Sometimes, when life is getting too much, or if we feel like we are losing control of our behaviour, it is time to stop and breathe.
In that situation where you feel your emotions escalating, or if you have lots of noise in your mind this is a tool you can deploy to give yourself some clarity.
What is it?
The time check tool is a simple little mindfulness exercise that can be used by anyone, any time, any place.
If I wake up and find that I have a lot whirring around my mind, I use this tool first thing in the morning to create a calm mindset where I can then effectively prioritise and focus.
You see, the human mind is much like a lake.
When we engage with, and begin to feel strong emotions, it creates waves within the lake of our mind. This means that our perspective of both ourselves and the world around us can become distorted.
A tranquil mind is clear and reflective. It provides us with the opportunity to have an honest view of reality and to use its reflective surface to radiate our positive energy out in to the world. We can move forwards and take action with focus.
Emotions are a response to a stimulus. When a stimulus is perceived by the mind, the biological systems within our bodies take action to elicit a response. They key word here is “perceived”.
Human perception is a tricky beast
We are often not aware that our perception stretches outside of the present moment. This means the human mind can fabricate a very real perception of a stimulus which either occurred in the past or may occur in the future. Examples of this are people feeling regret about some past behaviour, or feeling anxious about a job interview that is coming up in the future.
Humans are experts at learning from the past and strategizing for the future. This is behaviour at the core of the success of our species. It is these very same processes which if left unchecked, can create turbulence in our mind and prevent us taking effective action.
The key is to shift our perception to the present moment.
How does it work?
All you simply need is two questions and one deep breath…
- What time is it?
- Where am I?
- And breathe…
Question one: What time is it?
Erm… 16:09. And when is that? Erm… The 10th of February. And when is that? Erm… 2021. And when is that? Erm…
The only logical answer to this question is Now. The time is now.
Question two, where am I?
Erm… In my office. And where is that? Erm… In my house. And where is that? Erm… Huddersfield. And where is that? Erm… The UK. And where is that? … On planet Earth. And where is that? In the Milky way. And where is that? …
You get the point. If you keep asking the question, eventually your perception will expand to the entire universe; and if you can answer that question, then please do enlighten me!
The only logical answer to this question is Here. You are here.
Realise: The time is now and you are here.
Take a slow, long deep breath in, feeling the air filling your lungs, pause then breathe out; out noticing the sensation of your chest gently falling under the weight of gravity as the air gently leaves your nose and mouth.
These two questions slice our perception like a razor, and the deep breathing centres our focus to our physical body. A body which exists only in the present moment.
As our perception shifts, the emotional stimuli of the past and present and as such, our emotions and the noise in our mind are removed. The lake in our mind is calmed.
Benefits and Practical Applications
This is a brilliant tool to regain your conscious state of mind and recentre yourself back in the present moment. You can use it to calm your self before important meetings which are generating feelings of stress or anxiety.
I myself love to do this as I look out my window observing the trees in a morning. As I breathe, I look at the vibrant green colours of the trees and consider the life which is growing all around me in the natural ecosystem which I am part of.
I do also love to do this when I am out on a walk alone. There was one particular occasion where some other walkers observed what I was doing, and I have to say I did get some strange looks!…
After considering the time and my location, I took a deep breath and looked around… I noticed some fluffy bright green moss on a wall… it looks so soft and gentle like the most luscious carpet you have ever seen. I walked over and gave it a good sniff, then rubbed it with my hand… it was super soft… I bent down and started rubbing my cheek on it… man it felt nice on my skin….
At that point I opened my eyes and saw an older couple watching me with a perplexed look on their face. I responded with a beaming smile and commented on how nice and soft the moss was!
I wished them a good morning and trundled off merrily on my way.
Life is truly beautiful when we stop and actually look.
I offer this insight to you to use this tactic to create tranquillity in your mind and free yourself from the turbulence of false perception.
Use it to open your eyes and see beauty right in front of you.