Vibrant Mind: Skill 5
Skill Five: Mindfulness
Skill Instruction Videos Can Be Found Here:
Where Do I Find My Mindful Self? How Do I Practice?
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means to deliberately pay attention to whatever you are doing, right now. It means to be in the present, aware of your mind, body, and surroundings. Everything except sleep can be done mindfully. Mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness. Mindfulness sharpens your attention over time.
How Do I Do It?
Create a daily mindfulness practice. Use what you learn from it to remain mindful, aware, and present as you move throughout your day. In particular, become aware of your:
- Physiological changes
- Surroundings in detail
Mindfulness therapy means to simply observe what is happening, particularly when stress arises. You may express what is happening either in a journal or to someone else, but there is no intention to change anything. The aim is to become familiar with how the mind works and its habit patterns. You are an observer collecting information. See. Feel. Hear. Know.
What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
Mindfulness sharpens the mind and its ability to focus. Your mind is like any other part of your being. There are benefits from understanding how it works and you can train it to work better. Specifically, mindfulness practice has the following benefits:
- Stability of mind – maintaining your mind in an alert clear space rather than at the two extremes of a dull or agitated mind.
- Flexibility of mind – the ability to shift your mind to whatever object you choose, rather than having it bounce haphazardly between a number of issues.
- Self-awareness – being aware of the contents of your mind, how it works with your body, and understanding the typical patterns of your mind.
- Responding rather than reacting – becoming less impulsive, e.g. when you are angry.
Like any other form of therapy, real change will require hard work and commitment. In this case, make a commitment to maintain your practice six days per week for ten minutes per day. New research shows physical changes in the brain and body after six steady weeks of practice.
But wait, I’m learning other skills such as CBT and EFT (tapping) to combat negative thoughts. How come mindfulness wants me to simply observe? What about my other skills?
Mindfulness asks you to observe without wishing anything were different. Other therapy skills teach you to manage anxiety, depression, and pain assertively. Clients find it confusing when this skill of just being is introduced. Think of mindfulness as a way of living, not a skill. The powerful awareness it offers means you can decide what to do in any situation from a centered, calm place. You may decide to let the situation go, but you may also decide action needs to be taken. This action includes changing the thought, stopping the thought, distracting yourself, etc.
Ellen Hendrickson, Ph.D. busts 4 myths about mindfulness: #1 Mindfulness is not: A vacant mind. Your mind is designed to be anything but vacant. All day we think, notice, and concentrate. Mindfulness isn’t asking your mind not to think, it’s asking it to focus its attention. #2 Mindfulness is not: Flow. Mindfulness is often mistaken as a state of deep concentration or absorption. Mindfulness is this moment, not what’s happening in it. #3 Mindfulness is not: Joy. While you can certainly be happy while being mindful, mindfulness itself is not a feeling. It is the space in which consciousness arises. #4 Mindfulness is not: Peace. I’ve seen mindfulness described as “an oasis of calm in which our problems melt away,” which sounds great – sign me up! But relaxation often implies passivity, while mindfulness can require a lot of work.
Final Thoughts on Mindfulness
- We often experience the self as the ‘mind’. We have been conditioned to think we are exactly what we think or feel. The self is awareness. The mind is a product of our brain. Our thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and reactions are separate from awareness which is pure consciousness.
- Depression, restlessness, distress, and anxiety occur in the mind and the body. Our awareness, our self, is separate. We are not our depression or anxiety. Once you learn to separate your awareness from your symptoms you will be more able to tolerate them and see them as by-products of the mind.
- Connection to our awareness increases our tolerance of discomfort, helps us to accept pain or distress, and comforts us in the knowledge that discomfort is temporary.
- Where is it? Focusing on the center of the forehead, the mind’s eye, can help you first connect to pure consciousness, or awareness. Eventually, you will feel this awareness throughout your body. It will hum. It will occur along with your breath. I call this state ‘living in higher energy’. The hum you feel when you connect to your awareness has a corresponding frequency that shapes sand. Positive energy shapes cells.
- Mindfulness is not avoidance, distraction, or actively engaging thoughts and feelings. It is not analysis or judgment of what you are feeling or thinking.
- Visualize: your thoughts passing by, your emotions washing over you. Notice they come and go.
- Mindfulness is resilience. Life denotes suffering, so mindfulness can help us to see suffering as inevitable. We can see our most pure self as separate from the suffering caused by our mind and body. In this way, we acknowledge that we are spiritual beings embedded in physical matter.
MINDFUL LIVING RESOURCES – TOOLS TO HELP YOU ON YOUR PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT
Trans4mind is my favorite online resource for all things Mindful. It’s featured on my company’s Facebook blog! It is packed with inspiring memes and pictures, articles and awesome writers/speakers. It is my go-to every day for filling my online space with motivational materials:
This is a fun, funky website for wellness-related materials with a focus on enlightenment! You can subscribe for $2 per month!
This is a website with a strong clinical punch that focuses on skills for mindfulness, especially as it relates to relationship skills and managing emotional storms!
A great site for exploring the skill of empathy. Yup, it’s a skill!
My CBT guru for reigning in the wayward mind and living in a more disciplined fashion! David Burns has podcasts, live seminars, and written materials:
For couples that want to explore how mindfulness and intimacy are connected:
A new wave movement on living authentically:
Follow Jack Kornfield on the web and social media for beautifully written articles on mindful living.
And of course, our book soon to be hot off the press: “Mindful Mates”.
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Traci Baxendale Ball, LMSW, CAADC is the founder of Vibrant Health Company LLC
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