Tag Archives: present

Interior Vs. Exterior

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Internal Image

Internal Image

There is so much more to be said for the topic of mindfulness. One image that continues to come back to me each time I start to write about it, is that of shadow boxing. When we are in a situation in which we are not able to see or understand whatever it is we have to undertake, there is no way we can be very effective with it.

The more we understand the task we are faced with, the better we can accomplish it. That seems like it would be such an indisputable fact that it boggles my mind when it comes to issues like anxiety, depression or emotional struggles we may have.

That is not to say that we all need to obtain a PhD is psychology or biology, but it does speak clearly to emotional awareness and mindfulness. Nobody knows better how we are feeling that we do. And nothing helps us get more in touch with how we feel than learning how to zero in on the moment and experience it more fully by focusing on it more intently.

By shifting our focus from the external to the internal and then back again brings a new level of awareness and depth to the way we experience life.

How Much Time

Balance

Balance

Finding a balance is key. It doesn’t help us to dwell on our feelings or sensations for too long; in fact, it could actually become counter-productive if we do. And, conversely, it isn’t effective if we don’t spend enough time and attention to our inner feelings, because we can’t truly get in touch with what is going on unless we experience it.

A good springboard is approximately 20-30 minutes a day. And, as with developing any habit, it takes our brain 30 days to learn a new routine. Devoting more time than that is not helpful and as I mentioned, it can be counter productive. The idea is to experience sensations, not to think about them too much or to focus on them beyond the allotted time.

Internal Benefits

When something goes wrong inside our bodies, if it is not easy to detect outwardly like symptoms of a cold or flu, a physician will call for testing that delves deeper like blood work, x-rays, scans or even an MRI.

I see mindfulness as the emotional equivalent of that. And the great news is that it is much less expensive! It does, however, require a lot more courage and commitment. For most of us, it is coming face to face with fear, anxiety, rage, sadness and emptiness. These are not the types of things we look forward to experiencing and yet, becoming mindful means we are voluntarily opting to experience them.

Meditatinon  and Yoga

However, by allocating a time and a place to let them come up, we become free of the fear they hold over us.

Very rarely are emotions released in a crazed rush that overwhelms or overtakes us. It is much more like time released vitamins or medication. The process is a gradual, slow and steady one. Our emotional ‘wounds’ can take days, weeks or even months to release and heal.

But if you stay devoted and committed to the practice of mindfulness, you will find that you truly hold the key to making your life better.

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!

The How To’s of Mindfulness

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Habits

Habits

If we wish to learn a new habit, there is much documentation to support that we need to spend approximately a month repeating the new behavior in order to get it to become routine in any way. We learn better slowly, giving our brains time to process and absorb and finally retain important pieces of information and behaviors that we wish to repeat and incorporate as part of our regular activities.

Having said that, mindfulness cannot truly be effective until it becomes a habit. And as we have stated earlier, mindfulness is something that we practice, allowing it to become more comfortable and familiar the more we practice.

Digging deep inside to learn more about who we are and what we feel takes determination and courage. Self exploration into the depths of our being means we will be confronting the sensations (feelings) associated with some of the most significant events we have faced in our lives. There are going to be intense emotions that will most likely come up.

Strong Emotions1

But if we choose to follow a path of mindfulness, we are willing to face them anyway. I strongly encourage anyone willing to follow this type of path of self-discovery to keep this in mind and take some time each day to recognize just how wonderful what you are doing is. Realize how brave you are being and praise yourself for taking these steps. I am 100% certain you would do at least as much for someone else if you learned that they were undertaking something like this.

Be gentle with yourself throughout the process. Make sure you have set up a system of support for yourself, a friend or two who you can talk to anytime about what you discover. You are looking for someone who will listen to your experiences and not judge or have their opinion over-ride your actions.

And please remember to continuously grant yourself permission to experience all the feelings you encounter without dwelling on them for too long. The purpose is to experience all your feelings, but not to get lost or stuck in them. And the glorious part of mindfulness is that you don’t have to stop feeling as you go through the rest of your day. You can do both at the same time. The trick is not to stay deep in the emotions. Just know they are there and validate them and feel them.

If what you find yourself feeling strongly is a sense of numbness, remember that is a feeling as well. Come face to face with your feelings as being a significant part of yourself (because they are) and breath through them, maybe even asking yourself when you first started having this feeling. No judging, no analyzing, just experiencing, learning and accepting.

Here is a small trial run you can try, starting today. If you place one of your hands on your stomach and the other on your chest and feel if your breath is shallow or deep, if you haven’t practiced anything like this before, you will more than likely find it is fairly shallow. If your hands move an inch or less when you inhale and exhale fully, your breathing is shallow.

Don’t get discouraged. Most people don’t breathe deeply. This is mostly because in our crazy world of multi-tasking, diversions and interruptions, we don’t take the time to even think about how we breathe. If we did, more of us would breathe deeper.

So, over the next week, make a point of becoming more present to your breathing throughout the day. I understand you will not be able to do this for hours on end. Gently bring your awareness back to your breathing from time to time throughout the day more often than you normally would.

Then see how far your hands move when you measure how shallow or how deeply your breathing is. If you’ve done this routinely for a week, you should find a significant increase in how deeply you breathe.

The reason for the change is because you have brought your level of awareness regarding your breathing to the forefront. You have become mindful of what your body is doing and the outcome is improved breathing.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness

This is how mindfulness works in all aspects of our lives. By becoming more in touch with what we feel and who we are, we improve it automatically.

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!