#MotivationMonday: Mindfulness... The How.
It is the Spring of 1998. You are finishing out your sophomore year of college and you are currently in the passenger seat of your friend’s convertible driving down Wade Avenue. It is 4:07 in the late afternoon. The sun is shining brightly and the rays of it warm your skin. There isn’t a cloud to be seen in the beautiful Carolina blue sky. The slight cool breeze feels refreshing as it gently blows through your hair. The trees are in bloom and are rhythmically swaying in the breeze. Life is good. You are in the sweet spot of life and you feel good in your body, in this space, at this moment.
This memory is quite literally the first time I ever experienced mindfulness. I have lost touch with this friend from my sophomore year in college and it saddens me because she will never know what an incredible impact she had on my life in that moment. She taught me how to be present. She called this taking a mental photo.
I have practiced this – taking a mental photo, being mindful, being present – in moments throughout my life when I was experiencing something I never wanted to forget. Those moments are engrained in my memory and bring me such joy and peace. The kind of peace that only thrillingly happy memories can bring. I call on these memories when I am in a funk, need a pick me up, or want to be reminded of how to be fully present.
Recent research shows that by doing this, by practicing mindfulness, we can increase our resiliency factor. This means we can teach ourselves how to bounce back from adverse/stressful/anxiety provoking situations and in essence stop the spiraling of anxious thoughts that can lead to panic attacks or less severe moments of stress.
We are not addressing the underlying cause of anxiety by doing this, but we are improving our coping strategies and can greatly reduce the symptoms of distress.
Now, I ask you to try this:
Start by taking a few deep cleansing breaths to settle your breathing and heart rate.
Take a few minutes to think of an experience in life that brought you total peace or joy.
(Maybe it was when you were walking up to the shore and could feel the cold powdery sand move beneath your feet. The smell of the salty air instantly makes your shoulders relax and your body feel at ease. You can feel the warmth of the sun and the contrast of the cool breeze on your skin. You take a seat and dig your heels into the sand as you listen to the gentle crash of the waves on the beach. Allow yourself to melt into this moment and enjoy the peace it brings you.)
Don’t stress if you can’t think of a moment right now – instead, take this current moment and describe every aspect of it to yourself - your surroundings, what each of your senses is currently experiencing, and how your body feels at this time.
Do not assign negative emotion (such as: “Ouch, my back hurts, I wonder if that’s because xyz…”).
Simply recognize how you feel.
You want to describe this moment with such precision that you can remember what it felt like when you were here.
This is practicing mindfulness – experiencing the present moment while acknowledging and accepting your current emotions and sensations. YOU JUST DID IT!!
This is the HOW!
Set aside some time.
Observe the present moment as it is.
Let your judgments roll by.
Return to observing the present moment as it is.
Be kind to your wandering mind.
It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accrue. It becomes a skill to continue PRACTICING – like you would build muscles by weightlifting at the gym – consistently and on a daily basis. You’ll get stronger at this each time you practice.
Stay Tuned, we will talk about how to incorporate mindfulness in your regular daily life next week!
Until The, Be Well.
Niti Wade, LCSW is the Owner/Therapist at Gracefully Balanced Counseling, PLLC. With over 18 years of experience, she provides counseling services to individuals, couples, and families using an emphasis in her practice towards a mindful, solution-focused, and empathetic approach to therapy. Niti specializes in the areas of Anxiety, Depression, Familial and Intimate Relationship Issues, Grief, Life Transitions, Self Care, & Trauma.
Niti is a North Carolina native and graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. From there, she went on to graduate school at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she obtained a Master's Degree in Social Work.
You can learn more about Niti or set up a consultation or appointment over at www.gracefullybalancedcounseling.com,
find her on Facebook Here. Or reach out to her via email at Niti@gracefullybalancedcounseling.com
#mindfulness #beach #bepresent #anxiety #depression #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters #copingskills #April #GuestPost #healthyhabits #reflection #embrace #overcome #createyourlife #motivationmonday #healthyliving #thrive #gratitude #selfcare #reflect #progressnotperfection #stressreduction #overwhelm #Awareness #beintentional #themoreyouknow #ohm #breathe #relaxrelaterelease #happyplace