Do you feel like you run on autopilot or that strong emotions or urges hit you without warning and you don't know how to deal with them? If so, you are not alone. Tuning into emotions and paying attention to the present moment is difficult for many people. The good news is that mindfulness can help. As you begin to implement mindfulness into your life, use this Soothing and Mindfulness Handout to guide you. Let me help you learn how to better understand and implement mindfulness into your life. Contact me today!
Mindful does not equal mindfull. It is the opposite of having your mind "full" of thoughts. Mindfulness is “a way of paying attention: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally,” as described by Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine.
In essence, it is observing one’s thoughts, feelings and sensations with gentleness and kindness. It is accepting the ongoing experience without becoming overly attached to the outcome. For addicts, this means being present and aware of urges or triggers, instead of getting the “next fix.” Likewise, for those experiencing anxiety, trauma, and physical or emotional pain, being mindful means being in the moment, rather than looking toward the future for an escape or relief.
Doing structured meditations can be a great way to practice mindfulness. Here are a few mindfulness medication resources I recommend. However, structured meditations are not the only way to practice mindfulness. You can practice mindfulness in your everyday life by simply bringing curiosity to a daily activity. Brush your teeth as though experiencing the sensations for the first time. Drive to work as though it is your first time to drive that route. Eat breakfast as though you are tasting the flavors for the first time.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness can help in many ways. Here are seven empirically supported benefits of mindfulness:
1. Reduces rumination
Mindfulness can help individuals stop dwelling on negative thoughts. It can help individuals have a more positive affect and less depressive or anxious thoughts.
2. Reduces stress
Mindfulness can help an individual have less stress, process stress in a healthier way, and have less anxiety, less depression, and less somatic distress. Mindfulness can increase immune functioning.
3. Boosts memory
Being mindful can boost working memory capacity and increase information processing speed.
4. Increases focus
Mindfulness can increase an individual's ability to focus, or pay attention and better avoid distraction.
5. Decreases emotional reactivity
Being mindful can help individuals cope with upsetting events or information in a less emotionally reactive way.
6. Increases cognitive flexibility
Individuals who practice mindfulness can have a greater capacity for self-insight and information recall. Mindfulness can help individuals respond better to negative or stressful situations.
7. Creates greater relationship satisfaction
Being mindful can help individuals have the ability to respond well to relationship stress, and be able to communicate one's emotions to a partner. Being mindful can influence greater relationship satisfaction and intimacy.
Helpful Resources on Mindfulness
Bowen, S., Chawla, N. & Marlatt, A.G. (2011). Mindfulness-based relapse prevention for addictive behaviors. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Davis, D. M. & Hayes, J.A. (2012).What are the benefits of mindfulness? CE Corner (43, 7). Retrieved from: www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx
Do you have a specific question about mindfulness or how to be more mindful? Ask me.
If you are in an emergency or crisis situation, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.
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