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An Intro to Mindfulness: Learning to Train Your Attention “Muscle”

What comes to mind for you when you hear the word “mindfulness?” Mindfulness has become an important part of the…

post by Melissa

What comes to mind for you when you hear the word “mindfulness?”

Mindfulness has become an important part of the work I do with my therapy clients. Not only is there an increasing amount of research demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness interventions, but I’ve also found mindfulness to be incredibly helpful for my own personal and professional life.

However, when I first tell clients that the work we do together is going to include mindfulness, they may respond with objections such as:

“I’m not a spiritual person”

“I’ve tried it and I’m no good at it”

“There’s no way I could clear my mind”

I actually prefer when clients share with me their hesitations about something I want us to try in therapy because then we can have an honest discussion about it and see if I can address some of these concerns and help them find solutions.

Some of these concerns regarding mindfulness are related to common misconceptions about what it’s all about. For instance, that it needs to involve a spiritual component, or that you’re supposed to completely empty your mind of thoughts. While it can involve a spiritual component, I often encourage clients to think of it as “strengthening your attention muscle.” And in regards to clearing your mind, that’s never the goal. It’s actually to learn to be more aware of your thoughts.

Jon Kabat Zinn, mindfulness expert and founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program defines mindfulness as paying attention:

Since I practice mindfulness myself, I understand firsthand just how challenging it can be to sit with all of the difficult thoughts and feelings that may arise.  We’re so good at avoiding these things, but when we sit down to practice mindfulness there’s nowhere to hide. This can be scary stuff, but, with practice, it can be an incredibly powerful tool to help you feel capable of coping with whatever curveballs life throws at you, and even to create a sense of home wherever in the world you’re living.

Watch the video below to learn a little more about how I introduce my clients to the practice of mindfulness. Let me know some of your own reservations or questions by leaving a comment below and I’ll try to address them in a future blog post.

“Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts.” – Allan Lokos

Are you or anyone you know interested in learning more about online therapy with me? Please get in touch to schedule a free 15-minute consultation with me to see if I’d be a good fit for you as a therapist.

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