Tag Archives: Being Present

How Mindfulness Works

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Looking Under a  Hood

Looking Under a Hood

Many years ago, I read a book that spoke about how we need to provide ourselves with self-check ups. It was a strange idea, I thought, because I’m with myself all the time, what on earth do I need to check in about?

But I am sure that we can all relate to ‘catching’ ourselves doing certain things – when a moment of sanity hits us smack in the head – and we realize something is going on with us that we had absolutely no conscious awareness of at all.

A great example of that for me, is when I find myself with a piece of candy in my mouth that I just bit down hard into, knowing perfectly well that:
* I certainly wasn’t hungry and didn’t need the extra calories
* The candy was not offered to me
* It will wipe out many positive choices I have made in making healthy food choices and keeping myself more active

And now I know it is time for me to check in under my own hood and see what is really going on.

Most likely, this is what I find when I take a few minutes to still myself and give myself a health dose of self-honesty.

• Something is troubling me.
I may not know what it is immediately, and it may take an extra bit of courage, but something is upsetting me usually on a pretty strong and deep level. I need to be still with myself and let it surface and it usually does.

Fear

Fear

For me, almost all the time, fear is involved, and the fear can be more of an anxiety type fear than a specific fear, in fact, that is usually what I find until I sit still for a while and center things. The fear has not been given the chance to latch onto anything specific because I’ve been ignoring it, so it sort of latches itself all over and forms a sense of very general anxiety, with no real target. EVERYTHING feels pressured and there is a tension right in the pit of my stomach.

For any of you who do mindfulness type work, that is why the focus is on internal body sensations, because when we narrow it down to one area, it becomes more contained and then we can manage it.

Then I begin to miraculously become more aware of how quick and shallow my breathing had become and I now have all the physiological signs I need to realize how totally out of balance I have become.

It is time for me to finish up whatever I’m in the midst of if I can’t just automatically drop it, and give myself 15 minutes of time to refocus myself. It doesn’t cost me by the hour, although if I find it persisting, talking to a friend who really knows me well or even finding a therapist is not a horrible idea.

Mindfulness-Mind-Map

What I need is time to refocus my focus. I concentrate on what is happening inside me rather than outside me, and my breathing becomes more regulated, my heart stops beating as quickly and once again, I regain a feeling of composure and a sense of ‘alrightness’ with me and my world.

THAT is how mindfulness works!

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!

Moving Through E-Motions

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scared

So, what is so frightening about our feelings? What is it about intense emotions that cause us to go out of our way time and time again, in order to avoid dealing with them?

For whatever it’s worth, here’s my take. It is human nature to fear what we don’t know or understand. We don’t have to go far from our own developmental process to see this as fact. Children aren’t afraid of daylight – they are afraid at night, when it is dark. Because it is difficult to actually see things in the dark, our imagination kicks in and feeds our thoughts. (And, if you see a connection between the words imagination and image, you can link them together and come up with how our imaginations create images inside our heads all the time.) Another ‘factoid’ about human nature, is that we tend to imagine more of the worst than the best. Again, if we reflect on the way things are with young children, they imagine monsters under the bed not fairy princesses.

Having said that, what I believe is that when it comes to our feelings and emotions, we are likely to imagine them being much worse than they are in actuality. We blow them out of proportion and continue through the cycle of avoiding them because now, we are even more fearful of facing them than ever.

No Thinking

No Thinking

How do we stop the madness? Remind yourself we have not been told to think about our feelings. The suggestion is to get in touch with our feelings. We don’t touch with our brains. We need to feel our emotions, to experience them.

It has taken me a while to get it, but I finally understand this to mean I need to identify where in my physical body I am feeling the feeling; to acknowledge it being there; to breathe into it and stop resisting it, and to let it be. Amazingly, it doesn’t last forever. It dissipates and dissolves, eventually other feelings appear, and they move on too.

They are JUST feelings. They do not have any control over me that I am not willing to give up. They do not have any more power than anything else. They are not against me. They are for me to accept as part of who I am.

One of the neatest things about feelings that I’ve discovered, is that there is absolutely no such thing as wrong or right to them. They just are.

Meditation

Carve out 10 or 15 minutes to get to know your feelings today. As I heard said the other day “don’t just do something, sit there!”

I would truly love to hear how it goes.

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!

What About Feeling?

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Emotion Poster

Let’s talk a bit about emotions. I’m not sure why, but most people seem more comfortable referring to them as feelings than as emotions. Perhaps the word feelings sounds more personal and less official in a way and that makes them a bit less ominous.

But whether we call them feelings or emotions, they refer to internal sensations that get stirred up when life happens. We all experience them. Interestingly however, if you do a search to find out how many feelings an average person experiences in any given day, you will find nothing. The options that come up will range from the number of thoughts a person has on an average day to the amount of calories a person should consume in an average day to how many times an average person urinates in an average day. But nothing about how many feelings a person experiences on the average.

According to dictionary.com emotion is: ‘an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.’

If this sounds a bit tough to pin down and measure to you, don’t worry. You are not alone. That is why we can’t determine something like an average amount of them each day for the average person. When it comes to emotions, for all intent and purpose, there is no real average. One person can become extremely emotional when they experience a specific event while another person experiencing the exact same event for the exact same amount of time has no emotional reaction whatsoever. In fact, one person can experience an intense emotional reaction to something one time, and later in the same day, experience no emotional reaction to the same event. How do you measure something that ambiguous and unique?

confusion

The confusion regarding emotions doesn’t only impact things like quantifying them. Many times, people find emotions difficult to identify, understand and manage; even their own. Quite often, if you ask someone how they are feeling, they do not really know. This is because as often as we experience emotions, we do not pay them much attention. Many times, this is not a very wise thing, because emotions have a funny way of piling up if they are intense and they are not dealt with.

When we think about the way we feel, we extend the feeling and compound the emotion. This would be a good thing in regard to positive emotions, like if we feel excited about an upcoming event and think about the way we feel, we intensify the excitement. It would not be a wise thing to do when it comes to negative emotions, however. But many people tend to do just that. By thinking about feeling upset, we ‘work ourselves up’ even more and become angrier.

What’s a person to do? This poses a dilemma because we are finding that it is healthful to get in touch with our emotions, yet we are saying it is not wise to think about them if they are negative.

The key is in the word “think.” Getting in touch with our feelings is not a cognitive process. Let me say that again. Nobody ever said to ‘think’ about feelings. Getting in touch means experience them – not think about them.

Just Be

Just Be

Feelings equate to being, not thinking. And most of us don’t know how“to be.” That is not a concept that many of us are familiar with. In fact, it is a concept that most of us are very uncomfortable with.

Now “THAT” is something to think about.

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!