Mindfulness has become a mental health buzzword that sometimes gets a bad rap. I will be honest, when I first began my masters in counselling, I was skeptical about mindfulness, mostly because I was unaware of what it was. I was super resistant and thought it was hokey. However, I was regularly invited to join in on mindfulness exercises and would often participate only so I wasn’t bored or left out. Over time and with practice, I started to enjoy the process and soon gained relaxing benefits. Near the end of the masters program, I looked forward to our mindfulness exercises. Here is what I learned: Mindfulness is not a state of freeing your mind or trying to think about nothing. There are many ways to engage in mindfulness and you can choose a style, script or practice that suites you. The dictionary defines mindfulness as, “A technique in which one focuses one's full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them: The practice of mindfulness can reduce stress and physical pain” (mindfulness, n.d.).
I would like to revisit a point I made in a previous blog post and that is, new experiences can trigger our flight/fight/freeze response making us feel uncomfortable. This is true of novel techniques such as mindfulness. For some people, trying it the first time seems a bit odd or uncomfortable and that can lead people to writing it off. However, I would suggest evaluating the discomfort. For example, is there something specific you don’t like that you could change? For me, I originally didn’t like to close my eyes, although I don’t mind it now. For others, it might be that you don’t feel good at it. That’s the wonderful thing about mindfulness, it’s meant to be judgement free. You can practice but it’s not about doing it right, it’s about being more comfortable with it. Mindfulness is about noticing things judgement free. Not evaluating them as good or bad, just noticing them.
Like anything, mindfulness exercises take some practice to get accustomed to. The thing about mindfulness is it’s best practiced when we don’t need it, when we are in a state of calm and relaxation. If we can become comfortable with them and well practiced in them, we can implement the skills more effectively when we are stressed out, anxious or in a heightened emotional state.
You can watch the video below a few times to get the most out of. It will remain available on my Youtube channel and Facebook page. Try the exercise a few times until you have learned to do it on your own.
The mindfulness exercise I chose was a common one. The thing I like about it, is that it’s meant to be done with your eyes open and can be done almost anywhere. Sometimes I practice it while I’m a passenger in a vehicle or while I’m at home in my living room. Later, when I need it in a crowded room, in a doctor’s office, or in a dentist’s chair, I can. It’s called 5-4-3-2-1. I’m going to invite you now to join me in the exercise. If you aren’t comfortable at this time, feel free to listen and observe the video as it will only take a few minutes. The 5-4-3-2-1 exercise begins at the 4:46 minute mark in the video.
If you are interested in additional mindfulness or grounding techniques or scripts, please contact me. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear them. Additionally, if you have a topic that you would like covered on Wellness Wednesday, let me know! I look forward to next week. Take care and be well.
mindfulness. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved August 9, 2017 from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/mindfulness