Drop your stress. Take A Pause in the present.


(Free guided meditation below).

So it’s been 2018 for almost a week now. I can already feel the pace starting to pick up as I return to work at Duke and we get ready for our students to return. There is fun and excitement for the students as they come back to campus, but also the return of pressure and worries.

For most of us whether we work or go to school or both, being busy is inevitable. Fortunately, being stressed out and overwhelmed doesn’t have to be; you can always find respite from the swirl of life by taking respite in the present moment.

That may sound corny, but it turns out to be true. When you really drop into the present by focusing your attention on your body sensations, you naturally let go of all your worries, regrets and plans. And for that brief period, you are giving your poor nervous system a much-needed break.

When it feels like life is rushing by, and I catch myself lost in too much busy-ness, I like to just stop for a few minutes. Take a pause. Catch my breath. Remember what is really happening to me right here, right now.

January, the start of a new year, is traditionally a time we view as a fresh-start. Really though, this is true of every day. Of every moment, even. At any moment we can pause, let go of worries and regrets, and just see where we are in this moment. And then step into the newness of whatever life has to offer.

Use this free guided meditation to take a pause.

In honor of the newness of the year, this could be a good time to take one of those pauses. I particularly enjoy my pauses if I get to go outside for the full effect. So if you can, head outside, and then follow these instructions or listen to our free guided meditation.

  1. Go outside.
  2. Sit, lay, or stand comfortably
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Take 3 slow deep breaths, then let your breathing be normal and natural.
  5. Turn your attention to the sounds around or within you. Name silently to yourself 5 sounds that you hear.
  6. Turn your attention to the physical sensations you can feel in or on your body. For example you might feel the rumble of your tummy, the breeze on your face, the touch of your shirt on your shoulders. Name silently to yourself 5 sensations you feel.
  7. Turn your attention what your nose can detect. Can you identify any odors?
  8. Turn your attention to your mouth. Can you identify any tastes?
  9. Open your eyes. Name silently to yourself 5 things you can see.
  10. Call to mind something you are grateful for in your life.
  11. Take one more slow, deep breath.

Having made contact with the present moment and what it holds for you, you can now move into the rest of your day. As best you can, carry the awareness you brought to these few minutes with you as you move on to your next activity.

Did you do it? Did you take a pause? Tell us where you went for your pause and what you noticed! .

Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash

Get our latest articles in your inbox.


The Mindful Twenty Something by Holly Rogers
“Wise, but not obscure. Practical, but lighthearted and inspiring.”

— MIRABAI BUSH, co-founder and Senior Fellow of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society

Learn more about the book