Not many people are mindful at any given moment. When we're doing something we love, it's very easy to be mindful and notice every detail of our activity as it happens. We don't really continue experiencing the present like this during mundane tasks and other moments though, and especially not during moments of anxiety, when it feels like living in the present will surely torture/kill us!!!
Many of the "steps" of mindfulness would be to simply recognize everything you've just stated for this scenario (waves of anxiety, perspiration, etc.). If your speech is weak/choppy, notice it as it happens, and notice when it stops happening (even if that's not until you stop talking). Continue noticing in the present, and if you're mindful, you'll notice at some point later on (when you stop being mindful) how you were not thinking about perceived social failures of the past or predicted social failure in the future during your time of mindfulness. Being mindful for a long time is very difficult for me still, but I'm getting better with practice (although slowly, haha). I still have a long way to go in practicing mindfulness, but the rewards are immense, in the sense that irritation/anxiety symptoms are lacking.
I'll share Thich Nhat Hahn's example of washing dishes, which comes from his mindfulness book. He doesn't resort to bizarre riddles with this example at all.
Most people who wash dishes by hand are washing dishes so that they can go watch TV, or go play a game, or go to the grocery, etc. In other words, while they are thinking about what they need/want to do next, they don't notice they're washing dishes, much like how we often don't notice we're even breathing! It's not often that people wash dishes to
wash dishes. This would be to notice every aspect of what it's like to wash dishes, which takes ALL of your concentration. Seeing soap bubbles as they float and pop, feeling warm water on your skin, noticing the color of the water as it changes, listening to the sounds of the water as it splashes, the smell of the soap, etc.
I wash my dishes by hand, and I often practice mindfulness during this time (since I found myself hating doing dishes, I thought it would be perfect, especially after reading about this example).
The same principle applies for other situations. Just notice as much as possible in the present. That's all being mindful is.
I put "steps" in quotations in the second paragraph of this post since mindfulness isn't ultimately a step-by-step approach, or at least I don't necessarily see it that way. If we're thinking
too much about what steps to take to be mindful of the present, we're not aware of the present moment, but rather stuck in our thoughts of what steps to take, in what order, how long to be at each step, whether we're "doing it right", etc. We don't really need to be conceptualizing at all in order to just experience the present as it is, completely.
Mindfulness is such a simple thing that it makes it hard to elaborate on. There are only so many ways to say the same thing. Noticing your breathing is commonly referred to because it's something we have conscious control over it when we notice it. When we don't notice it, it just seemingly happens "by itself" without our conscious knowledge. For the vast majority of the day, I and probably most other people don't even notice we're breathing. If I find myself hit with a boatload of anxiety all at once, I often will notice my breathing as well as my anxiety, surroundings (your projecting outward technique is like this), and any other sensations (not trying to push away anything, just noticing it all).
By noticing our present experiences and immediate surroundings, it becomes impossible to ruminate/worry since we're too busy noticing "right now," which really takes all our concentration. It might take practice to be effectively mindful for significant amounts of time as well. There are situations in which I still find it difficult to be mindful. From what I've read, continual practice helps with this.
For me, mindfulness makes symptoms of anxiety become like a feisty kitten
rather than a ferocious tiger
. The kitten might still bite and claw us, and even draw blood at times, but it's almost cute even when this happens (ok, bear with the analogy if you hate cats, haha). When I'm mindful, I'm not afraid of anxiety symptoms since the symptoms are not fuelled by thoughts that take me out of the present moment. Without these thoughts, the kitten remains a kitten and doesn't get any scarier.
Hopefully at least some of this is helpful to anyone reading it.