In this day and age, we frequently operate on autopilot, we are conditioned to be thinking about planning ahead to tomorrow or dwelling on what happened yesterday. We rarely recognize the present moment and what is happening now. As you read this, I encourage you to take a moment and pay attention to what is happening around you NOW. Is it completely silent where you are at or are there sounds you hear? What does this paper feel like in your hand? Look around to the space you are in, really LOOK, do you see something in the room that you never noticed before? Take a deep breath, what are the smells in the air? As you inhaled that deep breath, did you notice a cool intake of air and maybe tasted the remnants of the coffee you drank earlier or the toothpaste you used this morning? Being mindful of these sensory experiences is a part of how we recognize the NOW.
Experiencing the present moment is a practice called ‘Mindfulness’. Scientific research* shows that incorporating a daily practice of mindfulness, as little as 10 minutes a day, can demonstrate positive physiological changes in the brain centers that regulate mood and decrease the level of stress hormones released. There are many free apps available for you to download to your phone that allow you to learn and practice this skill to reap the benefits. Three highly rated apps are Insight Timer, Calm, and Headspace. Keep in mind, practicing mindfulness is a skill, so you need the repetition of practice in order to strengthen your mental muscle. *https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/
By Penny McGrath MA, LCPC