I’ve noticed that in today’s day and age we often hear language around the concept of Mindfulness. Even when recently driving in my car I heard an advertisement for health insurance, which focused on creating a “mindful moment” of reflection and awareness. What does this really mean, to be mindful? What does it mean to incorporate mindfulness into our daily lives and self-care?
I recently attended a two-day workshop on Mindfulness led by Ronald D. Siege, PsyD, and quickly found myself challenged to the core. The concepts of mindfulness that were taught during this workshop included seeing and accepting things as they are, experiencing the “richness” of the moment and freeing ourselves from having to “act skillfully”. On the other hand, the training emphasized that mindfulness practice is not having a blank mind, detaching from our emotions, escaping pain and withdrawing from our life and reality.
On the first day of training, Ronald Siege led a guided meditation that lasted hours. Ok, to be totally honest it was about 30 minutes, but I found myself completely challenged through this process. Why was it so hard to stay present in the moment? Why did it feel like this exercise took hours rather than minutes? Our brains are conditioned to continuously process thoughts that can often be distracting to our emotional process. This is often how we cope to distract from anxious or painful thoughts and emotions.
As I sat in the midst of this mindfulness experiment, I found myself criticizing my inability to stay focused on the here and now. My mind quickly drifted from my breath (where my focus was suppose to be) to my endless list of to do’s that were not being concurred due to attending a 2 day training. The instructor immediately introduced the concept of “acceptance and loving-kindness”. As I sat in self-criticism, I experienced tremendous validation in the idea that a wondering mind was expected, and that in these moments we can "gently and lovingly" guide ourselves back to letting it all go. During this particular exercise the primary focus was on our breathing process. I can’t tell you how many times I had to lead myself back to my breath. It felt like every 10 seconds or so! Although it wasn’t a natural process for me personally, I gained so much insight into how easily I can distract myself from difficult thoughts and feelings along with the criticism attached to these feelings.
Since completing this training I have found myself working harder to adopt the concepts of mindfulness practice in my day to day life. It’s never easy, nor perfect, but it has created a new gentle and loving tone within. Please take a moment to check out these resources on Mindfulness that include guided meditations. Give them a try and allow yourself to practice embracing the moment and providing self-compassion and acceptace.
Resources on Mindfulness