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.

Flying Solo

Resolutions/Goals are also for those whose relationships are in trouble- if you are flying solo (or just feel like you are) here are some of my favorites for the New Year, courtesy of Michelle Weiner Davis.

  1. Envision positive outcomes - There is no way that you can begin to accomplish positive change your marriage if you don't believe it is possible. Start by imagining what your life will be like when your marriage truly turns a corner. The more you can picture every detail, the easier it will be to eventually step into this picture at some later date.
  1. Act as if you expect miracles to occur - Once you can imagine positive outcomes, reflect on how you will be behaving differently when they happen. Then start doing that right now!
  1. Be kind, even if you think your spouse doesn't deserve it - You may be angry, disappointed, or even devastated by your spouse's choices and actions. However, rather than react to unsettling behavior, assume your spouse is lost and confused. Be patient, kind and steady and your efforts will pay off.
  1. Focus on small, positive changes - Don't expect big changes overnight or you will be disappointed and it will make it hard to stay on track. Imagine the smallest change possible that would signal a shift in how things have been going. Then focus on that.
  1. Promise yourself this will be a great year, no matter what - You cannot control what your spouse does, but you can control what you decide to do with yourself and your children, if you have them. Take a deep breath and envision how you are going to make this a good year regardless of your spouse's choices.
  1. If you get off track, get back on quickly without self-blame - What separates the winners from the losers is not whether or how many times you get off track, it's how rapidly you get back on track. If you've veered from the plan, hop right back on track without self-recrimination.

The Price of Forgiveness

The Price of Forgiveness

No one gets through life without being hurt by another person. We all have experienced the pain of a thoughtless remark, gossip, or lie. If you have experienced an unhappy marriage, the devastation of infidelity, or suffered physical or emotional abuse, you know what it feels like to be hurt. It is tempting to hold on to these feelings and build a wall of safety around yourself, but the best way to heal is to forgive the person who hurt you.

But what is forgiveness, really? When you forgive another person, you no longer allow their behavior to cause you anger, pain, bitterness, or resentment. When you choose not to forgive, you make the choice to hold on to your feelings of resentment, anger, and pain.

Think of forgiveness as a gift that you give to yourself. It is not something you do for the person who hurt you. It is a gift to yourself because it enables you to stop feeling painful feelings and pushing others away. Forgiveness frees you from anger and allows you to restore your ability to have close and satisfying relationships with others.

Anger is a poisonous emotion that comes from being hurt. When you are consumed with anger and bitterness, it hurts you at least as much as it hurts the person who has harmed you. It is as if you are filled with poison. If these feelings are not resolved, they can begin to eat you up inside. You have two choices: to stay connected to the person who hurt you by keeping these poisonous feelings alive, or to let the feelings go and forgive the person who harmed you. When you withhold forgiveness, think about who is actually being hurt. It is more than likely that the person who is filled with anger and anxiety is you, not the other person.

Forgiving another does not mean you will never again feel the pain or remember the thing that hurt you. The hurtful experience will be in your memory forever. By forgiving, you are not pretending the hurtful behavior never happened. It did happen. The important thing is to learn from it while letting go of the painful feelings.

Forgiveness is not about right or wrong. It doesn't mean that the person's behavior was okay. You are not excusing their behavior or giving permission for the behavior to be repeated or continued.

 

Forgiveness can only take place because we have the ability to make choices. This ability is a gift that we can use it whenever we wish. We have the choice to forgive or not to forgive. No other person can force us to do either.