As a counsellor and mindfulness teacher I use mindfulness both in my own life and in my practice with clients. It is incredible to me what a difference it can make to apply mindful awareness to our feelings, thoughts and life circumstances. We humans have this tremendous ability to get caught in webs of our own thinking; worrying; catastrophising; mulling over and living in fear of things that may or may never happen and trying every avenue available to us in an effort to avoid our own feelings and experiences. We spend so much time numbing out and trying to escape our own lives through participating in society’s endless stream of distractions such as social media, netflix, alocohol, food, shopping, sex, work, relationships, drugs, or whatever.
Sometimes even mindfulness seems to be sold to us as a tool for “switching off” and basically checking out of life for a while. But the harsh reality is we can’t actually take a break from living. For as long s we are alive in this world, there is a constant stream of experiences occurring within us. Even when we are asleep and dreaming. It is intense and relentless, no wonder we want to take a break sometimes!
But mindfulness also offers a different perspective: a way of being with our experience that makes the whole burden of living a little less heavy. It can show us a way to be a compassionate witness to our own experience, rather than letting our experience consume us and become our whole identity.
In therapy people often come up against their edges and are faced with difficult feelings that seem overwhelming and scary. The thing that makes it possible for them to go there and start to process their pain, is the experience of being held in compassion and non-judgment by the therapist. This allows a person to feel safe enough to feel their feelings as they are and learn to process, rather than run from their experience.
Practicing mindfulness in this way can become a way of being our own therapist, our own inner presence of compassion towards ourselves. We can learn to allow ourselves to experience our feelings just as they are, without need for distraction. In this way, life becomes bearable and we acquire a new freedom to just be, rather than fighting frantically to control every outcome. I believe that a lot of the fear that motivates us to want to escape in the first place, is the fear that we will not be able to cope with our feelings and experiences, that we would somehow fall apart or be annihilated if we allowed our difficult feelings in. When we learn, through experience, that this is not the case, we learn a kind of invincibility. We start to trust ourselves to be ok in whatever is happening and we can relax and allow our lives to unfold around us with less need for control.
If you would like to learn more about mindfulness, check our my free Facebook community where I hold live guided practices every Sunday evening. Or if you would like to access therapy for yourself, please feel free to contact me for an initial consultation.