Mindfulness: Living in the Moment

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The ding of your phone as emails come in, planning tomorrow's activities or worrying over past mistakes, our minds are often battlegrounds of thoughts and information competing for our attention. This constant state of mental racing can leave us drained, anxious, and stressed. You've probably heard "mindfulness" mentioned as an alternative approach to dealing with the noise of our lives. But what does being mindful mean?

What is Mindfulness?

In Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life, Jon Kabat-Zinn defined mindfulness as "paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally." Mindfulness is a form of meditation that focuses our minds to what is happening right now and choosing to not pass judgment on whatever thoughts or emotions arise.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Practicing meditation has multiple benefits, including helping to alleviate stress, anxiety, pain, depression, and even insomnia. Mindfulness in particular is also being explored for potential benefits to military personnel with traumatic brain injuries and even as treatment for internet gaming disorder. Potential applications for mindfulness are still being discovered, such as in the workplace to help avoid job burnout and work-related stress.

Practicing Mindfulness

What does mindfulness look like in practice? While there are many ways to be mindful, here are a few approaches to get started:

  • Raisin Exercise – Take a raisin in your hand and encounter it as if you've never seen one before. How does it look? How does it feel? Pop it in your mouth. How does it taste? Slowly chew while focusing on the experience. By focusing on the raisin, you are forcing your mind to be present in the moment.

  • Mindful Breathing – Breathe in and out slowly, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pay attention as the breath goes in and out, giving your body life. Let your thoughts flow out with each breath.

  • Body Scan – Lie flat on your back. Close your eyes if this helps you focus. Become aware of where your body is pushing against the floor. Starting at the bottom of your feet, slowly bring your attention to each part of your body until you reach the top of your head.

Mindfulness is a simple practice to bring into your life with multiple potential benefits. Give mindfulness a try and experience the restfulness of living in the moment.

By the way, if you need any support regarding you as an individual or with your relationship, feel free to contact us today to learn how we can help.

10 Easy Ways to Please Your Partner

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Too often, communication between long term couples can be reduced to "shop talk"- the boring, logistical pieces of your lives. Did you take out the trash? What  time is the dinner on Sunday? Are examples of shop talk- and loving relationships need much more than that to keep up the connection.

Deeper communications may require an internal shift and some action around "small talk", and what I consider the lifeblood of any healthy relationship. Here are some ways to get the conversation started.

 Thank you for...

Everyone likes to be acknowledged and appreciated for what they do. Thank your partner for more than what you just asked them to do. Thank your partner for being a great parent, or always making time for you. 

How do you feel about...

Ask, and then really listen to what your partner is saying. Try to withhold judgement, and see what their response is.  

I forgive you...

Accepting your partner's apology for their mistakes is a way to let go of resentment, and that frees you both.  In fact, admitting your own mistakes may make you feel vulnerable, but your honesty is likely to inspire your partner to do the same.   

I agree with you because...

On any given day, we have people in  our lives that seem to love to disagree with us. Validating your partner's point of view  and perspective helps them feel heard, and strengthens the bond between the two of you.  

What are you reading?...What do you think about?...

Open up non "shop" talk communication on an intellectual level and you may feel the warmth of common views- or the sparks of difference- that drew you together in the past. Another version is Where do you want to be in five years? ... Listen to what your partner's vision is, and then share your own. The answers might inspire a new, shared plan or uncover hidden needs. 

Find your own variations of the questions above, or use these. Either way, you'll be sure to close some distance between yourself and your partner- and who knows where that will lead.   

Pack Your Bags

Doctors often use the word trauma to describe the effects of serious injury to the physical body, and the bruising  that is left behind from the sudden impact. We can also experience emotional trauma in the same way, and the bruising can be just as severe as with a physical wound. Just like a wound to our physical bodies, emotional trauma requires care and attention so that it may heal.

 If the trauma is left unresolved, it may affect our sense of self and wholeness as a person. This in turn affects our relationships, by bringing a piece of “baggage” into our present.  Emotional trauma can result from any experience in which a person feels that their life or well being is endangered. These experiences can be a divorce, and affair, or other life changing events. Our natural instinct is to protect ourselves, and may manifest as avoidance, denial or repression of the event. Symptoms of unresolved trauma may include addictive behaviors, anxiety and depression.   

 The impact on relationships is severe- wounds that continue to fester, low self esteem, and a complete unawareness of the intensity of negative emotions that are present. Triggers are common, and may unintentionally reopen the wound.

 When trying to heal a trauma from your past, what can you do to resolve the unresolvable?

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If you have had a traumatic event that is affecting your relationship, here are some ways to begin the healing process.  

 1. Understand trauma and its affects- read books, talk with a therapist, and get some outside help. Trauma is very difficult to deal with alone.

2. Develop emotional resilience- as hard as it is, you need  to experience your feelings, not push them away. This can also be accomplished through the help of a therapist.

3. Learn new ways of self soothing- develop self caring behaviors that give you positive feelings. These positive feelings will also spill over into your other relationships.

4. Make sure that you give yourself time- and lots of it. Healing does not take place overnight, and everyone heals at their own pace.

 Healing of trauma is like the healing of any other broken body part, and essential to a whole, healthy life. Making efforts to heal brings us more into the present, making room for connection and intimacy with our loved ones. If you have suffered a trauma, don’t wait any longer to begin the healing process. You’ll be glad that you did.