Mindfulness for Change, Part 2

Last week I said the simplest thing: "Be in the present". Yet though it is simple it is not actually easy. Not easy at all, and for many of us, we actually try to not be present, not even in our lives.

Distraction is one of the most common themes of our times. Alcohol, food, drugs, t.v., fighting, day-dreaming, shopping, lying to ourselves...the list goes on. All serve to distract us from our immediate experience. Especially from "messy" feelings and emotions. We build these walls basically because we feel our inner heart is too vulnerable.

What makes mindful practice so powerful is that it is a pathway to be present in our lives, now.

Developing our breathing, as we talked about last week, is a key to do this. Our breathing becomes an anchor point for us in the present. One that we can always come back to when we become distracted or caught up in our own script of how life is or is supposed to be.

By doing this we begin to build awareness.

By building awareness this we become observers, we come to find that we can accept the present as it is, our feelings as they are, ourselves as we are. If we feel angry, we notice that. If we feel scared, notice that. If we feel joy, notice that. If we are thinking of a cheese burger, notice that.

We find that we can connect to other ideas such as compassion towards others, and especially compassion towards self.

With practice, we find that we can just notice where we are at without pushing it away, without interacting with it, without spending energy. We develop the ability to accept without judging or denying. Now we can progress in our lives, rather than ruminating and staying in place.

Gradually, we become able to notice and accept more and more. We become increasingly freed from spending energy (our lives) doing things that distract us from what's really going on and are more able to experience joy, love and compassion, both towards others and ourselves.

An example of this might be someone who knows they have a big work presentation, but does things to "tune it out" as they find presenting scary and don't want to feel the associated anxiety.

Just noticing the feeling (thought, image, etc.), "I feel anxious" or even "Dave (whatever your name is) feels anxious" allows us to become used to it, to find peace and coexistence with the anxiety. That it isn't that powerful anymore.

So for this week, I'd like to suggest that you continue to practice being mindful of your breathing and to try being mindful of your eating and of your walking too. Really notice how you do it.

As your ability to be present grows, you will come to have a better life. Even your athletics will improve (more to come about athletics).

We'll continue to remind you of this to help you build this core skill during the weeks to come.

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.

Dave Marks, LCPC 847-299-3400