In today’s fast paced world of information overload and multi-tasking, it’s easy to mindlessly sleep walk through our days. Who could be mindful for long when beeped with a text message every 4.5 minutes? Our minds are tied up with ridiculous “non-choices” like do you want paper or plastic, do you want the receipt in the bag or with you and which of 37 toothpastes for tartar control should you buy?
When we are mindless we eliminate our ability to make a creative response and can cause inadvertent pain to others. Our unconsciously escalating emotions cause us suffering and create an impulse to act to relieve that suffering. But when actions are generated by unconscious impulses our choices are usually not healthy ones. This is when we stuff our feelings with ice cream, react in anger and frustration instead of understanding, or pull the covers over our head and escape from the world.
Mindfulness is about cultivating awareness in the present moment with a non-judgmental attitude toward your inner experience. It is a practice of non-doing, or being instead of doing. It is about asking who is doing the doing. It’s about taking a breath in the middle of our day. We practice moments of mindfulness regularly in order to build the mind muscles that will allow us to choose a moment of mindfulness in the middle of a stressful situation, crisis or triggering event.
Mindfulness meditation can be practiced daily for a short period of time to see positive results. Mindfulness is the ability to remain in the present, experience life fully, stay centered and balanced through life’s daily struggles and emotional highs and lows. Consciousness and choice are enhanced when thoughts, emotions, events, worries, and other people are seen through the eyes of mindfulness.
Living more fully in the moment enhances brain function, increases flexibility in our responses to life, encourages us to approach rather than avoid challenges and teaches us how our habits of mind can impede our growth and change. Just a few minutes of mindfulness practice has been shown to sharpen concentration and focus, reduce stress and anxiety, help with pain management, improve performance, help with social anxiety, and allow relaxation and peace of mind.
Mindfulness practice helps with sleep disorders, eating disorders, depression and relationship issues. The non-judgmental attitude allows us to de-escalate our emotions by being aware of how we escalate them ourselves in the first place. Mindfulness practice enhances intuition, innovation, creativity, consciousness, tranquility, resiliency and equanimity. Emotional Wealth is a product of mindfulness.
During a session many emotions and thoughts usually surface. We may look inward to feel more deeply what that emotion or thought is about. We try to identify the decisions that are being made mindlessly. This may mean identifying the roots of conflict we have with a spouse or partner, emotions about the past, or why we feel depressed in the moment.
It also involves teaching mindful exercises that enhance concentration and brain development, and reduce the unconscious motivations that sometimes spur us to wrong action or thought. Hypnotherapy and Self-Hypnosis are techniques that can aid mindfulness. Sometimes we may close our eyes to get in touch with the inner experience without the distractions of visual input.
Ready to learn mindfulness? Check out the Reading List.
Jeanne M. Strauss, LCSW, NBCCH • 210-787-6384 • Email