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Mindfulness: Embracing the Moment

Veteran Colby practices mindfulness. He stands with his back to the camera in front of a labyrinth, outside the Los Angels VAMC.

Veteran Colby practices mindfulness. One way he has learned to live in the moment is by walking through a labyrinth.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Do you live in the moment?

For Army Veteran Colby living in the moment — a practice called “mindfulness” — is essential for his health and well-being. But this didn’t come naturally for him.

“We get around, and we don’t just step back and take a look at what’s really going on around us,” Colby says. “We’re just kind of caught up in the day-to-day activities.”

After returning from service in 2008, Colby had trouble transitioning back into civilian life. Struggling to deal with his racing thoughts, he turned to alcohol. “Drinking was pretty much my No. 1 coping mechanism,” he says. “It just got really bad, to the point where I needed help.”

To get the help he needed, Colby turned to his local VA facility: the Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. Through spirituality programs and therapy sessions — both one-on-one and as part of groups — he has been able to practice techniques that allow him to be more present in everyday life.

With his ability to live with mindful awareness improving, Colby now has time to consider what matters most to him in greater depth. “My wife [and I] are getting along a lot better,” he says. “I can enjoy the little things with my children. That’s probably the most important thing.”

Colby is one of many who have seen positive results by focusing on mindfulness. In fact, the VA Quality Enhancement Research Initiative’s Evidence-based Synthesis Program (ESP) has developed an evidence map of mindfulness to show the amount of literature on various mindfulness techniques and their effectiveness for treating many medical conditions.

Take a moment to read ESP’s evidence map of mindfulness, and explore how living in the moment can improve health and well-being in quantifiable ways. Watch this brief video, “What Is Mindfulness,” to learn more about this powerful practice, and download the mindfulness audio podcasts to begin your own practice.


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