Jon Kabat-Zinn has been coined the founder of modern mindfulness. He actually has a center and program with which he shares this information as it relates to health and well-being. It is a dream of mine to go to Massachusetts and study in one of his programs.

To me, mindfulness means being fully present in the moment. It means not worrying about the past or planning the future. It means being focused and concentrated in the here and now. Now, how wonderful would that be if as nurses we could work in that way all of the time?!

Because of the nature of our work as nurses, we may feel forced to multi-task. (Multi-tasking is an article of its own, so I won’t spend time on that right now). We are placed into situations where we have to work fast, efficiently, and hurriedly to get many things done at the same time. How great would it be if we were able to more easily focus on the task at hand? To be fully present with each patient as we were in the space with them?

Well, mindfulness is a great tool to use to enhance your health. There are so many ways that you can practice and experience this technique. Here are some that Kabat-Zinn and others recommend:

• Mindful eating: Instead of rushing through a meal, standing up, while looking at the TV… try eating slowly. Try eating in quiet. Try breathing. Put the utensil down in between bites. Chew the food slowly and completely. Minimize and, if possible, avoid all distractions. I heard something that I thought was just fantastic in my Integrative Nutrition coaching coursework: turn off the TV, radio, and internet while eating… why? Well, because our mental mind chatter that is constantly going is a radio of its own! Why add even more noise with electronic devices?
• Mindful housework: You can practice mindfulness in any chore you have to do. When washing the dishes, be present. Fully feel yourself washing the dish. Notice the water. How does it feel on your skin? What is the temperature like? What smells do you notice? Really be involved in the task at hand… whatever it is or however small it may seem.
• Mindful walking: Go for a walk and really be present with it. Feel each muscle in your body. Experience your foot hitting the earth beneath you. Can you focus so much that you notice your brain telling your muscles to move? Don’t just walk automatically; really move your body and notice yourself willing your legs, feet, and muscles to walk you forward. Observe your arm swing. Don’t just let it happen. See how your arms move in line with your movements. Really be present with each step.
• Mindful listening: Participate in a conversation where you just listen. Don’t plan your response. Don’t be reacting to what they are saying. Don’t be thinking about what else you have to do during your day. Just sit and listen and be mindful of your reactions. Observe what comes up for you. Focus on your breath. Be with the other person as you let them speak. Just receive the information and be mindful of being quiet.

In being mindful we are engaging in a practice of being fully involved in the present moment. Being in the here and now is so healthy and beneficial for our well-being. Why? Well, because when we live in the moment we can let go of the past. We can stop worrying about what is already over and cannot get back.

Even further, we can stop obsessing over our future. We can stop fearing or controlling what has not yet happened. The future will happen as it is meant to evolve. Being in the present moment we can enjoy and experience… which will enhance our health and overall well-being.

How about you? In what ways have you practiced mindfulness before? How has it helped? Can you think of a situation in which you were fully present? What other techniques do you practice in the here and now?

Author's Bio: 

Elizabeth “Coach” Scala, MSN/MBA, RN is passionate about helping healthcare professionals, nurses in particular, to embody holistic living and embrace self-care. Through her business, Living Sublime Wellness, she writes regularly on the topic of self-care, conducts wellness workshops, and offers both in-person and online seminars for busy nurses.
Elizabeth is a Certified Health and Wellness Coach and holds Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and Master’s degrees in both Business and Nursing. Originally from Carmel, NY, she now lives in Baltimore, MD with her husband and two dogs. Visit www.livingsublimewellness.com for more information.