Anyone who’s visited my website, or worked with me in person, knows I talk about mindfulness… a lot.
I practice mindfulness regularly; and because it’s a tool I use in my personal life (and have first-hand experienced the positive benefits) it naturally comes out in my professional life.
Often, people seek me out because this is a foundation of my clinical practice. Other times, when I start to discuss the benefits of mindfulness with a new client I’m met with blank stares or am told (while they are laughing) “um, no, I’m not trying that hippie shit.”
I agree, mindfulness can sound like hippie shit when you first learn about it!
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. And I wouldn’t be teaching it if I didn’t repeatedly see the benefits both in people around me and in my own life.
So here are a few myths I’ve heard about mindfulness and the realities that I’ve seen in my work.
Myth: “Mindfulness is about removing all thoughts from my brain”
The reality is: eliminating all thoughts from our mind is impossible. Our mind thinks thoughts, pretty constantly. That’s its job. What mindfulness can help you (and your mind) do is to recognize, acknowledge, and move on from the thoughts that do pop-up. Mindfulness serves as a way to healthily disengage from thoughts.
Myth: “Mindfulness will make me happy and relaxed”
The reality is: mindfulness isn’t always an enjoyable experience. Sometimes bringing awareness and attention to our experiences highlights challenges we are having, leading us to have some not-so-pleasant feelings.
Mindfulness isn’t about feeling one way or another; it’s about experiencing the moment for what it is and accepting the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Myth: “Mindfulness takes hours each day sitting silently to be effective”
The reality is: there are actually hundreds of ways to be mindful. Yes, some people do go to silent retreats and spend dedicated periods in meditation each day. However, that’s not for everyone! Mindfulness is about being present in each moment.
Instead of spending 30 minutes sitting in lotus posture each morning, you can practice mindfulness for 30 seconds at a time, 60 times a day. It’s the consistent quality of participation that is more important than length or what you do. Mindfulness can be practiced during every-day activities, at work or home, while eating, driving, playing with your kids, exercising, truly any activity you’re doing.
So, how do I get more mindful in my life?
With the stormy and gloomy weather we have had lately, one way I’ve been practicing mindfulness in my everyday life is by coloring. I find it a relaxing break where I can pause my responsibilities, let thoughts that arise drift away while I focus on what color to use next, it’s a fairly short commitment to color one page, and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I finish.
In case you haven’t had the chance to color yourself, here are two coloring pages to get you started. One illustrating 'Share Love Freely', and one that has a blank space for you to write in your Intention for 2017.
Interested in learning more about mindfulness or expanding your practice? One of my favorite mindfulness activities is checking in and exploring your senses. You can find the 'how-to' directions in these articles about how to balance responsibilities with doing nothing and around connecting with nature.
I’d love to hear what your favorite mindfulness technique is. Share with me in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento area therapist specializing in helping people lead authentic lives. Adriana’s most passionate about supporting individuals exploring their gender and sexuality, and advocating for the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email email@example.com.