In A Walk to Remember, Landon shows Jamie a painless way to be in two places at once. In reality, many of us experience this dynamic without straddling a state line: our minds draw us away from the present moment. Maybe it’s not so stressful when we daydream while driving, but it could be dangerous. And our bodies and behavior may change in uncomfortable ways when anxiety directs our awareness to the future, or when regret focuses our awareness on the past.
What can help us focus awareness in the present moment – so we can be in one place at one time? We can practice mindfulness – the state of being fully present in the moment in which we live. Below is an exercise I learned as a mental health intern. It has helped me and some clients recognize that the present moment can be a safe place. I’ll write it as I do it. It’s all about focusing on the answers to three questions:
- What 5 things do I see in this room?
- A Green Cheeked Conure
- A laptop
- A tribute to my deceased Bedlington Terrier
- A Staple’s bag
- A library book bag
- With eyes closed, what 5 things do I feel?
- The comfort of jeans with spandex
- The weight of my watch
- The pressure of my left palm on my laptop
- The softness of carpet on bare feet
- The crispness of my shirt
- With eyes closed, what 5 things do I hear?
- The refrigerator’s hum
- My Coonhound whining
- Family talking
- Outside evening noises
- Ding of the microwave
Nothing magical has happened as a result of completing this exercise, but my awareness was engaged in the present moment – not engaged in worries. What helps you to be fully present in the moment in which you live?