out, Naturally

Forget drinking or drugs—JESSICA MOREY offers teens a straightforward stress buster.

You’re worrying about tomorrow’s math test, the upcoming prom, or getting into college. You’re ruminating about yesterday’s fight with a friend or missing a goal in the big game.

This is your mind creating stress by dwelling on the future and the past. But your body is always in the present moment. So when it comes to working with stress, the body can be your best friend. Through it, you may discover that most things are manageable in this moment, and now in this moment, and now in this one. You simply have to “come to your senses,” and to do that you can use the five-senses drill. It can be done in less than three minutes. Try it and see how it works for you.

Start by focusing your attention on things you can see in the room around you. Choose an object in your visual field to focus on. Look at the object and describe it silently in your mind by noticing the color, size, shape, and texture. Repeat this with four more objects you can see. Now focus your attention on things that you can hear. Silently describe to yourself each sound, according to what kind of noise it is, how far away it is, and whether it is steady or changing. Continue listening until you have noticed at least three sounds in or near the room where you are. Next, move on to the sense of smell, and again describe silently in your mind any smells that you become aware of. This can include the fragrance of the shampoo that you last used or the laundry detergent on your clothes. Moving on to taste, see if there are any flavors lingering in your mouth, perhaps food, toothpaste, or gum.

Finally, check in with your physical body. Feel your feet on the floor. How hard or soft is the cushion or chair under your bottom? Notice the temperature of the air on any of your skin that is exposed. Take three deep breaths and notice that the focus of your attention is in the present moment. You can now return your relaxed attention back to the task in front of you.
 

Jessica Morey is executive director of Inward Bound Mindfulness Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of teens.

From the September 2012 Shambhala Sun magazine. Click here to browse the entire issue online.



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