- Are you feeling stressed out, anxious or like you’re living on “auto pilot”?
- Has anyone ever told you that you need to relax?
- Do you have racing thoughts, even when you are trying to be calm or fall asleep?
- Does it sometimes seem as though you don’t really know how you feel?
- Do you wish you could feel more fulfilled, peaceful and relaxed and really appreciate all the moments of your day instead of just rushing through them?
Much of your life right now is probably spent “mindlessly.” Maybe you are going through your day and doing what you need to do, but not really paying attention or feeling present or engaged. You may feel as though you are always either rushing to work, taking care of the kids, stuck in traffic or trying to keep all of your obligations in order. Perhaps, when you have a moment to yourself, you default to playing games on your phone, shopping online or watching too much TV to “relax.” Maybe when you wake up in the morning, you feel a sense of dread before the cycle starts again.
It may seem as thought there is never time or space to really take a break and make sense of it all. Perhaps you feel increasingly dissatisfied, down or anxious, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to change. This can have a real impact on your mental, emotional and physical well-being. You may be struggling with illness, stress, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, etc…and you don’t have time to deal with that either!
Many People Struggle to Slow Their Thoughts
Before iPhones, laptops, cable TV and video games, people were more connected to the natural world, each other, and themselves. Today, most of us have so many things to think about, so many distractions and so much to keep us busy that we feel as though we don’t have a spare moment to be still. We keep it moving, and moving, and moving – from one thing to the next, from one distraction to the next, from one problem to the next.
A majority of my clients currently come to me with these concerns, and I see so many people who don’t fully understand why they feel the way they do, but know they don’t feel good. They know they need to change things but aren’t sure what to do or how to do it.
Discussing the problem over and over really isn’t very helpful either. You already know that there’s a problem! Talking about it with people and hearing about their problems is really just another distraction. It often doesn’t help, not in the long-term. It just keeps the thoughts going around and around and sometimes creates new thoughts to add to the mix of confusion and “off” feeling. Thankfully, there is a way to truly make a positive change.
Mindfulness Therapy Is an Ancient Solution to a Very Modern Problem
Mindfulness can help you rewire your brain because your brain changes based on how you use it. Every time you have a thought, it builds a neuron in your brain, and when these neurons connect, it builds a network. If you focus on anger, fear or playing Candy Crush on your phone, over and over, every day, you will have big sections of your brain devoted to these categories.
The exciting part is that you have a choice! If you want more space in your brain devoted to peace, compassion and joy, you get to be the architect of your own mind. With practice and intention, you will be feeling more peaceful, more loving and more kind, to yourself and others.
Many ancient teachers from all traditions understood and taught the value of being still, breathing and listening. Mindfulness, simply put, is observing what you think and feel without judgment. Rather than being unconsciously swept up into your thoughts and feelings without question, you can develop ways to observe and notice them, and if they are no longer serving you, shift them into something more true and helpful.
Mindfulness therapy takes many forms. You can practice by sitting quietly in meditation or by taking a walk in nature and observing the sights and sounds completely. Often, you can practice mindfulness by taking time, throughout the day to “check in” with yourself to notice how your body feels, what emotions you are experiencing and what you are thinking.
In therapy sessions, you can learn methods to make subtle internal shifts to adjust anything that is causing you discomfort or distress, whether you’re getting the message from your body, emotions or thoughts. So many of these thoughts and feelings are not in your awareness right now, but they are definitely in charge of what you’re doing if you don’t know what they are.
Stop. Right now. Just take a moment…take three slow deep breaths, inhaling through your nose for a slow count of four and exhaling out for a slow count of four. Now, just notice. Notice what’s happening in your body. Is your stomach tense? Are your shoulders hunched up around your ears? Is your jaw tight? Now check in with your emotions. Are you sad, angry or frustrated? Joyful, embarrassed or scared? Maybe a mix of different emotions?
Once you are able to understand what’s really happening underneath the surface of you, you can become able to make real, lasting changes. You can be able to feel more at peace and more content and enjoy much more control over your own life.
Ok, I’m ready to learn more about this “mindfulness therapy” thing, but I still don’t understand….
Doesn’t mindfulness therapy have something to do with religion?
No. While many traditions have incorporated mindfulness and advocated the benefits of it, mindfulness is definitely not affiliated with religion, and you do not have to be religious to use it. However, if you do incorporate religion or any form of spirituality in your life, mindfulness therapy can help and be a complement to it.
Is it difficult to practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness is not difficult to practice, but does take repeated “practice” over time, which mindfulness therapy can help with. It is like building muscle at the gym. It does take time and training, and the exciting part is that the benefits are generally not reversible. Once you are aware, it takes a lot of effort to go back to being unconscious.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Research shows that there are many many proven benefits of mindfulness. It actually changes the structure of your brain over time and practice. It allows you to grow the parts involved in peace, calm and reasoning and decrease activity in the parts associated with fear and emotional pain. In practical terms, this can help you feel better, more peaceful and more in charge of your thoughts and feelings. It has also been proven to decrease stress and strengthen the body’s immune system.
The journey of a thousand (rushing, spinning) thoughts, ends with a single step. Please call me at (206) 799-0936 or send me an appointment request to learn more about mindfulness therapy and begin your inward journey today!