What is and isn't Mindfulness
“Mindfulness” – you see the word in countless magazines at the store and quick articles on your newsfeed: “How To Be Mindful” “Mindfulness: The Key to Everything!” …but what exactly is mindfulness? What does it look like in your normal day, why should you try, and how will it benefit YOU?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a leading Western teacher of mindfulness for 40 years, defines it as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally”. To put it another way, you are focusing your attention to the here-and-now, and noticing without judgement. To simply notice “I feel sadness right now” and to not follow it with “God, what’s wrong with me? I have so much in my life, I should feel terrible for even thinking that”. It is taking internal stock of yourself without prejudice.
More importantly, what isn’t mindfulness? Many clients approach this topic and react with “I’ve tried meditation, and it’s just not for me”. What if I told you mindfulness and meditation are not the same thing? Mindfulness is a large umbrella, blanketing many different practices, and meditation is just a small practice beneath it . Mindfulness is also not making your mind “a clean slate”, a practice that can bring frustration to many, especially when struggling with anxiety. Instead, all you are doing is intentionally noticing what’s going on, whether it be mentally, physically, emotionally.
So, is it just a fad, or does it actually help? Many physicians have asked this question, and studies have shown that it can provide measurable benefits. In patients struggling with cancer, it’s been shown to “ease fatigue, improve sleep quality, and enhance quality of life” (Jaret, The Medicine of the Moment). It’s been shown to decrease stress-eating, reduce blood pressure, and help stabilize mood.
Focused type practices are used at the beginning of learning what mindfulness is, and once you understand the technique, you can continue the practice as part of your daily life. The beauty of mindfulness is that you can practice it anywhere – having your coffee, making dinner, even brushing your teeth!
Here are some links to some mindfulness practice videos to help you practice the technique at home:
Leaves on a Stream Guided Imagery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1C8hwj5LXw
Quick Body Scan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iDKF-TrAfE
Mindful Eating: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeuDxlJgtj4
Hope Risher, M.S. LPC Associate-Supervised by Jan Shope LPC-S
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Jung It takes an incredible amount of courage to realize and decide to positively change your life, and even more so to include someone in that intimate journey of fulfillment. Whether it be a small, specific area of your life, or a major change, it is my honor as a therapist to be included in your journey. My therapy style is the humanistic approach to therapy, which provides positive support and objective reflections while the client explores what they want in therapy – YOU are the expert of your life. I am trained in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy focuses on identifying values we hold dear in our lives and making concrete efforts to work towards those values. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps us understand our thought patterns that may be blocking our path towards positive change, and how to alter them to serve our journey. I specialize in eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. I received a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Music with a Psychology minor from Oklahoma City University, and a Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kansas.