In my private practice, I do a lot of skill building with my clients and I find myself reminding them that the skills are simple concepts, but can be difficult to put into practice. These are skills that everyone, including myself, need to learn and actively use. The skill I most frequently teach my clients is how to be present in the moment. You can call it being grounded, being mindful, looking outward. Seems simple, right? Think about the last time you drove home from work or your child’s school. Can you specifically remember the ride or did you just find you were back at home? Were you busy, being in your head, thinking about what happened during the day or what you were going to make for dinner? This is NOT being present.  Being present works by focusing outward on the world. The work is in the ability to center your mind and your focus on what is happening in the moment. Using all 5 of your senses to keep yourself focused on the here and now and out of your head thinking about the past and the future, things we are not able to control.  Being grounded allows you to identify if you are becoming stressed, or anxious and to catch when life is out of balance. People will often say they feel overwhelmed or anxious and that these feelings “came out of nowhere”. One of he benefits of being present is the ability to catch these feelings, identify the self-talk which might fuel these feelings and make a change in your behavior.

Being present, centering, looking outward is a “simple” concept that requires active work on a daily basis. I usually encourage my clients to check in with themselves every hour. Ask yourself, “Where has my mind been? What do I taste, touch, smell, see, hear? Where should my focus be right now?” Like any new skill, the more you practice, the more quickly the skill becomes habit.  A simple, but challenging grounding exercise based on the 100 breaths technique.  You take 100 breaths, you count them and you try to not think about anything else but the breath. 

Probably one of the biggest challenges of being a psychologist is learning to practice what I teach. Being present is skill that requires my constant attention. Even when life is going well, I actively remind myself to be in the moment and enjoy.  Today, I had my Dailey Method socks as a reminder (