Pockets of Presence

Jennifer MitchellAnxiety, Jennifer Mitchell

I find it hard to be present and just breathe in life. I am sure this is a common experience amongst busy working people, balancing commitments, family, friends, fun, children and work.

My colleague recently wrote about being present (click here for that blog) and I felt moved to share how I stay present in life.

Like many of you, I work at balancing the many components in my life! For me, this includes balancing working, completing my PhD and my volunteer commitments. Then, of course there are family, friends and pets! The point is, I often have to force myself to find pockets of presence – that is, moments when I am 100% and completely in the moment.  This means not worrying about deadlines or commitments or cleaning – it means leaving all those thoughts at the door for brief moments. Often people think they have to commit to an hour of yoga or meditation to practice being mindfully present.  However, even a few minutes a day can have an impact on stress levels, anxiety and it is often easier to carve out a few minutes in your day.

These are my favorite ways to find a tiny piece of mindful presence during my week. None of these are overly hard to do, nor do I make claims they are my unique ideas. These are mini breaks and can take anywhere from 7 seconds to a half hour:

  1. Essential oils – I recently bought an essential oil diffuser necklace. When I know I’m going to have a busy day, I put it on and find 7 to 10 seconds to simply breathe in the scent. I may pair it with a quick visualization of the ocean or of the mountains.
  2. Step outside! But do so with mindful intent to breathe in the air, enjoy the wind or sun on your face! Perhaps do a bit of stretching and enjoy the air on your body.
  3. Buy yourself some flowers! Yeah, it’s easy to talk yourself out of doing it – they cost money or they won’t last or your time and money is better spent somewhere else. The point is – we deserve something beautiful every now and again. Breathe in the scent – admire the colors and focus only on those sensations for a few moments. You’ll be surprised at the tiny leap of joy in your heart when you see them.
  4. Breathe – okay, okay, we’ve all heard this one before. However, we have true power in our breath. With breath we can wake up or slow down the body. Intentional breathing can done by itself or  be paired with visualization or progressive muscle relaxation.
  5. Doggy therapy – I sit on the floor and cuddle, snuggle or play with the dogs and truly enjoy them – their smell, their mannerisms, and their complete ability to live in the present! If pets aren’t your thing – that is fine – take a break and just engage in an activity that fills you with joy.
  6. Put the phone or other electronic devices down for a set time each day. This may be over dinner or when you are going for a walk. We cannot be truly present in the moment or with whoever we are with if we are checking our devices.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with the busy-ness of your life and want to learn ways to be more present and mindful, let us know and we can work with you to find ways to carve out time for yourself.