As much as most of us wouldn’t want to admit it, we are often running on a kind of intellectual and emotional autopilot. We react without really thinking. We feel sad, anxious, scared and angry without fully or clearly knowing where those emotions come from. As a result, we end up with some mental health and relationship issues.
You see, somewhere inside we have stored a bunch of “rules” that we never participated in making. They might no longer be true or effective. They may not even belong to us. But these rules unconsciously control what we see, how we act, and the kind of emotional responses we have.
And to make it worse, we are bombarded with claims and opinions from friends, family and the media that sneak into that internal storage room and get locked into our subconscious limbic system, without much if any careful examination.
Mindfulness-Based Awareness can help you prevent all of that.
Mindfulness is more than having a better attention span. It is a way of observing your own thoughts, emotions, and bodily-felt responses with more curiosity, discernment, and acceptance. Put another way, mindfulness is being in the moment, and aware of your responses to the moment at the same time. It’s the practice of being conscious of how you are perceiving and reacting to what comes into your mind or environment, and increasing your openness to what you discover.
Mindfulness starts with simply asking yourself a question or two, then pursuing an answer until you gain more understanding or freedom. For example, let’s say you get out of bed one morning and realize you are feeling terribly sad. As you get dressed, you grow increasingly irritated with your wardrobe. Driving to work, you are impatient with the traffic, and each red light makes you angry.
A mindfulness-based approach to this could change the whole start to your day.When you first feel that waking sadness you might ask yourself what else you feel in that moment. Maybe you are tired from not getting enough sleep. And then your realize you had a poignant dream of a lost love that has provoked this bit of grief.
Instead of pushing it away, you allow memories of the dream and that love to replay as you have breakfast. In a mindful fashion, you might bring your thoughts into your heart and allow yourself to be aware of that sense of love that still lingers in your chest.
Feeling that love, you ask yourself what else are you feeling. And you then become aware of having gratitude for the experience of loving, even though it has ended. So now you choose an outfit to wear that reminds you of your precious love. As you put it on you notice that with the sadness you also feel a kind of happiness. It softens and warms you.
Because you were mindful with that initial emotion, and explored it through a few layers, you drive to work feeling whole and loving, and patient with yourself and others.
- Mindfulness is not technique or therapy in itself.
- It is not complicated
- Mindfulness does not require you to learn any principles or dogma.
- Mindfulness is not a religion.
Being more mindful doesn’t mean negating anything you currently believe. But it will help you see the bigger picture, to include more information, and to see what all of your options are in the moment.
Mindfulness is Good for You
When you use mindfulness, it restores your natural capacity to perceive without judging or fearing. It allows you the chance to question with an open-mind, rather than reacting with a pre-programmed closed mind.
Based on my Duke University “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” training for professionals, and from experience, I can say that mindful awareness is good for you in at least 10 ways, including:
- Making better choices and decisions
- Increasing patience and curiosity
- Reducing over-reactions
- Having more self-confidence
- Being more caring and compassionate
- Adapting to reality more quickly
- Creating a sense of inner peace
- Connecting thoughts and emotions to physiological responses
- Gaining reputation for being calm and intelligent
- Being able to prioritize more effectively
If you are interested in learning how the benefits of mindfulness-based awareness can change your life for the better, I’d be happy to talk with you about it. Contact me at 919-272-6220 to schedule an initial training session or to ask about a Mindfulness training package.
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