Mindfulness practice has been gaining traction within the past decade, as we have begun to understand more and more about the ways in which it works. Neuroscience and individual experience itself have both given way to a deeper awareness around the benefits of mindfulness in daily life.
The practice of mindfulness, or a nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, helps to increase psychological flexibility, focus and attention, emotional regulation, stress-reduction, and relationship satisfaction, just to name a few. It holds within it one of the many paradoxes of human experience- the more you slow down, the more you can accomplish. This is because mindfulness helps you to attain clarity in decision-making, as well as equanimity (i.e. mental calmness).
A focused attention, absent of judgments, reduces the fogginess of anxiety and stress. It increases energy, a feeling of being alive, as you tap into all your senses, permitting sadness, depression, anger, anxiety, and the like to be experienced without their typical destruction.
Paying attention to the thoughts running through your mind eventually allows the mind to relax, as if your thoughts and emotions, being happily acknowledged, can now dismiss themselves. Thoughts and feelings pass through the mind like fluffy white clouds in a clear blue sky. They appear in your field of awareness, and then they release away.
Mindfulness is the letting go of struggling with the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that you experience. It is about inviting your present-moment experience to just be there, feeling all there is to feel, surrendering to your humanness. There are various ways to practice mindfulness.
The more you allow yourself to notice and come close to painful (and pleasant) feelings and sensations, the greater your ability to cope with them, and therefore to lead a rich and meaningful life. A happy life is a meaningful life and a meaningful life includes painful experiences, as well as joyful ones. Pain is not the enemy, rather a resistance to pain or unpleasantness is what gets in the way of living your best life.
What happens after letting go? With the clarity, connection, energy, and mental strength that mindfulness provides, you will build better decision-making skills. After practicing mindfulness, whether that is through breathing, meditation, yoga, or just simple attention to sensations, your ability to choose based on what matters to you, rather than based on what emotion is pulling you at the moment, can be called upon to guide you. Don’t you want a life based on what truly matters? Another paradox is this, the more you let go of the need to control your thoughts and feelings, the more genuine control you have. The goal, however, cannot be controlled; The goal must be to experience what is truly happening in the present moment.
All it takes is 5-10 minutes a day to begin reaping the multitude of benefits that mindfulness gifts us. You can always do longer, but the consistency and quality of the practice is more important than the length of time.
We encourage anyone reading this to take a moment, soften your gaze or close your eyes, and begin to notice your breath. Be aware of the way your body feels. Pay attention to your mood, and the way in which that is expressed through your body, without any judgments of good or bad. Sensing your entire body as one part, allowing what is there to be there. Take three rounds of deep breaths. Let the belly rise on the inhale. Draw the belly button in on the exhale.
We hope you can be inspired to make mindfulness a regular part of your life, as it has drastically enhanced my own, and the lives of the people we work with. If you would like to learn more about reducing or eliminating anxiety, mindfulness practices, or finding ways to manage stress, contact our anxiety counselors today at Orlando Thrive Therapy. We are waiting to hear from you. Until then, be well, and keep on thriving.
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.