Updated: Jul 9
* Note: Anyone with a history of trauma may find certain mindfulness approaches triggering, and can benefit more from starting under the guidance of a professional therapist.
Mindfulness has become a big part of wellness culture, and in various settings is often utilized for stress and anxiety reduction. But how does it actually help?
First, it is important to note that the 'trend' of mindfulness can be associated with some misleading assumptions. Mindfulness is by no means a cure-all. Nor is it just a superficial 'lifestyle enhancer' or simplistic set of catchy affirmations. It is an ongoing practice that requires time, patience, and realistic expectations. It is about paying attention in a different way... slowing down, taking a pause, and noticing our own breath, our own rhythms, and the rhythms of life around us. It brings us more in touch with ourselves. And that may not always be comfortable at first.
Mindfulness is a way of engaging with life, and with the self, that cultivates deeper awareness and presence. It's about being fully connected with what is happening in the present moment, and stepping back from the distractions of our habits, thoughts and expectations. It helps us to break the cycle of being chronically caught up in those distractions, and to tune in to what we are actually experiencing.
The cultivation of this kind of presence and awareness can help us observe our thoughts and feelings in a less reactive way. This focus on observation, or 'witnessing' our internal experience, is a core foundation of mindfulness. It enables us to connect to a quieter space within ourselves -- to become aware of the things we are thinking and feeling, without getting automatically 'swept away' by those thoughts and feelings. And this can help us move through our experiences in more grounded and choiceful ways.
In therapy, mindfulness can also be used to create a deeper understanding of where many of our thoughts, beliefs and emotions originated. By becoming more aware of what we are noticing within ourselves, it becomes possible to gain more clarity about our various internal aspects, and the patterns and core beliefs that have shaped us. With this deeper insight into ourselves and our lived experience, we become better equipped to address the changes we desire to make in our lives, our relationships, and even in our broader communities as a whole.
For more information on mindfulness check out the links below: