The Power of Mindfulness
Deb Schierbeck, LCPC,CST
Mindfulness is a meditation technique recommended for managing stress, chronic pain, expanding your spiritual practice and more. It offers these benefits by helping you release your mind from fixating on the past (Why did I do that?) or worrying about the future (How am I going to get evertyhing done?) so you can just experience each present moment. In this process you can momentarily "slip between moments" to a timeless place where you can access deep wisdom. Whether you believe that wisdom comes from a higher power, from deep within yourself-or both-doesn't matter. What matters is the deep relaxation and peace you find there. When you are in the present moment you can more intentionally weave your life's web, creating a more powerful journey. I think of the present moment as a network. It provides access to a barrage of information you can use to make good decisions--decisions that honor your values and lead you one step closer to your goals, dreams and passions. So why is it so difficult to stay in the here and now? The main ingredient for successful focus is undistracted attention. That may sound simple but it's not. It's difficult to weed out all the clamoring of our fast-paced internet society and stay tuned to our personal encounters. Our culture makes it difficult to purchase something as simple as a cup of coffee without "option overload." We're also bombarded by marketing strategies that offer the answer for how to make more money, lose weight the easy way, or even decide who to date. We are a culture focused on how to "fix" ourselves. But when we're chasing a fix, it's difficult to enjoy the present moment. If you are able to block out distractions and overcome overload, there's yet another tricky part of focused attention you may have to contend with. Your internal beliefs might "antagonize" your attention or dilute the experience of the moment. Many of our beliefs were established at an early age and sometimes remain unconscious. At one time, the belief made sense or event protected us. However, a belief that once worked may not remain relevant or accurate. Our beliefs might attempt to "sabotage" our mindfulness process, yet we can resist and instead use the clarity of mind we find in the present moment to challenge beliefs and examine if they still are true for us. For example, a child raised by a controlling mother who punished the child if she expressed individuality may adapt by becoming submissive. While it protected her to submit rather than resist as a child by perhaps thinking "go with the flow, don't rock the boat," the same type of belief might inhibit her as an adult to express her unique qualities. As the adult, she might reconsider her trepidation to perhaps share a creative thought with a business partner, assess if submissiveness is necessary in the particular moment, and allow the freedom to express herself. Although practicing mindfulness may take some practice, it is well worth taking the time to learn the experience. It's normal to feel as if you aren't capable of doing it, especially if you rarely experience silence or take "down" time. Still, over time, it will start to feel "normal." So whenever you find yourself getting distracted from being mindful, just bring yourself back to the present moment. Don't judge yourself if it takes a while to get the hang of it. Just be patient and compassionate with yourself.
CONCEPTS OF MINDFULNESS
AWARENESS - Focus your attention on one thing at a time. Recognize all the things that are going on around you (i.e., sounds, sights, smells). Recognize what is going on inside you (i.e., thoughts and feelings).
NONJUDGMENTAL OBSERVATION - Look at your experiences objectively. This means not to label anything, such as good or bad. Accept it as it is.
BEING PRESENT IN THE MOMENT - Focus only on what is happening NOW. Avoid thinking about the past or future.
BEGINNER'S MIND - Observe, look at things as they truly are, instead of what we think they are or evaluate them to be. Avoid preconceived notions. Absorb the real experience.
JOURNAL EXPERIENCES - This is an option. It is a powerful way to connect the dots of what happened then and how it plays a part in where you are now.
What amazing opportunities might await if you are open to them? I invite you to practice mindfulness, appreciate the value of the present and enjoy the journey. A gift awaits you...in the moment.