Do you find yourself dwelling on negative past experience? When thinking about the future, do you become filled with anxiety or dread? Does it sometimes feel like the way you feel right now is the way you will always feel? Mindfulness can be an effective means for addressing and managing these kinds of disruptive thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness, or shamatha, is a sub-discipline of Buddhist meditation that was introduced to the West as a way to deal with stress and anxietyalmost 20 years ago. Since then, it has been found to be useful for treating a wide range of emotional distress, from acute traumatic stress to depression. By learning to let go of negative experiences and emotions you may be hanging onto, you can free yourself from the pain those experiences and emotions are causing you.
How Does Mindfulness Work?
When you practice mindfulness, you learn to notice present thoughts, feelings and sensations, allowing them to pass by, without judgement. This creates a state of “naked awareness”, which is what’s at the heart of the letting go that can make mindfulness such a powerful healing tool. It isn’t passive exercise, but, rather, involves focused self-examination. This can help you free yourself from the burden of the internal and external experiences that may be weighing you down and making you miserable.
Mindfulness focuses on gentle self-acceptance andrecognition that there isno right or wrong way to think or feel. When practicing mindfulness, your thoughts are directed toward paying attentionto the present moment, rather than reliving the past,or projecting into the future. It also helps you acknowledge that the emotions you’re experiencing right now do not define you and, just like everything else, will change.
Mindfulness in Counseling and Therapy
Mindfulness is a simple idea. It involves giving focused attention to what’s happening for you physically and emotionally in the present moment. By identifying both your physical and emotional experience, you can start unpacking that experience and identify the thoughts and feelings associated with it.
Once you’ve begun to identify your thoughts and feelings, you can begin the process of accepting and allowing. Within the framework of mindfulness this is the non-judgement that takes the charge out your experience and quiets your mind, helping you better regulate your emotions.
Working with mindfulness in counseling can take on a few different forms. Your therapist might have you start out by focusing on your breath. He or she might ask you to do what’s a called a ‘body scan’, where you start at your feet or the top of your head and work your way up or down the body to identify sensations that may be helpful in unpacking negative thoughts and emotions. Another strategy may be to first use guided imagery that helps center your focus on the body and then moves to, again, identifying areas—either physical or mentally—where you may be holding onto negativity.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Engaging in mindfulness practice as part of therapy also raises these same kinds of questions. At West Hartford Holistic Counseling, we’re here to help, support and inform you on your journey….
How will mindfulness help me with my emotions?
Mindfulness practice increases positive emotions. It helps reduce stress and anxiety, as well as the tendency to rehearse negative past experiences that contribute to that stress. People who practice mindfulness also report a reduction in fatigue associated with intense emotions and a general sense that they are more emotionally regulated.
Will practicing mindfulness help my relationships?
By being better able to respond to stress through the practice of mindfulness, people often find they experience less conflict, and are better able to handle conflict when it does arise. This is especially true with couples, who also report greater intimacy, increased acceptance of their partner and, overall, a greater sense of satisfaction with their relationship. Communication skills are also enhanced because when you are more engaged in a situation or conversation, you are better able to navigate any unexpected moments.
What will mindfulness do for me?
One of the most pronounced effects of mindfulness practice for the individual is an increase in self-compassion. Compassion is a key part of emotional intelligence, but it is something you may often fail to allow yourself. Two of the central elements of mindfulness are not reacting and not judging. When you learn to exercise these two powerful skills with yourself, you are giving yourself permission to quiet your inner critic and deflect the negative self-talk with which you may be limiting yourself.
If you feel the learning and practicing mindfulness will enhance your quality of life and bring you the peace and joy you deserve on your unique journey, please contact us West Hartford Holistic Counseling, and one of our experienced counselors will be happy to speak with you about we can support you on your path.We are accepting new clients and will see you online in the comfort of your own home. We are here to support you in these trying and uncertain times and continuing to offer all of our services, through our secure online connection. Contact us today!