I have a confession to make… I’m a psychotherapist who’s been working in the field for a bit now and I didn’t truly “get” mindfulness until fairly recently. I knew the concept and understood it in theory, I even extoled the virtues in group presentations and one-on-one therapy sessions. I did this by reviewing the research at my fingertips, which told me mindfulness is about being:
- present in the moment
- attentive to our experiences and responses as they arise
All of these things are truly what captures mindfulness at its core. But, intellectually knowing and doing these things are two very different things.
I didn’t have my aha moment about the power of mindful practice until I did indeed practice it, with intention, daily, for about 3 weeks. Afterall, they say that is how long it takes to break an unhealthy habit or integrate a new healthy one.
For me, my intentional mindfulness practice is in the form of daily meditations – yours may look different. It’s important to find your groove. what works for me, may not work for you. I’m loving the CALM app (see link below) . It offers timely meditations that are 10 min. in duration. and you can set a reminder each day on your phone to keep you accountable and organized. But, if meditation is not for you, there are other ways we can practice mindfulness (see link below).
So, back to what DOING the meditations did for me…
I was able to draw from my practice of meditation in a real life, diffcult situation! I actually was able to remain calm during a stressful car moment, something that would have stressed me out in the past. In the past when someone cut me off or nearly caused an accident, I would have stayed with that thought long after the situation occurred.
You know the drill – “Wow, what jerk”, “What were they thinking”, “Why are they even on the road” …
The longer I would stay fixated on it the more my anger and frustration grew.
That is where mindfulness comes in! Because of my new mindful practice, in that moment I was able to create space between the stimulus and my response. When you create that space, you are able to see that you can make a choice.
So, I could have stayed in the escalation trap of growing anger OR make the wise mindful choice of staying in the moment and letting go of the thoughts I had conjured up about the guy who cut me off. Once I was able to let go of those thoughts, I noticed the emotion behind those thoughts dissipate – so empowering!!
The awareness of noticing I was not in the moment by fixating my energy on the unknown dude who cut me off, immediately allowed me to look at the situation outside of myself, as an impartial third party. The ability to do this is connected to the conditioning of my daily mindful practice.
Now, this mindful superpower is available to me during many trying situations – like, when I’m waiting in line behind a slow customer; when my kids don’t clean up after themselves and I’m left with a mess; and even in more serious/heightened situations – I’m able to create space, look at the situation from a different perspective and bring kind awareness to the reality of the moment.
Believe me, mindfulness is worth trying if you find yourself overwhelmed with big emotions.
Check out the following links/resources if you’d like to either try or deepen your mindful practice:
A few of my own guided meditations: https://mindybilotta.ca/guided-meditations/
The Calm App mentioned above: https://www.calm.com/
5 simple ideas for practicing mindfulness: https://www.calm.com/mindfulness-tips/relax/5-simple-ways-to-practice-mindfulness-in-daily-life
Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation. A 28 day program – by Sharon Salzberg
Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion – Elisha Goldstein