Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment. This means taking notice of sights, sounds, smells, thoughts and feelings, and appreciating all that is in front of you.
Being present allows us to take in the now. It helps to reduce fears and anxieties about things that have not happened yet and may never happen. It also keeps us from wishing things had been different. We can’t change the past or predict the future; we only have the present.
Wes Sedlacek, Chaplain Services manager for Samaritan Albany General Hospital and Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital, suggests the following actions to keep your mind in the present:
- Notice details. Focus on a pattern in the wood, count the petals on a flower or look at the back of your hand. What do you see?
- Close your eyes and listen. What can you hear? Birds? People talking? Your heartbeat?
- Walk slowly. Take a few steps and focus on your body as it moves. Do you feel the pressure of your weight on the ground? What does the ground feel like? What is around you?
- Breathe. Close your eyes or stare at a wall while you slowly take deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Feel the air enter your lungs and notice how your chest expands. Make a point of fully emptying your lungs and slowly forcing all the air out. Repeat several times.
- Give thanks. Being grateful for even the small things changes our perspective.
“Being present is truly a gift,” said Sedlacek. “Looking forward or backward can cause us to miss seeing what is right next to us and create unnecessary stress.”