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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Kick Stress to the Curb Using Mindfulness: Being present in each moment makes a huge difference, says Julie Lemerond of A Mindfulness Life Center.

Jun 29, 2016 04:03PM ● By Julie Lemerond

Stress shows up in everyone’s life, and whether we are 8 or 80, the world is moving at an increasingly accelerated pace and we are all along for the ride. We can’t slow down the world, but we can slow down our inner world. Making inner peace our priority is just a matter of choosing to do so. One of the core concepts of mindfulness is to be present, or fully engaged, in each moment. While it may seem impossible to be fully present in each moment of each day, we can notice when we are not present and make a conscious decision to reel our mind back in to the here and now.

One of the easiest ways to bring an overloaded mind that is focused on the future or past into the present is to simply take a deep breath—then take another deep breath—and notice what it feels like in the body to focus on our breath. We usually practice shallow breathing, and this exercise brings the realization of what deep breathing can do.

Once we feel the breath moving in and out, we can tune in to how our body is feeling, as well. Our heart may be fluttering with anxiousness about an upcoming event; our muscles tense, our brow furrowing or jaw clenching without our being aware of it. Our posture, too, can elevate us or drain our energy.

In addition to practicing being present, we can be open and willing to make some gentle changes in our response to everything life throws at us. We have all grown accustomed to our “need it now” culture, and just as we are used to getting things in the blink of an eye, like downloading a song, we also feel like we should respond to everything life is throwing at us immediately, if not sooner.

Try turning off the phone at night an hour before bed. Choose to respond to emails when it is convenient. Take a break from social media for a week and dedicate that time to reading a book instead. Do at least one thing every day that we absolutely love, like cooking a meal, taking a bath, listening to music or watching our favorite sitcom, and allow ourselves to be fully present in each moment.

Make a decision every morning to go out into the world with a compassionate heart, knowing that each time we are challenged throughout our day it is just a tool for us to take the reins of our own sense of inner peace and calm. Remember that stress is always surrounding us, but it is in how we choose to deal with it that determines its effect on us.

Julie Lemerond is the general manager at A Mindfulness Life Center, in Scottsdale. For more information, contact 480-207-6016 or visit

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