Mindfulness On Call

During a time of crisis, when we are under acute stress, practicing mindfulness can be very helpful for regulating our moods and can have positive effects on our emotional and physical health. When we practice mindfulness, we strengthen our ability to be aware of, observing, and not judging the present moment.

This series of videos introduces and demonstrates easy ways to integrate brief mindful exercises into our daily acitivities presented through different categories that can fill different needs during this period of crisis.

The mindfulness meditations section includes brief traditional meditations that can be done at the start or end of your day, or during a transition of your day, Guiding you through the experience of noticing your thoughts come up and pass, and teach skills to calm your body and mind.

The mindful behaviors include activities that you do all the time, such as eating or walking, and show you how to do these activities in a mindful way.

The noting exercises and the mindful time outs, like mindful behaviors, are opportunities to integrate mindfulness into the moments that come up normally during daily life.

The mindful first aid section includes techniques you can use “in a pinch” – to manage acute anxiety or stress, and to feel better quickly.

If you have questions, or would like to learn more, please contact us:

Susan Evans, PhD sue2002@med.cornell.edu

Janna Gordon-Elliott, MD jsg2005@med.cornell.edu


Mindfulness On Call Introduction

Mindfulness On Call | Introduction | Weill Cornell Medicine

Mindfulness On Call Intro Transcript

We’ve come up with a series of videos reviewing short mindfulness exercises that can be done on the run, or in the course of your daily routine. During this very stressful time, when it can sometimes like there is no time to eat or even think, we hope you can find a few moments during your day to try out some mindfulness on call.

Why mindfulness, and why mindfulness NOW?

Why mindfulness? When we practice mindfulness, we learn how to pause and notice our experiences, and we regulate our nervous system.
Why mindfulness now? Well, right now, our minds and bodies are being stressed beyond their capacities. During the work day, our thoughts are focused on the most critical issues, hardest decisions, or most difficult feelings. In addition to that, we are coping with the constant information and emotional stress related to living in the world during a pandemic. Our sympathetic nervous system --that’s the fight, flight or freeze system --is overactivated, making us feel anxious, maybe unable to sleep, and more emotional. We may feel like our minds are racing. We might sometimes feel panicked. 
If we can implement brief mindfulness exercises, we train ourselves to PAUSE. During this pause, we focus and our racing minds settle down. During this pause, we also turn on our parasympathetic nervous system which is a brake against the fight or flight system, so our body also settles down. These short moments of pause help us briefly recover fromthe constant physical and mental stress so we can keep going.
Lastly, and this is maybe a bonus, during that pause, we get the chance to have distance from our thoughts and sensations --a little perspective, and sometimes a chance to respond differently.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Victor Frankel.

Mindfulness Meditations

Loving Kindness Meditation

Mindfulness | Loving Kindness Meditation | Weill Cornell Medicine

3 Minute Breathing Space

Mindfulness | 3 Minute Breathing Space | Weill Cornell Medicine

Awareness of Breath

Mindfulness | Awareness of Breath Meditation | Weill Cornell Medicine

Mindful Behaviors

Mindful Stretching Exercise

Mindful Walking

Mindful Walking Exercise | Weill Cornell Medicine

Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating | Weill Cornell Medicine

