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Mindfulness: Finding presence in the present

23 June 2021
woman sitting on bench atop mountain
Image: Sage Friedman

As the world constantly changes in unexpected ways, we may find ourselves caught up in thoughts of the future. We may be uncertain, hesitant, or even a little lost. The practice of mindfulness can give us a gentle reprieve from our worries and instead focus our attention back into the present, where we can fully appreciate the small moments.

Mindfulness finds its roots in Buddhist meditation techniques. When we bring our awareness to the present moment, we experience several mental and physical benefits such as relief from stress, lower blood pressure, and even improved sleep. As we peacefully accept our current thoughts and feelings, both physical and emotional, we can reach a sense of ease – a safe space that does not dwell on the past or an imagined future.

Take a moment from your busy life to read through some ways you can introduce mindfulness to your every day and achieve some calm amidst the noise.

Take time to breathe

When was the last time you took a deep breath? Maybe it was this morning, last week, or perhaps you can’t remember.

Try taking a deep breath now. As you do, notice how it makes you feel. Deep breaths send a message to our brain to relax, reducing tension in the body. There are many ways to practise deep breathing, whether you find a guided meditation, partake in belly breathing, or practice paced breathing.

Observe your surroundings

Sometimes, we can find ourselves lost in thought and missing the small details. Observing the things around us is an effective way to bring our mind back to the present moment.

As an exercise, try engaging all five senses. Go through each step purposefully: find five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell, and finally, one thing you can taste. This activity can bring awareness to your body and your surroundings, no matter where you are.

Practice gentle movement

Whether it’s a slow walk in nature, a soothing stretch, a dance around the house, or a peaceful yoga flow, light exercise with a focus on breath or physical sensation can refresh and re-centre our mind and body.

rock on beach with water flowing around it
Image: Daniel Gaffey

Express gratitude and reflect – When practising mindfulness, remember to check in on yourself mentally to acknowledge emotions and worries. How do you feel right now? What is making you happy? What is currently draining your energy?

When we allow space to reflect and understand our feelings, we can release held stress we may not have even been aware we had. Likewise, expressing gratitude is proven to be associated with happiness, improved health, and strong relationships.

Try expressing or writing down what you are grateful for today.

Remove distractions – Sometimes, mindfulness can be as simple as focusing on one thing at a time. Have a go at ditching digital distractions and multi-tasking, two things that can actually cause us to perform worse, and instead accomplish tasks with singular, uninterrupted focus. Aside from focusing on work, try a calming activity like reading or painting.

If you’re now feeling inspired, perhaps put aside some time for yourself in the coming days to practice one or more of these tips. We hope you discover some peace and clarity in the fulfilling benefits of mindfulness.