Mindfulness 101: Specific Tools to Find Peace of Mind

If you missed my blog last week, I was discussing how a course in Mindfulness, through the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC), has helped me to gain some headspace, focus, and perspective in my life through a 6- week Mindfulness class.   I’ve been meditating for several years, and I’ve dedicated the last two years to really focusing on deepening my practice. Recently, I feel like I’ve hit a plateau. I sit every day, but I often have a difficult time “dropping in”. Meaning, quieting my mind in order to find stillness within, which leads to overall calm and focus.   Professionally, I feel that learning more about mindfulness can be a great asset to help my clients on their journeys toward total wellness. Personally, the past few months have been more emotionally challenging than usual, and I figured I could use some help navigating this additional stress. Maybe you can relate?

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We're enter that time of year where we can be easily triggered by family dynamics, relationships, and extra stress. I'd like to share with you a few ideas and mental practices that might help you, if you're looking to find some mental peace and patience for those around you. 

“Be Present”:

Bare Awareness, (aka. being present), is observing what is actually here, NOW, without any expectation or judgment. This can allow us to see the beauty in the little things in life, because we’re not attached to any specific outcome, simply appreciating what’s in front of us. 

“We Are All Perfectly Imperfect””:

Shared Humanity can help us deal with difficult emotions or situations, because we realize we are NOT ALONE. When we become aware that people around us are also familiar with these feelings, it lessens our emotional burden because we are surrounded by people who understand what we are experiencing. Feeling that sense of support can allow for happiness to blossom.

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“We Feel Our Emotions. We Do Not Embody Our Emotions”:

When working with unpleasant emotions, it is helpful to recognize and label the emotion (i.e. “anxiety”, “anger”, “fear”). This helps to create space between you and the emotion that is passing through you. Reminding ourselves that we are not our emotions, but are rather experiencing an emotion that will eventually pass, can help to keep us grounded. (Instead of “I am anxious”, think “Anxiety is arising within me.”)

“Don’t Believe Everything You Think”:

Mental Stories are just that… stories. Thinking is merely a habit of the mind. It is easy to get caught up in our thoughts, especially depressive ones. If we can learn to leave those thoughts in our “peripheral vision”, then we can be present with what is actually happening in each moment. This can allow for perspective and opportunities to arise. 

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“Practicing Gratitude, Leads to Joy”:

When we’re suffering, either mentally or physically, try to be present and mindful of the cessation of the pain. Often times, we get so wrapped up in the pain, we forget to appreciate the joy of the pain subsiding. This appreciation is important, because that is what leads us to gratitude and happiness.

In our last Mindful Awareness class, the instructor asked everyone to go around the room and say one word that described how we were feeling about our experience of mindfulness over the past weeks, and proceeding forward. My word was space.

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Mindfulness has given me the tools to create space between my emotions and my overall being. It’s given me peace of mind, allowed for more compassion in my relationships and interactions, and gratitude for the abundance of love surrounding me.