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January 20, 2016

Living in the Present Moment

For many of us, one of the most underused resources we have available in our “coping toolbox” is the ability to “live in the present moment.” Choosing to “live in the present moment” means attention to the “here and now” where we can fully appreciate our surroundings and reflect on the feelings and emotions that a particular experience brings to us. It is being “mindful” of our own unique place, time and space in a much larger universe.

Taking a personal audit of where our attention is directed can be helpful in facilitating a more balanced lifestyle and outlook. Three questions you might ask yourself during this audit are:

1. How much time do I spend thinking (worrying) about and/or trying to predict the future?

2. How much time do I fret, regret or reminisce about the good old days or on past shortcomings, mistakes or missed opportunities?

3. How much time do I stay “present focused” on what I am doing and feeling right now?

Some helpful ways to stay present focused may include: simply paying attention to your breathing and posture. Tuning in such sensory areas as smell, texture, colors and sounds around you can help. Sometimes engaging in positive self-talk, performing meaningful tasks for others or participating in healthy, invigorating exercise activities may provide added value. Some people find caring for their pet, tending to a garden or participating in activities requiring mental focus (e.g. Sudoku) useful. Practicing meditation and other healing arts can be very effective “present” oriented strategies as well.

At Hopewell, our community oriented work and nature-based programming are valuable adjuncts to other more clinically focused interventions that we offer. These include medication management, psychotherapy, specialized group treatment and an interactive therapeutic milieu. All are designed to help our residents learn to more fully utilize their own “toolbox.” In doing so, these methods can serve as a means to inwardly balance tendencies to overly rehearse for the future and or dwell on the past in order to attend to and embrace the present moment—perhaps a good lesson for all of us!

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