4721798240_0beb2a46ab_zTo make sure that they did not become a tasty meal, our ancestors’ brains developed a necessary vigilance and unease which continually scanned their outer and inner worlds for signs of danger.  This whisper of worry is still present today and so automatic that most are not even aware of it, but it is always there rearing its ugly head as anxiety, stress, and tension.

Neurologists estimate that a person is consciously aware of about 2,000 bits of information per minute.  As impressive as this is, your brain is actually processing 400 billion bits of information per minute. When you think you are not doing anything, your brain is hard at work.  This constant attentiveness, even when we are aware of it, can prevent relaxation and peace because our brain believes that we are never completely safe and can’t let down our guard.  But, that is not true.

Bring Your Mind Into the Present

One way to turn your brain’s checker down a notch is to take a close look at this moment.  Right here, right now, you are all right.  Nothing is trying to eat you for dinner.  No one is attacking you.  You are not drowning.  You are not dodging bullets. There is no crisis.

Everything in your life may not be perfect, but you are OK. This is the act of consciously coming into the present.  When we let our mind dwell in the future, it propagates worry and fear while delving into the past conjures regret and resentment.  Indulging in these thought patterns too much can infringe on everyday life and lead to depression.

Several times throughout your day, try taking a moment and noticing that you are all right, right now. The bills may be piling up with you having no idea of how they are going to get paid.  Your mother may have Alzheimer’s and dealing with that is wearing you out.  You may be starting to wonder if there really is someone out there for you, BUT in this moment, your heart is beating, you are breathing, and your mind is working.

Underneath the circumstances, desires, and wants, you are OK.  While fixing dinner, walking through the grocery store, driving to work, or reading emails, come into the present and remind your brain “I am all right, right now.”

In his book, Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time, Rick Hanson, writes:

… Sometimes you’re really not all right.  Maybe something terrible has happened, or your body is very disturbed, or your mind is very upset.  Do what you can at these times to ride out the storm.  But as soon as possible,  notice that the core of your being is okay, like the quiet place fifty feet underwater, beneath a hurricane howling above the sea.

Calms Your Mind and Body

Coming into the present moment calms the mind soothing the sympathetic nervous system reducing stress and anxiety in the brain and body.  With dedicated repetition, over time, a person’s default mode can become this relaxed, peaceful state.

The practice of realizing that “I am all right, right now” has helped me to dramatically turn my mindset and life around for the better.  This simple practice can change your life too.

image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/beth19/

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  1. This one sounds like it’s related to the brain-adrenal cortex link. That’s when stresses (sometimes environmental, sometimes perceived) trigger the “fight or flight” reaction. The brain says “put out that go juice”, and your frontal cortex chooses how to use it, in escaping or to stand and confront.

    If there was mistletoe there, I would kiss ya!

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Muwah! A big smoochie to you, Mikey! I have had enough years unconsciously putting out the “go juice” living in the flight or fight hell. I am glad that I finally learned how to calm my reptilian brain and want others to know they can too!

  2. Hi Debbie. Thank you. You’re message has arrived at just the right time for me. I have been on holiday since Christmas Eve but still not quite switched off from the stresses of work. I should know better since I’ve read and blogged about Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now. So thank you for the reminder – I feel more relaxed already! take care, Stephen

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Happy holidays and new year to you, Stephen. Glad that this post served as a positive reminder for you!

  3. Those are pretty amazing statistic about the amount of information our brain is processing in every moment. I love this simple practice of coming into the present moment and reminding ourselves that we’re OK right now. I’m definitely going to try that one on! Thanks.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Sandra, coming into the present moment always works for me. The challenge is to remember to do it! However, it is becoming my default more and more. It is amazing to me how effective simple tools like this are. Makes me wonder, why they don’t teach this stuff in schools?

  4. I have been working on this myself but internally spoken it in a different way. I was wondering if fear of any sort, really serves us anymore. For example, in a situation where your life is in jeopardy, wouldn’t it be better to keep calm and figure a way to survive rather than to only have two options (ie; fight/flight) which only clog creative thought? I can’t think of a way that fear serves us anymore, canoe? Weaning off fear is the start of a whole new relationship with oneself and with the rest of life, humans included. It’s the start of a symphony which is more realistic than the drivel we’re handed from the stale, old primitive thinking , (financial success. notoriety, etc) We have always looked out not inwards, and consequently have not practiced our innate skills. I’m going to cut the chase here, and say that the first step to confronting fear is to relinquish the need for a god of any kind. The pursuant feeling after the crisis is one of an incredible discovery of the surprising strength of oneself. The euphoria of “worshiping” a god is far surpassed by the newfound revelry.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Fear does serve a purpose in emergency situations by allowing our body to respond physically in extraordinary ways. However, this is very rarely necessary these days in our lives. So, I am with you in wondering if it really serves us anymore. I also agree that the first step to confronting fear and the hold it has over our lives is to relinquish the “need” for it and to become aware of this need. I think, we are raised and immersed in a culture that promotes living in fear which encourages stress, anxiety which results in disease. It is a vcious cycle.

      In my own life, becoming conscious of this fear based existence and changing it has allowed joy, peace and happiness. All it took was a shift of perception.

  5. Hi Debbie,
    Pleased to have discovered your site. Though rarely “easy,” bringing ourselves back to the present, is one’s of life’s greatest gifts. Because it requires us to “be with” feelings that are often uncomfortable (fear, I believe, being the basis for most) the release that can come from letting go is constantly reaping us rewards. Of course, now we’re learning more about this from neuroscience research – the benefits being cumulative.
    You are right, this simple practice can change your life.


    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      George, thank you for commenting. The benefits of coming into the present and other mindfulness techniques are so simple yet powerful to improve one’s life and bring peace and happiness. And, as you say, neuroscience is finding that these practices make LASTING changes to the brain. Every child should be taught these tools and they should be a first option before antidepressants, in my humble opinion!

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