Becoming and being mindful is a practice’ very much like learning to play a musical instrument or play a sport. The skills can be learned and incorporated into one’s life.
And there is no “perfection” to be attained. There is no failing.
The foundation skill of mindfulness is attention. One of the simplest ways–though not always easy– to nurture attention is by observing your breath. Because the mind is naturally active and our focus frequently shifts away, we have to bring the attention back to the breath over and over. That’s one reason Mindfulness is a practice!
Recognizing when we are engaged in thinking, snagged by stories about our thoughts, feelings and sensations, and then bringing our attention back to the breath IS a basic Mindfulness practice.
The breath becomes an anchor for the attention.
As we continue this practice, we are building concentration and nurturing the ability to focus on what is happening in the present moment.
We are increasingly able to note our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations as they are happening.
And we can learn to work with this without judging or pushing away what we are discovering. We can befriend our inner experiences.
This is how we learn and practice being responsive, rather than reactive.
Another mindfulness tool involves establishing body awareness. We can find a world of information in the cues sent by the body, for instance the flutter in the belly, the headache, the neck pain, a facial expression. And by exploring the body even when we are not aware of experiencing discomfort we begin to listen to what the body conveys. By scanning the body with our attention in the Mindful Body Scan we learn to note the body’s links with thought and emotion. In this way we conceptually join the mind and body as the literally integrated system that it is!
Simple MINDFUL YOGA, non-strenuous movement and chair yoga supplement this discovery of the body’s role in creating and utilizing Mindfulness.
These practices can be introduced in the therapy session and supplemented by audio recordings for home practice between sessions. Reading materials are also provided to amplify and sustain the process.
*Mindfulness instruction is also available without psychotherapy for individuals and small groups.