Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Mindfulness Can Help You Heal


I want to discuss, let's say, the modern version of mindfulness, or the quality of being aware or awake to something, and how mindfulness can help us heal.

We Have So Much Stuff!
Normally, in life, we are wrapped up in our 'stuff.'  Our stuff consists of things like our job, participating in research studies and volunteer positions, keeping a social media presence, being a mother, student, daughter, or nurse. Basically, our stuff is the roles we take on in life; these can be many. Our stuff can also consist of our busyness such as shopping, cleaning, driving, worrying, stressing, or hurting, for example.  Most of us have a lot of stuff, so our minds and body's stay busy with our tasks. We become absorbed in what we are doing, but not in a mindful manner where we are present to our situation. We become so busy that we become mindless meaning that we aren't present.

Mindfulness or Awareness
Today a few argue that awareness and mindfulness are two different things.  I disagree.  If you are consciously and fully aware to what you are doing, you are awake. If your thoughts move on or wander; if you get distracted by various tasks, ideas and to-do list or by your surroundings, then you are no longer aware. Mindfulness is about noticing what is going on in your present moment; being in the here and now. This is also called awareness which can be said to be consciousness of the situation at hand or realization.

With Mindfulness
With mindfulness, there is a conscious effort to be present to my experiences continuously. To hear and see my thoughts stream by, to feel the sensations flushing my body, to notice the twitches and itches and tingles, and to observe the feelings that come and go like the ebb and flow of the tide.

With mindfulness, I am paying attention on purpose without judgment; this is the conscious effort I undertake in being mindful or aware. As I sit here writing, I am present to my feet resting on the sides of the cold and hard metal chair. I am aware of the fan in the background and the breeze on my left cheek. I am aware of the dull pain in my right shoulder. I can hear the birds chirping in the yard and the car that just drove by. I am also paying attention to my body posture, my wrists as I type, and my breath.  I make sure the I am mindful of everything within and around me, and, if and when I need to, I adjust.

With mindfulness, I am so in tune to myself, my body and my surroundings, that if I have a need for a glass of water, for instance like right now, I go and get it. If I notice a pain in my back, I go and stretch. What is good about mindfulness is that you are consciously, or purposefully, paying close attention to what is happening and when you feel a need to adjust, such as go for a jog or a stretch or a glass of water, you do it immediately. You don't hesitate.

Without Mindfulness
Without mindfulness, we either don't adjust or we react uncontrollably. Without mindfulness, I  wouldn't have recognized that I was thirsty, and after a few hours had passed, I would wonder why I didn't feel well. Without mindfulness, if I had feelings of anger arise, I would react without thinking rationally.

How Can Mindfulness Help You? 
Mindfulness can help us heal.  If you are struggling emotionally with painful memories, being present with those feelings, no matter how much they hurt in the moment, and allowing them to pass without judgment will help heal your pain. Think of these hurtful feelings and memories as a river. The river continues to flow. It may divert around a boulder or rise on the shore, but it never stops. With your thoughts and feelings, let them flow.

If you follow this process consistently, over time, you will notice improvements in the pain you hold in your heart. However, this is not a deterrent to see a professional. This is something that can be added to therapy.

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