Lockdowns in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by ubiquitous social distancing that we endure to this day, showed us how much we crave social connection. Researchers show that loneliness affects our mental and physical wellbeing and can be more detrimental to health than smoking. However, Buddhist and other scholars have long proposed that present-centered attention nurtures positive social interactions and relationships. In this talk, Dr. Polina Beloborodova, PhD candidate at VCU Psychology Department, will present her recent study on how being present helps us to connect with others and overcome loneliness and isolation. She will also give tips on starting a meditation practice and share her experience of integrating her practice into daily life and research work.