Developing a Mindfulness Practice
Written by: Michael, Director of Clinical Services
Over the past decade, significant attention has been given to the topic of mindfulness. The Nations schools have developed mindfulness programs to assist students achieve. Mindfulness has made an appearance in the clinical world in the form of mindfulness-based therapies. However, the question remains, how does one develop a mindfulness-based practice and cultivate attitudes that are fundamental in the practice of mindfulness? Below are the seven key components that are the foundation to any mindfulness-based practice:
When beginning a mindfulness practice your thoughts will wander. Many thoughts may flood your mind, such as future commitments, family, and work. That is perfectly fine and to be expected. There is no need to judge yourself for this. You are developing a “practice” and like any new skill, mindfulness will take time to develop. If the mind begins to wander, simply focus on your breathing as an anchor. This is a perfect opportunity to treat yourself with loving kindness and simply return your attention to the breath.
As is in life, things will develop at their own pace. Developing patience with ourselves and with our mind allows us to be open to the present moment. Enjoy the journey of mindfulness practice. We need not rush to the finish line. We are exactly where we need to be.
3. Beginners Mind
As best you can, view the present moment with clear eyes. Often, we allow our past, our beliefs, our expectations of what life should be, and our personal preferences to cloud the present moment. See the present moment with the eyes of a beginner, as if you are a newborn seeing the world for the first time.
Frequently our world gives us messages to not trust ourselves. We seek external validation and over time are taught to ignore our inner voice. Part of the mindfulness meditation process is to begin to turn inwards and trust ourselves and begin to listen to our inner voice. This process allows us to reconnect with our core self. A self that is often lost in the world.
In mindfulness meditation one should develop an attitude of “non-doing.” This can be challenging. We are taught to have goals and that our actions should have a purpose and lead us to our goals. When we meditate, we need not strive for anything. We don’t need to strive to be a meditation master. The art is to hold our attention and awareness in the present moment exactly as the present moment is. Try your best not to shift to a goal setting perspective. Simply allow the experience to be as it is.
It is difficult to let things be as they are, especially if we are attached deeply to a different outcome. We may try to change the situation to be more desirable or to produce a more acceptable outcome. However, when we accept the current moment for exactly what it is, we are able to open up our awareness fully to the present moment.
7. Letting Go
During meditation you may notice that your mind wants to hold on to thoughts, feelings, and inner experiences. This is completely normal and natural. Part of mindfulness is to allow ourselves to not get caught in the cycle of grasping. As best we can, we can give ourselves permission to let go of these sensations and rest the mind in the present moment without distraction, attachment, or aversion.
Michael Angelo, LPCMH, CADC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor of Mental Health, serving as an Outpatient Therapist and Director of Clinical Services for JFS Delaware. His treatment approach is person-centered and utilizes mindfulness based cognitive techniques. Michael has over twenty years of experience working with individuals with mental health and substance use disorders.
As Clinical Supervisor, Michael leads JFS’ clinical team in group supervision and manages efforts to streamline clinical processes, trainings, and documentation; he is responsible for ensuring the quality of JFS’ therapeutic service to meet the highest industry standards.
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