Today, there are many different therapy techniques used to help people move from a place of “stuckness” to a fulfilled life. There is so much information on-line on self help. Today, I’d like to introduce a technique often used but rarely named in our recovery process. It requires listening to your heart. Mindfulness….what is mindfulness? How does it work? How can it help?
Mindfulness is the ability to think about what you think about. Hmmmm….how do you do that? Actually, we already do this, but are not aware that it is happening. Mindfulness is the ability to think about what you think about without judgment and reactivity. Hmmmmm…..what does that mean? Mindfulness is the ability to be present in the moment without feeling overly anxious, fearful, or reactionary in any way until you are prepared to make the decision you desire. Hmmmm….how does that help me?
If you think about your day, take note about how many things are done automatically or on “auto-pilot.” Do you notice your thoughts and your physical reactions to them? Do you realize how many decisions and situations you react to on a daily basis? Noticing these things is part of becoming mindful. Auto-pilot is not being mindful, but instead reacting too many years of fear, anxiety, pain killing, and denial. Being mindful can shed a huge flood light into the parts of your mind that you have allowed to become your decision making process.
Mindfulness is the ability to think about what you think about without judgment. Normally, we have quick reactions to our own feelings and thoughts. “Oh, I can’t do that. That’s too hard.” Or, “Oh, I can’t believe he said that to me. I am NOT going to talk to him anymore.” Or, “I don’t have the time or energy to finish that project. I give up.” Or, “They are never going to like me.” These thoughts are often accompanied by feelings and are quickly moving through the mind at lightning speed. Mindfulness is the opportunity to slow down this thinking by thinking about the thought further. “Is this really how I want to handle this?” “Is this how I want to feel about this?” “Do I know how to change the way I feel and do what I would like to do?”
Without mindfulness, life situations can seem black and white, either or, instead of “Yes, I can!” “Yes, I can do something I never realized before!” Mindfulness is hopeful in that you can teach yourself about what you truly need, beyond your first, initial reaction to a situation. Usually, your first reaction is quite basic, predictable. You must ask yourself, “Is that really where I want to settle into? The same old way I react and feel every time?” If a reaction is not helping you feel better about a situation, mindfulness can help you see other options.
Mindfulness can be accomplished through meditation, prayer, journaling, reading books on your particular situation, but all the while being mindful of how you react to what you’re experiencing. All without judgment. If there is negative self-talk, minimizing, or denial self-talk, then you are not engaging in mindfulness. You are facing barriers and defense mechanisms that are keeping your thoughts process prisoner to old ways of thinking. In this case, you will want to speak with a counselor who can help you move through these defensive structures in your thought process.
Mindfulness can take away the barriers of your own thought process and even alleviate stress and lead to better health! It only takes a few minutes of quiet time to meditate, pray, acknowledge that you would like to be more present in each moment of your life. You are worth it!