Live with awareness and acceptance in the present moment
No doubt you’ve heard the term ‘mindfulness’ before but perhaps you’ve never fully understood what it means. Mindfulness is a way of thinking and being, which revolves around the practice of awareness, acceptance and living in the present moment. It is a type of meditation but it doesn’t require you to sit crossed-legged, with palms held together as if in prayer. It is something that can be done anywhere, at any time.
Heightened awareness is an important part of mindfulness. This awareness focuses on our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations as they happen. To practise awareness, try to consciously recall your thoughts and label your emotions. It may be helpful to do a ‘body scan’ to recognise your bodily sensations. This involves scanning your body from head to toe, with keen attention, to identify any physical sensations you may be experiencing. By being aware of our thoughts, feelings and sensations, we are able to focus our minds on the here and now, rather than getting lost in escalating thoughts and behaviour.
Non-judgemental acceptance is another important element of mindfulness. When you have accessed your heightened awareness, you are not required to alter, stop, challenge or improve your observations. You can matter-of-factly label your thoughts and emotions, such as, ‘I am thinking that I’m going to stumble over my speech and I feel anxious.’ And you can matter-of-factly describe how your body is responding to your thoughts, such as, ‘I am sweating and my hands are shaking.’ Mindful acceptance simply requires you to be aware of what is going on in the present moment and to acknowledge this as fact. This can take some getting used to, as we often instinctively judge our reactions as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and we often want to stop something we perceive as negative. Instead, sit with your thoughts, feelings and sensations. However, you don’t need to dwell on them. Bring focus to them by figuratively ‘taking a photo’ then let go of them by watching that photo drift down a stream.
The Present Moment
Another important element of mindfulness is living in the present moment. This involves heightening our awareness of any task that we are engaged in. Using our senses is a great way to practise being present in the moment. An example of this includes paying close attention to what someone is saying, noticing their changing facial expressions and listening to the rise and fall of their voice. Another example is being aware of the cool, smooth, heavy feeling of a pen in our hand while writing a letter, as well as the sound of scratches it makes on the paper and the shape of the letters as we write each word.
Mindfulness at Create Balance
The therapists at Create Balance Psychotherapy and Counselling use mindfulness based therapies in conjunction with and to complement a range of other therapies. It is a suitable and effective practice for numerous mental health concerns and is a particularly effective therapeutic intervention for anxiety, depression, addiction, PTSD, OCD and confidence issues. Our therapists will work with you to develop and practise mindfulness skills which can be used not only in moments of distress but also as a new way of thinking and reacting.