Perhaps the greatest gift we can give another person is our undivided attention. Being fully present means listening with every sense we have. It means creating a safe container to hold and honor the other person’s vulnerability in sharing.

The gift of presence is easier to describe than to do, much less sustain. Care givers are particularly vulnerable. Whether they are professionals like doctors, nurses, first-responders, therapists, etc. or family members tending children, elders or those with special needs, care givers face two challenges.

Like all of us they must manage the endless ringing bell of arrivals to our in-box, the daily barrage of data that lure our brains to sort and file. Distractions are a hazard to holding presence.

Having coached many of them, I have also found that care givers have a proclivity for self-neglect. In his meditation guide, Moment by Moment: The Art and Practice of Mindfulness, Jerry Braza quotes a nurse whose favorite slogan is “I can’t do you if I don’t do me.”

What does it mean to “do me?” How we answer will differ for each of us, but our answers will have the same goal: the more we can be present to ourselves, the more effective we will be in being available to others.

We can do three things: be mindful of our own needs, give ourselves permission to meet them and make the time required. When we recharge our batteries with rest, exercise and spiritual practice; when we expand our minds, cultivate the relationships that are most dear to us and have fun, we are better prepared to extend and sustain the gift of presence.

What is one step you can take today that will help you most to “do me?”