Mindfulness, a form of meditation derived from Zen Buddhism, is quickly becoming a popular form of therapy. Being present with your thoughts, without action or judgment, is a quick way to learn what thoughts are going through your head, to disconnect from those thoughts as reality, and to be able to make new, objective decisions and actions based on observation rather than emotion or automatic, knee-jerk reactions to life situations.
Take this simple exercise: Sit in a comfortable position. Breathing from your diaphragm at a natural rate, begin counting each breath, with your first inhalation as “one” and your first exhalation as “two,” and so forth all the way to the count of ten. Each in breath will be an odd number, each outbreath will be an even number. When you reach ten, start over, and continue this for two or three minutes. If your mind wanders, just bring your focus back to your breathing and counting.
Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise. Do you feel more peaceful? Do you feel energized? Do you feel more relaxed? It is amazing what a vacation from our thinking will do for us!
By learning to observe and manage your own thoughts, you begin to understand the automatic nature of patterns that repeat themselves in your life. Once you are aware of a pattern, you can choose a new response that may give you the better result you have been hoping for.
Try out the mindfulness exercise, and let me know how it worked for you!
Lynn Barrette, LCSW Blending psychology with spirituality, I offer tools for forgiveness, acceptance, meditation and relaxation, and positive parenting solutions.