In my practice, when clients pro-actively embody mindfulness into their daily lives, a seismic shift in their self-care follows. This is due to a focus on self-awareness and moving away from automatic negative self-talk. When I teach about mindfulness, I explain it as a practice that helps you to be fully present with all of your senses, without judgement towards yourself or the situation you are experiencing.
In fact, UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center defines mindfulness as a “means of maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.”
The Center explains, “Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.”
Therefore, a mindfulness practice can actively foster both self-compassion and self-awareness so you can tune into what your body and mind need at this very moment to feel nourished, cared for, and safe.
Mindfulness can take many forms, such as the practice of active listening, where you are intentionally listening undistracted through a lens of non-judgement and presence. Mindfulness can also take the form of mindful breathing, where you take a few moments to practice deep breathing and being in the moment. In this practice, when an intrusive thought comes into your mind, you simply go back to your breath with no judgement toward yourself or the situation. You are simply present.
If depression is regret about the the past, and anxiety is fear of the future, practicing moments of mindfulness throughout your day helps your thoughts take a pause from rumination about the past and future. Instead, mindfulness allows you to revel in the present moment. Being fully present serves as a vacation for your mind from obsessive thought patterns. This in turn helps your nervous system escape from an overactive sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight” mode) and move into the parasympathetic nervous system (the “rest and digest” mode).
Take the first step to a deeper level of self-care by incorporating a daily practice of mindfulness throughout your day. The goal is never perfection because perfection leads to paralysis and anxiety. The intention is to practice mindfulness so you can grow a greater sense of self-awareness and presence to help your life and health.
An easy way to start a mindfulness practice is to practice active listening in your next conversation and simply notice what it is like to be fully present without multi-tasking or being distracted.
In my practice, I help clients move away from future or past tripping, so they can fully embrace the present moment with self-compassion, which also helps them be more understanding to others around them. Mindfulness coupled with self-compassion is a super power for self-care because you become aware of healthy boundaries and setting your intention in the present moment.
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