What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the art and practice of being present with reality while remaining in contact with who you want to be as a person. This may sound simple, but very few of us actually do this on a consistent basis. We are naturally present as children, and then in response to our experiences of external feedback or trauma, we began to arrange our actions around being accepted by those around us, or not feeling pain, or in some cases, survival. As children, we don’t always have the freedom to choose our actions and personal expression freely as an extension of our authentic selves and experience. We often have to repress ourselves, deny ourselves, and sometimes lose ourselves in order to be “accepted” by those around us. The capacity to self-validate while creating personal safety and having freedom of choice to leave certain people or situations (or tell them how we really feel), is only made available to us once we reach adulthood and are able to provide ourselves the basics of self-care and a certain amount of financial independence. At this point we are now free to be who we want to be as alive breathing humans having this amazing life experience, but by this point we are stuck in old patterns of thinking and behaving that have become ingrained into our psyches and bodies. We have taken on unhelpful patterns of programming and forgotten how to be present. This happens to EVERYONE to varying degrees.
It takes an influence outside of yourself, with a different perspective from yourself, to help you get out of chronic conditioning, and be able to observe your unhelpful patterns so that you can change them. One way of putting it is that your hardware works just fine; there is nothing inherently “wrong with you”. But you need a software update. The good news is that new software is readily available and not that difficult to adopt with a knowledgable guide! Learning how to be mindful and present is the first step towards that update.
If you are looking to feel more alive, get greater satisfaction from work and relationships, or find the courage to make a change in life, learning and developing a regular mindfulness practice can help. As human beings, external people or situations can often feel overwhelming or seem to have control over our behavior and feelings. This delusion leads to resistance and unnecessary suffering. Life inevitably involves pain and challenges but it does not have to feel like you are constantly swimming against the tide. Mindfulness practice teaches us practical and effective tools to change our brains and create greater awareness of our own inner power.
As a modern therapist, the science of mindfulness is a core component of my theoretical orientation, and mindfulness training is highly effective in both individual and couples sessions. For couples, learning mindfulness together can increase your sense of intimacy and connection. There are many different formal mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation, but mindfulness practice can also be seamlessly integrated into your daily life. You do not have to sit crosslegged and say OMs to learn mindfulness; you don’t even have to take time out of your daily life. You can learn to be mindful while doing almost anything. It is more about a way of being, shifting your perspective to be the observer rather than all always being wrapped up in your feelings and emotions (and therefore controlled by them). This new perspective provides clarity, and gives you the space to make healthier choices. It’s important to learn mindfulness from someone who truly practices it in their daily life. Otherwise, the two of you will stay stuck in your head together while talking about supposedly mindful concepts. In session, I embody mindfulness while teaching, making our sessions highly effective and efficient.