[Day 6] Be Present

You’ve heard many times before how important it is to live in the present moment.  You may have heard people say, “We only have today.  Don’t live for tomorrow.” Or “Don’t get caught up in the past or future- live for now!”

All of these messages remind us that it’s important to live in the present but how do we do this?  Our technology driven lives have resulted in more demands, hectic schedules and the constant feeling of drowning while trying to keep up.  This has resulted in a new norm of feeling exhausted, anxious, unhappy and stressed.

The remedy to this is to be more present.  This means to be more aware of the “here and now”. We’re not worried about our past or thinking about what we need to do for the future.  All of our attention is focused on now.

In one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books, he mentions that in Buddhism, their effort is to practice mindfulness in each moment “to know what is going on within and all around us”.  When a monk was asked how monks practice this, he replied, “We sit, we walk, we eat.  The questioner continued, “But sir, everyone sits, walks, and eats,” and the Buddha told him, “When we sit, we know we are sitting.  When we walk, we know we are walking.  When we eat, we know we are eating.” He also says, “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.  When our mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

The practice of stopping and being present

  • Be grateful for what you have now.
  • Notice your surroundings.  Notice the blue sky, the birds chirping, the wind blowing the clouds.
  • Focus on one thing at a time.  Don’t multi-task.
  • Practice a mindful meditation.
  • A meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh:
    • Breathing in, I calm my body.
    • Breathing out, I smile.
    • Dwelling in the present moment.
    • I know this is a wonderful moment.
  • Spend time with people who make you happy and laugh.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises.  Use your breath to find stillness.  Pay attention to your breath’s rhythm.  Aim for slow and deep breaths.  Put your hand on your belly:  you should feel your belly rise as you take a deep breath in, and fall as you let it out.
  • Exercise.  Even 5 minutes of exercise, like a brisk walk or dancing at home, can start to calm your mind.  It releases endorphins, chemicals that make you feel better and can improve your mood and focus.
  • Go outdoors.  Go on a walk.  Feel the fresh air against your skin.  Feel the warmth of the sun on your face.  Getting outdoors can lift your mood and change your state to help you slow down your mind.

To fully be present in the here and now is to be fully alive.  As Eckhart Tolle says, “You can’t think about presence, and the mind can’t understand it.  Understanding presence is being present.

Ready to defeat burnout…

…and renew your passion and love for medicine?

Do you feel paralyzed by feelings of desperation and aren’t sure how you can keep going if things don’t change?

Has your relentless schedule and the high stress demands of your job changed you into someone you no longer recognize?

Have you lost your passion and love for medicine?

If so, I want you to know that there’s a way to manage it all AND feel better without sacrificing your needs or your relationships with your loved ones.


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