Let’s talk about mindfulness and how I use it in my practice.
“Mindfulness is…paying attention on purpose in the present moment, non-judgmentally and in the service of self-understanding and wisdom.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness helps us in our relationships, in dealing with anxiety and illness, and in enjoying peace in our lives. During these stressful times of the pandemic and feeling isolated, mindfulness eases tension and encourages us to stay present.
The past is done. It cannot be changed, and although we may plan for future events, we truly have no idea what the future will bring. As Pema Chodron says, “The only permanence in life is impermanence.” Mindfulness is accepting the fact that things are constantly changing. When we practice centering and breathing, our thoughts tune into what we are sensing in the present moment, rather than focusing on the past or imagining the future.
“When you think about the past, you feel guilty. When you think about the future, you feel anxious.” ~ Jack Kornfield
Keeping this awareness helps us to stay in the present moment without judgment. It allows us to slow down, to accept what is, and to be kinder to ourselves. If you can take a breath before you speak or act, and become an observer of yourself, you are more able to look at a situation with calmness and patience. This is what Tara Brach refers to as “a zen moment.”
- First, sit comfortably, close your eyes or lower your gaze.
- Then, take a few slow deep breaths.
- If your thoughts wonder, gently bring your thoughts back to your breath.
There are no right or wrong ways to meditate, and there are no good or bad meditators. Remember, our minds are always running, so you will likely have many thoughts. Buddhism refers to this as “monkey mind.” Know that you are not alone in this.
There are many ways to begin a meditation and mindfulness journey. In my practice, I will encourage a client to explore meditation when they are feeling some anxiety or apprehension. I invite you to seek out guided meditations at home, so you can embrace what feels right for you. Great places to start include exploring apps like Headspace and Insight Timer, or searching mindfulness teachers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Tara Brach, or Jack Kornfield.
Tara Brach has a wonderful mindful self-compassion meditation, which has been found to be very beneficial for those dealing with anxiety or depression, especially during the pandemic. It’s a gentle meditation, which teaches you how to be kind to yourself. There are many other helpful practitioners out there to explore. Pema Chodron, Kristin Neff, and Sharon Salzberg are a few more notable mindfulness teachers you may want to look into. Feel free to share in the comments a mindfulness practitioner who has been influential to you.
Contact me if you’d like to know more about mindfulness, or would like to chat about what you might be going through. I’m happy to offer a free phone consultation. I will listen to you; hold space for you, and offer a bit of tough love where you may need help moving forward.