Noting Exercises

Noting Introduction

Noting Introduction | Weill Cornell Medicine

Noting Introduction Transcript

Noting exercises are planned brief mindful moments that you integrate into our daily activities.They are a great way of helping us train that muscle of learning to PAUSE and settle down our minds and bodies. The more we do them in a planned way, the more we will start to create little pauses for ourselves automatically.
These are important because they can help us interrupt unhelpful thoughts and feelings, and they also activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which puts a brake on the constant sympathetic nervous system activation (the “fight or flight” system) that we are experiencing during times of crisis. 
How do you do you do a noting exercise? 
Pick a daily experience that you know you will encounter a few times a day or more --such as walking up or down the stairs, sitting down to write a note, washing your hands, gathering your team for rounds. Every time you encounter that experience, spend about 15-30 doing a noting exercise. Here are some examples.
  1. Noting breaths
  2. Noting your hand
  3. Noting during hand-washing
Try doing one of these noting exercises for 15-30 seconds).
  1. Noting your breaths. Give yourself a few seconds to experience your breaths going in and out of your body. Try inhaling through your nose, exhaling through your mouth. Try exhaling longer than your inhale. Where do you feel your breath most? In your nostrils, as it enters and leaves your body? In your chest, as your lungs expand and contract? In your abdomen, as your belly rises and falls? What does the breath feel like? What does it look like? As the air rushes out, what else leaves with it -negative energy, heaviness, stress?
  2. Noting your hand. Try to observe it as if looking at it for the first time. What do you see? What does it feel like? Is it heavy or light? Cold or warm? Tingling or numb?
  3. Noting during hand-washing. Take in the experience. Look at the sink. Feel the faucet, if there is one, as you turn on the water. What is the water temperature like? Whatdo your hands feel like during that first second when the water hits them? Do they feel comfortable, immersed, and safe? What does the soap feel like? What does the lather look like and smell like? What do you hear? What different sensations can you feel as you move your hands together noticing the different sensations of the palms, the backs of the hands, the fingers, knuckles, nails. As you dry your hands, what do you notice?

Noting Your Breaths

Noting Breaths | Weill Cornell Medicine

Noting Your Hand

Nothing Hand | Weill Cornell Medicine

Noting Handwashing

Nothing Handwashing | Weill Cornell Medicine

Mindful Time Outs

Mindful Time Out

Mindful Time Out | Weill Cornell Medicine

Mindful Time Out Transcript

Mindful Time Outs

Some days we don’t even feel that we have a minute to spare. During a crisis, this is common, but it’s also essential that we find moments of mental and physical recovery so we can stay in the game for the long haul. Fortunately, you don’t have to meditate to get some of the benefits of mindfulness. Even a second of being mindful gives you a little pause, and also puts a brake on the sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight” system).

What are mindful time outs?

Pick a few moments of the day with some importance. Maybe it’s when you enter the hospital, or when you gown up for the first time of the day, or when you gather your team for rounds, or when you log into the Infonet or Zoom for your daily update from leadership. When one of those moments arises, just for a second, take a breath -be aware that you’re taking a breath. Maybe look up, or just close your eyes for a fraction of a second, to mark that breath. Maybe have a word that you will say in your head --“pause”, “space”, “here”, “breathe”. Then move on. If you want, try doing this with a teammate. Being in sync with another person has a calming effect on our nervous system.

Mindful First Aid

Grounding Introduction

Grounding Introduction | Weill Cornell Medicine

Grounding: Five Finger Breathing

Grounding Five Finger Breathing | Weill Cornell Medicine

Grounding Feet

Grounding Feet | Weill Cornell Medicine

Grounding: Describing Objects

Grounding Describing Objects | Weill Cornel Medicine

Vagus Nerve Hacks

Vagus Nerve Hacks | Weill Cornell Medicine

Vagus Nerve Hacks Transcript

Vagus Nerve Hacks
Sometimes we get acutely overwhelmed and we need a skill to reset our brains so we can move on... keep doing our work, get back into the moment, or just feel better. When we’re anxious and panicked, our sympathetic nervous system (the “fight, flight or freeze” system) is supercharged. We can’t tell it to stop, but we can put a brake on it by activating its counterpart --the parasympathetic nervous system. The vagus nerve --the wandering nerve (called that because it is wanders from our brain down through our chest and to our abdomen --is a major controller of the parasympathetic nervous system. We can trigger the vagus nerve with a few simple techniques, and as a result, increase our parasympathetic response, which will help us physiologically calm down. What are some vagus nerve hacks you can do?Humming, singing, and om.
Gargling. Splashing cold water. Valsalva, belching. Deep, slow breaths. Loving kindness meditation

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