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Learning To Stay Present

Written by QCMHA member, Caroline Pennock

As part of my New Year’s resolution, I have decided to pour my efforts into staying present, something that I have been struggling to do throughout the entirety of the pandemic. For so long, I only thought about all the negative that was ahead of me; no exchange abroad, no gathering with friends outside my bubble, no in person classes, another summer of working from home, to name a few. This mindset sent me spiraling, feeling like I had nothing to look forward to, which really started to weigh on me over the Christmas break. I didn’t want to come back to school, what was the point? Why go back to school to sit in my room all day when I am going to do the same thing at home? At home, I wouldn’t even have to cook my own food.

After long conversations with friends, who felt similar to me, I decided the best way to tackle this feeling was to really work on staying in the moment and look for the good in each day. Something that is so simple but so important, and yet it’s a concept so many people have forgotten about. While this sounds extremely cliché, the first month of actively trying out this new way of thinking has made things I used to worry about seem more manageable. I have found that I have enjoyed the little things, even just sitting with my friends in their rooms and appreciating their company during times like this. It also made me focus less on the perceived negativity that was in front of me. I started to think less thoughts like “is this lifestyle ever going to end?” and more like “it’s so nice that the sun is out today, maybe I should go for a walk.” To me, a big part of being present was about shifting my perspective in order to keep me more motivated and in a positive mindset.

Something I have found helpful as a reminder to stay in the moment is doing breathing exercises and trying out meditation. I had meditated every once in a while, at the odd yoga class here and there, but I had never really put much effort into it. The first time I sat alone to try meditating, I was surprised at my experience. I found that when I really concentrated on my breathing, I stopped thinking about what was making me anxious or even random thoughts like what I had for breakfast that day. All of my brain power was focused solely on my breath, which made it difficult for those random thoughts to break through. Breathing is something you quite literally have to do, so when a random thought pop ups, the next breath you inhale is a reminder to ground yourself in that very moment. All of a sudden, I had just found the best way to push away thoughts I didn’t want to bother me, and it was as easy as concentrating on something I always do – breathing. While I am still very much in the beginner stages of meditation and breath work, I’m so excited to continue on this path towards being more mindful and hope that my journey inspires yours.

I want to end my post with a quote on being present that really resonated with me. It goes as follows: “Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others.” ― Charlotte Eriksson

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