A focal point in therapy for me recently has been Mindfulness. I know what it means to be mindful and had heard of the act of “mindfulness” before, but I never REALLY put much effort into practicing. I even received The Little Book of Mindfulness as a gift a long time ago and never really cracked it open until that first therapy session.
So what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is deliberately being aware of the current moment in time. Being conscious of how you may be currently feeling and focusing on what is going on inside and around you. Mindfulness is so important because it aids in being able to recognize your feelings, triggers, and moods. In protecting your mental health, a big step is actually being able to recognize your emotions. Allowing yourself those ill-feelings, realizing your triggers, and identifying certain moods play a role are critical to your healing. A good friend of mine gave me a tip on beginning to be more mindful. She encouraged me to stop and focus on the five senses in any given moment. Hone in on what you currently see, feel, hear, and even what you can taste and smell. Practicing this helped me train my brain to really try and focus. Attempting to meditate and focus has always been extremely hard for me because I have the attention span of a small child. Each time I attempt to consistently meditate, it’s a bust.
How are you being mindful?
A couple of weeks ago I was browsing the Class Pass schedule because I had to use my classes up early since I would be out of town for my last week. I came across a Mindfulness Meditation class at a nearby studio and signed up. The class was said to reawaken to the internal and external experiences of the present moment and is intended to strengthen the Mind. During the class, the instructor taught techniques and methods for systematically developing awareness.
The class began with sitting, or lying for some, in a comfortable position. The instructor explained what would be going on and how long each exercise would last. She talked us through what to do when our thoughts began to uncenter, and how to bring them back. Overall, I had difficulty centering my thoughts because they were literally all over the place, as always. As the instructor spoke, I often drew her out and had to go back and try and recenter my thoughts to listen. Think Charlie Brown teacher voice. LOL I do appreciate the class, especially the specific session on breathing. Focusing my breathing to different focal points really helped. At one point she instructed us to breathe into any areas that were tense or stiff. This allowed us to focus on releasing the tension in those areas. Listen. It worked. I had so much tension in my shoulder area and when I started to direct my breaths there, I could literally feel the tension being released.
Since beginning to practice mindfulness, I’ve been better able to understand my feelings, moods, and recognize certain triggers. It’s still difficult for me to focus entirely and get into the headspace of centering my thoughts, but I’ve progressed. I’ll probably go to the class again as I continue to focus on being mindful and focus on mindfulness as a whole. It really does help, especially on this journey of protecting my mental health. If you’re interested in starting a mindfulness journey of your own, check out this free five-day email course geared towards becoming more mindful.