Did you ever make up your mind that you were going to buy a new car? One of the most amazing things happens when that occurs. After painstaking contemplation and consideration, you finally decide on the make and model you are going to get, maybe even the color.
It is always right after this decision that you become amazingly aware of just how many makes and models in the same color you have chosen are actually on the road. It is almost as if a magic car fairy has transplanted all these ‘imitation’ vehicles on the roads you travel, just for you to be able to see just how your new car is going to look on the road once you get it.
Not really, but it sure does seem that way!
Well, it’s sort of like that when it comes to me and the term mindfulness. I first ran across the word term when a colleague of mine who is very up on these types of things began using it in conjunction with regard to her working with her clients who were overly anxious. She didn’t define it, but I pretty much understood what the concept meant through the content of her description.
And then, as if by some miracle, the expression fairy came down and began placing the concept of mindfulness in more than ¾ of the material I read and things I heard. It is a major construct in positive psychology and it seems to be more or less of a buzz word these days but that just makes me wonder if it is be getting too much use.
The risk is that it is misused, not really over-used. So, I am going to try and prevent that from occurring when I discuss it. To me, mindfulness is more than becoming aware of ourselves on a deeper level. It is also becoming more aware of other people on a deeper level as well. And that is an important component of the term because without it, we are shortchanging its intention as well as many of the benefits to practicing it.
To be mindful means to be able to tune in without distraction – not only the type of outer distractions we are all so familiar with, but also anything going on within us as we are dealing with a given situation.
Time for a bit of honesty here – because we all do it. I know you know what I’m talking about – I am as guilty of it in my role as anyone – we are called upon by someone who has something to say to us, be it professionally or in our private lives – maybe our spouse or our son or daughter – and we start out attending to them and listening intently. But out of nowhere, we get walloped with the thought that we have to be at the field to pick up little Jimmy and there is bound to be traffic and dinner is going to be late enough as it is and yadda yadda….
Before we know it, our insides are shaking, our brainwaves are frazzled and we haven’t really heard the last 50 words the person speaking to us has said.
We are human. Our feelings are impacted due to all the thoughts that float in and out of our heads. I have heard most people averages about 60,000 thoughts per day. That’s an awful lot of opportunity for internal distraction, don’t you think?
So unless we can learn how to temper our feelings that go out of whack when some of these 60,000 thoughts triggers deep feelings for us, we are going to lose our attention and our focus. In essence, we have popped out of mindfulness.
So in order to really be mindful, we have to learn how to handle our internal emotions from pulling us off track and since we can’t stop thinking, the only possible point for control comes when the thought triggers the feelings.
If we learn how to manage our emotions so we do not lose our equilibrium – our balance, then we can remain mindful and still give our feelings the right to exist. In fact, we actually give our feelings more permission to exist through being mindful – we just don’t dwell on the feelings and permit them to knock us out of balance.
So, my goal for today is to figure out the best way for me to be able to post healthful and simple ways to handle feelings, while granting them full permission and acceptance, so we can remain mindful and in balance for ourselves and for others.
Here’s to practicing mindfulness!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!